Small Wars Journal

Call for Papers: Grounded Projections for a Vision of Alternative Futures

Call for Papers: Grounded Projections for a Vision of Alternative Futures

The Army Capabilities Integration Center's Future Warfare Division is sponsoring a symposium entitled Grounded Projections for a Vision of Alternative Futures. The symposium will be Nov 3-4, 2010, in McLean, VA.

The symposium seeks to explore possible challenges facing the military and how they might affect the future. The symposium will seek to explore various alternatives of what the future may look like in light of what is known today and the implications of various factors on the Army.

As the military prepares for 2030 and beyond, what challenges lie ahead? Prior to the terrorist attacks of September 2001, national defense concepts were based on an assumption that conventional threats would come from hostile nations. In hindsight, it becomes apparent that the real and emerging threats to national security were coming from non-state actors. The military held the belief that surveillance, communications, and information technologies would allow the United States to dominate the battlespace against any opponent.

These erroneous assumptions brought to light the need to study and view all possible alternative futures in the context of history and contemporary knowledge. Recent conflicts and emerging trends need studied from all aspects to provide holistic views of alternative futures. Theories about the character of future warfare must be grounded in knowledge of emerging threats to national security.

A thorough study of contemporary conflict in an historical perspective is needed to correct flawed thinking about the character of conflict, help define future challenges to international security and build relevant military and civilian governmental capabilities to meet those challenges.

Potential areas for study could include expanded globalization and evolution of science, technology and engineering developments; advances in technology and their potential impacts on armed conflicts; where conflicts are likely to rise and where stability is likely to take root; social, economic or environmental trends likely to impact future armed conflicts; the changing global demographics and generational values and their impact on future conflicts and forces.

Ensuring conventional military forces are relevant to the contemporary security environment and capable of coping with threats from hostile states as well as non-state actors should begin with a thorough study to help identify implications for how forces ought to be organized, equipped and trained as well as how leaders ought to be educated.

The symposium will seek to explore possible alternative future views of armed conflict in light of the current environments. Conclusions drawn from the presentations will be used to help guide Army training and leadership development through the next 20 to 30 years. Following the symposium, papers will be posted online.

The symposium will take place Nov. 3-4, 2010, in McLean, VA. Some travel funding may be available. For further details, call Dr Robert Wood at (757) 788-2148 or email abstracts to: no later than Sept. 1, 2010.



Mon, 07/12/2010 - 11:34am

In line with LTC Chappell's thoughts, if I may recommend a recently published article that is excellent on the passing of the RMA in the most recent Military Review (May-June 2010).

The Revolution in Military Affairs: 12 Observations on an Out-of-Fashion Idea
Lieutenant Colonel Scott Stephenson, Ph.D., U.S. Army, Retired…

R. Jordan Prescott

Chuck Chappell

Wed, 07/07/2010 - 4:41am

As the chief of the FWD Future Studies Branch prior to my current deployment, I'd like ask the folks here to give this proposal a great deal of thought, and throw your hats into the ring, because we'd love to get your perspectives.

If you've read BG HR McMaster's paper on the failures of the "RMA" movement of the 90's and early 00's, you'll probably recognize a lot of the language in the above notice. I would hasten to add that this isn't a Luddite view of the current or future world; far from it, as innovative uses of now-common technology have clearly come back at us in ways that we were unable, unwilling, or unprepared to think of until they actually happened.

Future strategic forecasting isn't a science, some might call it witchcraft, and some would say it's not even useful. Yet, each of us does it every day in ways great and small in our personal and professional lives. One of the most popular genres of science fiction these days is "Alternate History", and the better works in that genre are often quite thought provoking. I'm betting that a sizable portion of the participants in this community are well familiar with these issues and have something to say about them.

Nobody's going to nail an accurate vision of the "World of Tomorrow" in this effort, and, indeed, this isn't the intent. The intent is to provoke thought about the choices we and our adversaries may make about how we use the technologies that will come into use in the near future, and also to be conceptually prepared to not suffer paralytic policy shock when someone else uses these technologies against us in unanticipated or innovative ways.

In spring 1940, the Allied and German armies had essentially the same military technology playset: Planes, tanks, artillery, machine guns and radios. The ways they thought about using these things, and the historical and social processes that drove them to use them as they did, made all the difference in the short and long-term historical results.

At any rate, Dr. Bob Wood will happy to answer any questions you may have on this event and we hope to see a lof of folks from here participate.