The Force of Tomorrow
The Army's top general on the future of war.
BY GEN. RAY ODIERNO |FEBRUARY 4, 2013
Over the past 11 years of continuous combat, the Army made great strides at the tactical and operational levels of war. We evolved our tactics, fielded new equipment, and modified our organizations, all while combating determined enemies. These changes were necessary, and they produced an Army without peer on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. However, they do not fully prepare us for the diverse array of challenges our nation faces in the coming years. Changes in the character of modern conflict demand that we continue to ...view middle of the document...
We must be able to rapidly adjust our units and capabilities to meet the unique requirements of any situation, delivering precision results through the most capable, discriminate weapon system ever fielded -- the American soldier. At the same time, we must make thoughtful and forward-looking investments in our leaders and institutions to grow the Army from the operational force of today to a force of unparalleled tactical, operational, and strategic excellence -- the nation's premier strategic force of tomorrow.
Changes in the Strategic Environment
Since the early 1990s, there has been no global threat that compares to the former Soviet Union, no peer competitor that threatens our nation or our way of life. We no longer live under the specter of an imminent nuclear war. None of us seeks to return to those days, and our nation's strategic decisions will be strongly shaped in ways to help prevent the return of such a dangerous world.
Despite today's lack of superpower conflict, the world of the 21st century remains a dangerous place. The challenge of preserving a delicate balance between two superpowers has been replaced by the need to protect the nation from a myriad of less conventional, disparate global threats. Regional powers exert influence locally, relatively unconstrained by the actions of global powers. Loosely affiliated groups and movements, united often only by ideology, operate in ungoverned spaces, taking refuge in failed and failing states.
Technological advances have revolutionized the way people and governments interact. Access to global communications and the rise of social media connect more people in more ways across greater distances than ever before. Events that once went largely unnoticed are now viewed internationally, empowering local actors with potentially strategic effect. Simultaneously, the proliferation of advanced weaponry has resulted in the rise of a different sort of enemy. Combining unconventional tactics with advanced weapons, these emerging threats present a new and dangerous challenge. They do not diminish the more conventional threats posed by dangerous or unstable states such as North Korea or Iran, but they require our military to maintain a much broader range of capabilities to respond.
On the modern battlefield, enemies will intentionally mix with the civilian population, making discrimination between friend and foe extremely difficult. The moral expectations of our citizens and allies require that civilian casualties and collateral damage be limited to the greatest possible extent. Taken together, they impose a standard for discriminate lethality in the conduct of military operations that often cannot be achieved with precision strikes or purely technical solutions. Battlefields of today and tomorrow will be populated with a wide array of actors who are not directly involved in military operations. Non-governmental organizations, criminal groups, local citizens, and other regional powers may all...