Future War: Thinking the Thinkable

Um, no. The examples in the leading paragraph are the staid ones that have been disproved over and again. The only conflicts that are concluded “as planned” are those that are very short, such as Gulf I. Ultimately, the key to success in future conflicts isn’t envisioning how they will be fought, but envisioning how they must be responded to flexibly, not specifically. As soon as you get to “know” what the future holds, you stop being ready for what comes.



Thinking about future war is important. Very important. History is replete with examples of military organisations that became the unwitting authors of their own demise because they failed to adapt to the changing military environment in which they operated. The French were out-fought and out-thought in 1940 because of a stagnant military doctrine that shunned the revolutionary developments being made in the theory of armoured warfare. Likewise, American forces in Vietnam drowned in a strategic quagmire because its civilian leaders did not grasp the complex nature of the war on which they had embarked. Only a fool would underestimate the stakes at risk in drawing faulty appreciations about the future operating environment. Of course, military organisations have proven to be intellectually and organisationally flexible enough to adapt during the course of a conflict, as the British and German armies demonstrated during the bitter fighting on the Western…

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