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We are in the early stages of what promises to be an extended debate about the future of conflict and the future of our defense establishment. Few will deny that the winds of change are blowing as never before, driven by a radically altered geopolitical situation, an evolving information-oriented society, advancing technology, and budgetary constraints. How our nation responds to the challenge of change will determine our ability to shape the future and defend ourselves against 21st century threats. The major issue, however it may be manifested, involves the degree of change that is required. Advocates, all along the spectrum from a military technical revolution to a revolution in military affairs to a revolution in security affairs, are making their cases. Military institutions are by their very nature somewhat conservative. History has shown that success has often sown the seeds of future failure. We as a nation can ill afford to follow in the footsteps of those who have rested on their laurels and failed to stretch their imaginations.

Often, those who are the most knowledgeable and experienced about a subject are not in the most advantageous position to understand a new world order. Yet these same individuals are often among the most credible voices and therefore are essential to progress. The authors of Shock and Awe are a highly accomplished and distinguished group with the credibility that comes from years of front line experience. Thus, this work is important not only because of the ideas contained within, but because of the caliber and credibility of the authors.

ACTIS seeks to articulate and explore advanced concepts. In sponsoring this work and in disseminating its initial results, we hope to contribute to the ongoing dialogue about alternatives, their promises, and their risks. As the authors note, this is a work in progress meant not to provide definitive solutions but a proposed perspective for considering future security needs and strategies. To the extent that vigorous debate ensues we will be successful.

David S. Alberts

Washington, D.C.

October 1996


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