Unfolding the Future of the Long War

Unfolding the Future of the Long War: Motivations, Prospects, and Implications for the U.S. Army

Christopher G. Pernin
Brian Nichiporuk
Dale Stahl
Justin Beck
Ricky Radaelli-Sanchez
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 228
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mg738a
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  • Book Info
    Unfolding the Future of the Long War
    Book Description:

    The United States is currently engaged in a military effort that has been characterized as the "long war." This study explores the concept of long war and identifies ways in which it might unfold as well as the implications for the Army and the U.S. military more generally. This report uses the generation of either "trajectories" or alternative paths in which the long war might unfold to explore the implications for the U.S. military.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4673-4
    Subjects: Technology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxviii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  8. Glossary
    (pp. xxxi-xxxiv)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The United States is engaged in a military effort that some have characterized as the “long war.” The long war has been described by some as an epic struggle against adversaries bent on forming a unified Islamic world to supplant Western dominance. Others see it more narrowly as an extension of the war on terror. The long war has been posited as the central challenge to U.S. security that will influence and be shaped by all other U.S. international relations. Others have seen it as a conflict requiring specialized tactical groups of well-trained forces that roam the world in a...

  10. CHAPTER TWO What Is the Long War?
    (pp. 5-22)

    To understand and describe how the current long war might unfold in the coming years, it is first necessary to understand what the long war actuallyis. Since no definition for the long war has been widely accepted, in this chapter we review recent uses of the term and propose our own definition of long war.

    While we feel that our definition accurately characterizes the current long war in a fair and politically uncharged manner, we do not use it exclusively in the rest of the report. To broaden the applicability of this report to cover a range of potential...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Who Is Involved in the Long War?
    (pp. 23-40)

    In an attempt to define more precisely the long war that the United States now confronts, an effective description of the adversary is required. Attempts have been made in this direction. However, many of these definitions are not entirely satisfactory, resulting in either the exclusion of important actors or an obfuscation of the strategically important differences among these actors. We thus begin this chapter with a reflection on the definitions that have been set forth, particularly focusing on those from the QDR and NLWS as examples.

    The chapter then details two sequential but separate ways of deconstructing the potential threats...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR What Will Affect the Way the Long War Unfolds?
    (pp. 41-56)

    In this chapter we identify the major factors that we believe are likely to have a significant influence in determining which of the future trajectories, if any, comes to pass. A number of factors describe what a future scenario might look like. Some of these are highly strategic (or global), others are more regional. The factors chosen here are the ones that would seem to have the greatest influence on the type of long war that might be fought. They were developed through examination of the literature.

    All planning documents make assumptions about the future. Methodologies have been developed to...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE How Might the Long War Unfold?
    (pp. 57-94)

    This project is focused on exploring how the current long war might evolve and develop in the coming years. The development of individual trajectories is an offshoot of the generation of alternative futures.

    With alternative futures, the researcher probes a large number of potential strategic drivers and uncertainties for a breadth of plausible situations the world might find itself in well into the future. The creation of “trajectories” takes a more narrow view. With trajectories, more importance is placed on how the futures areunfoldingand less on what the futurelooks like. Thus, the time period of this discussion...

  14. CHAPTER SIX What Does This Mean for the Army?
    (pp. 95-116)

    This study’s assessment of the assumptions and uncertainties associated with the future combat environment, combined with an understanding of the unique components of the long war, provides a basis for determining a set of specific strategies for the United States in the long war, and hence a greater understanding of the implications of these trajectories for the military. The potential strategies for the long war help the military to better assess the range of force sizes and structures that it may need to develop to fight it.

    Our list of strategies was formulated by drawing on official sources, including the...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Observations on the Long War
    (pp. 117-124)

    Shown in Table 7.1 are the breakdowns of the various trajectories as they have been interpreted in the study. These “ratings” are open for further debate, and are generated from the interpretations detailed in the previous chapter.

    Based on the implications from specific trajectories, broad observations about the effect the long war will have on the U.S. military can be generated. This chapter lists some broad observations about this overall exercise.

    Rhetorical use of the term “long war” aside, the basic tenets of the GTI construct provide one means of ensuring a more systemwide view of any engagements in the...

  16. APPENDIX A Short Descriptions of Ideology, Governance, and Terrorism
    (pp. 125-150)
  17. APPENDIX B The Use of Civilizational Conflict When Describing the Long War
    (pp. 151-156)
  18. APPENDIX C Interpreting the Influence Diagram
    (pp. 157-164)
  19. APPENDIX D Relating Long War Strategies to Grand Strategies
    (pp. 165-170)
  20. APPENDIX E Location of Oil and Natural Gas Resources
    (pp. 171-174)
  21. APPENDIX F Demographic Trends and Factors
    (pp. 175-180)
  22. APPENDIX G Water in the Middle East
    (pp. 181-182)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-194)