The future battlefield is a megacity where skyscrapers tower over the poor and disenfranchised. That’s the forecast, anyway, by General Julian Alford, who commands the Marine Corps fighting simulation laboratory. As savvy fans will recall, Mega-City One is the backdrop of the 2012 comic book film Dredd 3D; the bulk of the movie takes place in the tightly framed hallways of a 200-story building named Peach Trees. Damned if it doesn’t sound now like required viewing for anyone training to be a soldier.
At a training and simulation conference earlier in December, Alford described his urban warfare training as inadequate, reports Defense News. Though Alford drilled in extreme environs as a young soldier, the first time he killed someone was in an urban scenario — much like the psychic recruit Cassandra Anderson, who finds herself under Dredd’s wing but really comes into her own as a fighter by the end of the film.
Alford describes the battles of the future as a departure taking place outside traditional areas, sketching out a vision closer to the plot of the critically acclaimed, but ultimately disappointing at the box office, Karl Urban action vehicle. Via Defense News:
“We are going to be on the top floor of a skyscraper . . . evacuating civilians and helping people. The middle floor, we might be detaining really bad people that we’ve caught. On the first floor we will be down there killing them. … At the same time they will be getting away through the subway or subterrain. How do we train to fight that? Because it is coming, that fight right there is coming, I do believe with all my heart.”
Evacuating bystanders may require soldiers to improvise inside these megastructures, as when Dredd retreats to the landing pad/converted skate park, which ultimately becomes a refuge for teenage civilians. To get our Marines to this level of urban awareness, the military experts at the Florida conference proposed virtual simulation. (Building a megacity is impractical, which is why the exterior shots of Peach Trees are rendered in computer animation.)
The training should also include what Alford describes as “peer-on-peer” fighting. In his eyes, the military should not prepare only for a pitched battle, like well-equipped Judges versus the ragged Lena Headey-led cartel of narcotics peddlers. Instead, modern warfare will become something similar to the film’s third act in which the four corrupt Judges face off against Dredd and Anderson, a masterful sequence that doubtlessly propelled the film to cult status and left enthusiastic fans demanding a sequel. Ultimately, reality may beat Hollywood to that.