This is an interesting question, and if I truly knew the answer, I would be very rich and powerful. However, I am not any better at predicting the future than anyone else. Yet I find this to be a useful intellectual exercise as the alternative leaves us substituting hope for strategy, chaos management for a campaign plan and damage control for daily activity.
Defeating terrorism will require close coalition coordination, especially for information garnered in the network-centric battlespace. Being able to provide accurate intelligence rapidly to the right coalition forces may prove to be a key element in winning the war on terror.
The People's Republic of China is building the necessary infrastructure to mine the ports of Taiwan should military conflict break out between the two governments. This capability would give China an effective blockade ability without the risk of escalation that would emerge from a direct military confrontation with the United States.
The two military commands primarily responsible for homeland defense are coordinating their efforts on the new front lines of cyberspace. Because both offensive and defensive information operations are an integral part of protecting North America, the U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command are training their experts in combined environments to ensure that they can act swiftly when responding to threats or planning strategies.
The U.S. Army is marshalling the forces of supercomputers and superanalysts in an effort to merge diverse battlefield intelligence data into knowledge for commanders. The intention is to establish a technology-based means of fusing vast amounts of sensor data into effective information without magnifying the inescapable errors that creep into data at various stages.
The U.S. Navy is on the verge of deploying the first parts of an intelligence collection and management network designed to share data between fleet task forces and command and analysis centers. The completed system will provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting support to government agencies, U.S. allies and all of the services.
Predicting a volatile enemy's next move is still the bailiwick of soothsayers, but technology may help future commanders choose an appropriate counteraction. Using the findings of a research project that delves into data farming, the U.S. Marine Corps and industry are introducing tools that help warfighters better understand the virtually infinite possibilities in the battlespace. The capability could assist in finding ways not only to defeat a martyrdom-based adversary but also to prevent this enemy from growing its ranks.
An array of advanced troubleshooting and analysis tools is keeping globally deployed U.S. Marine Corps command and control systems up and running. Providing these applications is an organization dedicated to maintaining equipment and networks through activities such as offering help desk services, qualifying new equipment and software to meet military standards, and integrating systems into new operational architectures.
The proliferation of space technologies around the world poses a threat to the space assets on which the U.S. military is relying to ensure battlespace supremacy in the 21st century. These technologies, once available only to a select few, now are opening the door to both the widespread exploitation of space and the denial of U.S. space systems during times of crisis.
Changes in the U.S. armed services' force structures and acquisition processes are causing a ripple effect that is rolling into the commercial sector. Company officials are finding that business as usual can't be business as usual anymore if they want to satisfy today's requirements, capture a share of a burgeoning defense budget or expand into the relatively new but potentially lucrative homeland security market. Firms must be as agile and responsive as the new military they are vying to support.
The ongoing defense transformation is making the U.S. Air Force a much more expeditionary force than it was during the Cold War. Increasingly, interoperation with the other services is having a greater effect on defining Air Force missions than on its traditional personnel roles.
Operational demands are motivating the U.S. Army to shift troops from low-demand occupations such as field artillery and air defense so it can field more military police, civil affairs and transportation units. These changes are part of an ambitious effort to transform the service from a division-based force to a more mobile one built around brigade-size combat units. Integral to these efforts are programs designed to reset units to the new requirements, to maintain unit cohesion by letting troops spend more time in one unit and to create a stable, predictable rotation and maintenance cycle for active duty, reserve and National Guard forces.
The U.S. Navy is laying the keel of a human capital strategy that ultimately will make the service more robust and agile while simultaneously offering career opportunities unlike any seen in the past. Success of the initiative depends on the Navy's ability to integrate its active duty, reserve and civilian components; to create and catalog job descriptions; and to match sailors' knowledge, skills and abilities to the tasks at hand. The transformation is putting the Navy in a state of constant readiness to fight the war on terrorism, provide humanitarian aid, defend the homeland and support stability operations.
When people look at the ongoing force transformation, they probably see investments in technology changing the way that the military services are equipped. The goal is for the military to be better prepared to fight the nation's wars in the foreseeable future. This visage might translate to lighter, more agile forces; a more ground-centric military; or more automated and unmanned platforms-depending on the viewer's perspective.