Part of Defense

The Future of Warfare

The rapid pace of technological change is having profound implications for the future of warfare. Improvements in sensing, precision, artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber, and space are disrupting past ways of projecting combat power and could potentially upend the current military balance. These developments create potential threats, but also opportunities if the U.S. military can rapidly adapt and develop new operational concepts and organizational structures to use these new technologies to great effect. To explore this issue, the CNAS Defense Program is pursuing three lines of effort:

A New American Way of War

Developing new warfighting approaches and operational concepts are essential to ensuring that the U.S. military can deter and, if necessary, fight and win against China and Russia. This line of effort considers how the U.S. military can innovate to operate in new ways in select domains—as well as across domains—to more effectively meet the challenge of future conflict.

A New American Way of Training

To effectively execute new operational concepts against China or Russia, the U.S. military must prepare its forces to operate in an environment in which every domain is contested. This project examines the future of military training to assess how the United States can leverage new technologies and train its forces for high-end conflict against China and Russia.

Drone Wars

Recent conflicts, such as Nagorno-Karabakh, Libya, and Ukraine, demonstrate drones are impacting the battlefield. This project examines the use of unmanned systems in these conflicts to identify their implications for the future character of warfare.

A Changing Space

Space is becoming an increasingly important domain for competition and future warfare. In 2019, the United States created the newest service, the U.S. Space Force. This line of effort explores the culture of the Space Force and considers its implications for joint warfare, inter-service relations, and the future of the service.

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