“No one in this room can accurately predict the future, least of all me. The nature of war is never gonna change. But the character of war is changing before our eyes — with the introduction of a lot of technology, a lot of societal changes with urbanization and a wide variety of other factors.”
-Gen. Mark Milley at the Association of the U.S. Army Convention, 2017
The Army’s decision to create a “Futures Command” is long overdue, well-intended, and absolutely necessary if the Army is to emerge from the malaise that has held modernization in its vice for all of this new century. But accelerating the pace of modernization without a rigorous understanding of how militaries anticipate the future of war might run the risk of creating an accelerating engine with greater thrust, but no vectors.
I’ve spent almost three decades studying the art and science of future gazing. The high point of my immersion as a futurist began in 1991 when then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gordon Sullivan, entrusted me with writing the Army’s official history of the Gulf War, Certain Victory. Three years later, in 1995 another chief of staff, Gen. Dennis Reimer, gave me the mission of looking into the deep future of warfare, beyond 2020 to 2025. As head of the Army After Next project, I had access to an enormously talented group of young officers, many of whom are still doing great work today. With the assistance of my deputy, Col. Bob Killebrew, we invented the Army’s first strategic game, which continues today in heavily modified form as Unified Quest.