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War Transformed

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War Transformed

The Future of Twenty-First-Century Great Power Competition and Conflict

Naval Institute,

15 min read
7 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A timely, prescient and important examination of the past, present and future of warfare.


Editorial Rating

9

Qualities

  • Visionary
  • Concrete Examples
  • Insider's Take

Recommendation

Major General Mick Ryan (Ret.) completed this visionary description of evolving warfare only months before the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. His insights eerily reflect daily reports from that front. He describes Chinese and Russian aggression and the use of simultaneous cyber, political and conventional forms of war as a wake-up call to Western democracies – whose leaders have already begun to face this new realm of war. Despite some structural challenges in the book, Ryan’s timely, insider’s view of contemporary and future warfare proves deeply relevant and informative. He also emphasizes an important strategy underlying military success: always stay curious and never stop learning.

Summary

History teaches that war is inevitable.

War emerges from fear, honor, revenge and other elements of human nature. Human nature, if it changes at all, shifts by nanometers over centuries. Despite claims by Steven Pinker and others to the contrary, violence, war and killing have not declined. Periods of peace dot the historical landscape, but even over the past two centuries, war has continued apace. Like it or not, nations must prepare for war.

Unfortunately, preparation for war demands a significant share of a nation’s treasure and of its human capital. Since the end of the Cold War, most democracies – especially those in the West – relaxed their vigilance, assuming that modern conflict will involve economics and trade rather than tanks and bombs. Events have proven these optimists wrong.

As China, Russia and Iran build war capacities, democracies must recognize their threat.

China’s army exceeds two million people; Russia’s is nearly a million. Despite large armies, future wars will feature smaller, faster engagements, often with autonomous systems vastly outnumbering boots...

About the Author

Mick Ryan rose to the rank of major general in the Australian Army.


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