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The 21st Century Security Environment and the Future of War

Author: Colin S. Gray
Organisation: University of Reading, UK
Publish Date: 2008
Country: Global
Sector: Public
Method: Forecasting
Theme: Protection
Type: Article
Language: English
Tags: Defence, Planning, Future conflict, War, Military implications, Security
Defense planning needs to be based on political guidance, and that guidance should make its assumptions explicit. Sometimes we neglect this, and the oversight can prove costly. Conditions, which is to say contexts, can change, and so should the working assumptions behind policy. You can forget what your assumptions have been if you forgot to make them explicit. Of course, we can alter our political guidance, and the assumptions on which it is based, in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, to change defense realities takes somewhat longer. What this time lag says to the wise person is that, “yes, political assumptions should be fairly permissive and inclusive, but the guidance for defense planning has to be broader still.” If we get it wrong politically, which we are near certain to do to some degree, we can make a rapid political adjustment. But to change defense posture typically takes years, even decades.
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