Cover: Alternative Futures and Their Implications for Army Modernization

Alternative Futures and Their Implications for Army Modernization

Published 2003

by John Gordon IV, Brian Nichiporuk


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As it carries out its long-term force structure and modernization plans, one useful approach for the Army to take is based on the analysis of “alternative futures.” Having developed several plausible alternative futures (looking out roughly 25 years), the authors describe each one’s possible implications for the Army’s likely missions and the forces required for those missions, discussing the impact on Army modernization plans. The futures range from a benign, relatively peaceful world all the way to a dangerous, chaotic world containing many “failed states.” The research indicated that the creation of medium forces was a good long-range strategy for the Army, since those forces appeared to be relevant in many of the possible futures. Traditional heavy forces were found to be useful in a limited number of the possible futures and should therefore receive relatively fewer modernization resources. Army aviation appeared to be applicable to most of the futures, but there could be a need to shift the balance from attack-type aviation to transport aircraft, depending on which future appeared more likely. In all cases, increased C4ISR seemed to be a very important capability. Even within that category, however, there might be a need to focus C4ISR resources in different ways. For example, in some futures, there would be a need to stress unconventional operations in urban areas rather than systems more applicable to locating conventional enemy forces in open terrain.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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