Part of Defense

The Future of Warfare

Our rapidly changing world has profound implications for the future of warfare. Changes in national objectives, operational doctrines, and military technologies are shaping the character of war in ways that challenge existing approaches to leveraging military power. These developments create potential threats, but also opportunities if the U.S. military can rapidly adapt to this shifting reality. To explore this issue, the CNAS Defense Program is pursuing multiple lines of effort:

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.

Protracted War

Future high-intensity conflicts are more likely to extend for months or years than to rapidly conclude in a matter of weeks as shown by Russian experiences in Ukraine. This project will explore the strategic and operational trends setting the conditions for protracted conflict, focusing on the conventional and nuclear dimensions of a potential U.S.-China conflict.

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.

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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