Is Ours a Nation at War

By Center for Army Lessons LearnedOctober 27, 2021

"Is Ours a Nation at War" challenges our accepted way of thinking about war. A year ago, I directed TRADOC to look at how the operational environment was being affected by COVID-19 and recent adversary initiatives. The following builds on that work. It questions basic assumptions. It identifies national security vulnerabilities. And it provides new, innovative, and exciting recommendations by great Americans from throughout our society.

America’s adversaries recognize and respect its impressive battlefield capabilities. They don’t want to confront us, at least not yet. How does our Army meet the challenges posed by adversaries who seek to sidestep US battlefield advantages while pursuing their national security objectives during the period 2021-2030? The TRADOCG-2 developed a campaign of learning spanning five months, one drawing on expert opinion from the military, intelligence, rest of government, academic, and industry communities to find answers and provide counsel. These fresh thinkers—young and old, serving and retired—gave their valuable time to provide recommendations not only to the Army, not only to our military, but to all in government and beyond.

We are a threat-based Army. US Army TRADOC focuses on training that Army for war. We have traditionally considered our soldiers and leaders our asymmetric advantage. But what if adversaries are already competing with us in ways that seek to avoid our battlefield capabilities? What if foes look at war in ways we do not? Our people will remain the key to meeting new challenges. For the Army, that means developing ethical leaders and training in realistic and innovative ways to ensure we stand ready to defend the United States no matter the nature of the threat: cyber, informational, technological, or otherwise, on the battlefield or off. We ready ourselves to be the best combat force in the world. That is a necessary condition. Insights from the campaign of learning tell us that America’s Army also needs to look beyond the battlefield. While it must not lose its ability to fight and win, it must be able to compete and persevere in other ways as well. It must do so hand-in-hand with our joint, interagency, multinational, industry, and other partners. The pages below provide a look at new types of threats, what to do about them, and how to do it.

We thank those who joined TRADOC in discussing these problems as they offered us their best thinking—thinking that reaches beyond this command and our Army. I encourage you to join us in continuing to ready our country to meet whatever faces us in the decades ahead.

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