Small Wars Journal

TRADOC G-2 Call for Papers: Strategic Security Environment 2050

Tue, 05/31/2016 - 2:18pm

                                                                                                                    16 May 16   


SUBJECT:  Mad Scientist Conference: Strategic Security Environment 2050

1.  Purpose.  To provide information on the upcoming Mad Scientist Conference to be held at Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies, Washington DC from 8-9 August 2016, with a specific focus on the Strategic Security Environment in 2050.

2.  Facts. 

     a. Mad Scientist is a TRADOC G-2 initiative that enables continuous dialogue between Joint military, international partners, academia, policy institutions, and private sector organizations to help the Army explore the evolution of the Operational Environment (OE) through the year 2050.  Mad Scientist also seeks to examine the effects of all aspects of technology on the far future of armed conflict. 

     b. Mad Scientist allows for continuously learning, adaptation, and innovation and allows for broader engagement in problem solving.  Mad Scientist supports understanding the future OE and the underlying technology evolution to support the Campaign of Learning, 2025 Maneuvers, science and technology (S&T) investments, and capability development for the Army.

     c. For this specific event, Mad Scientist is the vehicle for describing war in 2050.  The critical notion is that we will move forward to 2050 and look back to explore: 1) the form(s) of governance that may have emerged, as well as the causes of war over history brought forward and set in 2050; and 2) the underlying logic at "turning points" in the character of war.  As such, F2025 becomes a way point on the way to 2050. 

     d. Mad Scientist embraces open discourse, and embraces a desire for a clean slate approach to problem solving with no pre-conceptions, no attempts to justify programs or budgets.

    e. The strategic environment is defined as the set of global conditions, circumstances, and influences that affect the employment of all elements of US national power.  The strategic environment is essentially the sum of all of the OEs in which the commanders and units could find themselves conducting decisive action. 

     f. The strategic environment estimate serves as the foundation for training, leader development, education and capabilities development.  The conditions of the strategic environment must be understood, captured and factored into Army decision-making.  Only then can realistic training, a balanced mix of systems and capabilities, and appropriate approaches to leader development an education be identified and implemented across TRADOC and the Army writ large. 

     g. The US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), in partnership with the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group, and Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies,will address the following questions in order to further our understanding and create a shared understanding of the future strategic security environment.

            (1) Fundamental changes in demographics, economics, and geopolitical conditions that will radically change the conduct of military operations.  What changes in the strategic environment are harbingers of future conflict?  What are the drivers of change?  What investments must the Army make to enable our future critical role in establishing stable environments to consolidate gains, control narratives, and achieve sustainable outcomes?   

           (2) Fundamental changes in the character of war and warfighting technologies that will radically change the conduct of military operations.  How are our adversaries of the future learning, adapting and adjusting behaviors to deny US advantage in warfare?  How will adversaries of the future exploit all aspects of the strategic environment to their advantage?  How will future adversaries invest in technologies to obtain a differential advantage and undermine U.S. technical superiority?

    h. If you cannot physically attend the conference, we invite you to join us remotely on the TRADOC Watch website at:

     i. Remote attendees will also be able to participate in the discussions via an online chat room and will be provided an opportunity to provide questions that will be proposed to conference speakers.

    j. Please join the All Partners Access Network (APAN) to receive updates on the conference, to include list of speakers, agenda, and related information at:



Thu, 06/02/2016 - 1:13pm

The problem that this exercise faces is that the kind of small or asymmetrical wars that we will likely be fighting from here on are seriously misunderstood by our military and civilian leaders, and little in the literature rectifies this situation. Proof? The Vietnam War and David Petraeus's FM 3-07. He looked closely at Vietnam for "lessons-learned." Unfortunately they were positive lessons, with the CORDS program used as a model for counterinsurgency or COIN.

Although it should be revisited with our eyes wide open, I suspect at this point that it is futile to litigate the Vietnam War again. But at some point or other in that conflict we tried everything except the right thing and so we lost. And the standard response ("we never lost a military engagement" or "if only we had bombed") is simply meaningless in a guerilla war.

You want a model? Read Sun Tzu. We should be asking "how do you defeat an army organized according to his principles?" Or moving forward 2500 years, we should have been looking at Ed Lansdale vs. the Huks, or Robert Thompson vs. the Malayan Communists or Fujimori vs the Maoist Shining Path. If we actually paid attention to what was going on we would see that none of them -- that is the guys carrying guns and dying -- were actually communists, just petit capitalists being squeezed by corrupt authorities and getting angry. Doesn't apply to Vietnam? Read Jeff Race's "The War Comes to Long An."

As long as we let the rebel leaders define the conflict we will be punching at shadows, wasting lives and money. But with the COIN-industrial-complex that has been revived since Afghanistan that is less and less likely as time goes by.