Lethal Theory: urban swarming tactics and civilian involvement

What struck me the most about the military strategies discussed in the paper by Eyal Weizman was what can happen to the civilians who are caught in the crosshairs of this strategy. While this creative way of approaching a spatial battlefield can certainly be effective in surprising, confusing and circumnavigating the “enemy”, It surly can take the unsuspecting civilian by surprise as well. In a traditional war, there are clearly defined battlefronts, with the focus on moving the line of the enemy back and taking their land. In this new form of war, there is no clearly defined front, and no way to quantify advance. As such, it would be very difficult for civilians to determine where is safe and where is not. Not only does this mean that everywhere would be vulnerable, but that everything would feel vulnerable as well,


The article describes the process of carving out a network for troop movement not around buildings, but through them. A hole is blown through the wall, and the groups swarm in and apprehend the shocked inhabitants inside. I am left wondering how many children playing or couples sleeping on the other side of the wall were injured or killed when the wall was destroyed. And even if there were civilian casualties of this method, how could it possibly be reported and responsibility determined? In this chaotic and decentralized method of maneuvering through an area, how do you determine what soldier was where when what happened.

Finally, I noticed the potential for infrastructure damage that this strategy could lead to. While a thousand troops can march through a street one day and leave no evidence of their passing, a thousand troops boring through walls will leave their mark to remind the inhabitants of the conflict long after peace is made.

Leave a Reply