The U.S. military recognizes that it will be required to engage in dense urban areas in the near future, whether under combat, stabilization, or disaster response conditions. The military also recognizes that it is not prepared to effectively operate within such complex terrain and populations. Alternative governance structures, which can be ethnic- or religious-based civil society groups or even organized criminal networks, emerge to provide basic services when the state fails to govern effectively. Leaders of these groups maintain control through various means including violence, coercion, and service provision or through tribal, religious, or other cultural ties and structures.
Developing a flexible toolkit of currently available and vetted resources to understand the alternative governance structures existing or emerging in that environment would provide crucial foreknowledge, which will serve as a force multiplier for planning and operating in an urban environment, particularly one as dense as a megacity.