Joint Force Quarterly, Issue 95, 4th Quarter 2019, by Emily Bienvenue and Zac Rogers
Rapid shifts in the future operating environment present traditional Western armies with a number of strategic risks, including the speed and scope of change in the human and technical environment, and the expression of these elements through the prism of increasingly diverse and unpredictable threats to the regional and global rules-based order. These threats have emerged from the technology-driven shift from vertical to horizontal digital information flows and the associated degree of hyper-connectivity. This results in an expanded battlefield, with an increasing emphasis on cognitive vulnerabilities that do not discern between military and civilian domains or conditions of peace and war. This gives rise to a high-tempo threat environment of constant, unrestricted, and unbounded warfare. Together, these shifts in the strategic landscape amount to what is essentially a cognitive contest, one that goes beyond existing risk modelling and challenges the army to account for broader types of threats. This challenge reveals the critical role played by trust in the constitution and understanding of the nature and character of threats and the required response. Trust can provide the “cognitive shield” in the changing operating environment. The threat environment is forcing a reorientation on the army that is highly disruptive but also presents new opportunities. The necessary reorientation challenges the army to seriously consider its future roles and the structure and makeup of the key capabilities required to deliver the desired strategic engagement effects, integrated with close combat capabilities, in order to realize a strategic army.