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Reconceiving Modern Warfare: A Unified Model

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Journal Article - Open Access

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National Defense University Washington United States

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The U.S. military has numerous ways it describes, conceives of, and organizes for war. Added capabilities and new technologies continually spur new terms and efforts, even new warfare types, to describe operations in a way that is helpful for organization, planning, and execution. These definitions and paradigms are useful in disaggregating the challenge or technology to understand it better, but they work in opposition to a comprehensive understanding of 21st-century warfare, even while attempting to further it. Joint warfighting requires a new model that enables integrated thinking across the many disparate capabilities, technologies, and applications of the tools, concepts, and personnel used today and in the future, while simultaneously enabling tactical planning, operational design, strategic discussion, and execution. This article proposes a unified model of warfare, tailored for modern technologies and emerging concepts as well as strategic thought, which bring together several existing paradigms in use today. Unifying these models enables broader consideration, integration, and innovation in warfare, but most important, allows discussion of, planning for, and prosecution of modern warfare to be simple and mission-focused. What is war in the 21st century Often, this phrase expresses a warfare that is more complex, multifaceted, faster- paced, and more human-centric andor more dependent on technology than warfare in earlier centuries. As used here, 21st-century warfare is simply warfare as prosecuted in the 21st century. It includes every weapon or tool from the most basic to the most advanced state and nonstate actors as adversaries, third parties, and partners and military, paramilitary, and ad hoc forces. It is not relegated to two irreconcilable wills there can be many.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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