April 01, 2009

The Past and Present as Prologue: Future Warfare through the Lens of Contemporary Conflicts

By Robert H. Scales

Eight years of war have given the U.S. military an unparalleled opportunity to translate real war experience into a vision of how conflicts will be fought in the future. Getting a vision of the future more right than wrong depends on the military’s ability to sift through experiences gathered from combat to discern those that will endure. This monograph seeks to do just that.

A key premise of this paper is that the United States’ emerging national security strategy is right in postulating a future conflict environment
dominated by irregular wars. For brevity, the paper concentrates on a few characteristics of future irregular wars that are likely to endure. For clarity, it parses the vision into the three classic levels of war; strategic, operational, and tactical. And for credibility, it concentrates on the ground dimension for two reasons: because Afghanistan and Iraq, like all irregular wars, are being fought principally on the ground and because the author’s past intellectual endeavors and expertise have been in that dimension.

  • Robert H. Scales

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