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Global Futures Report: Alternative Futures of Geopolitical Competition in a Post-Covid-19 World: A Collaborative Analysis with Foresight Practitioners and Experts

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Technical Report

Corporate Author:

Strategic Foresight and Futures Branch, Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability Washington United States

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The COVID-19 pandemic sheds an important light on the criticality of futures-based thinking to move us beyond conventional assumptions and positions. In todays chaotic cycle of rapid change, growing complexity, and radical uncertainty, the national security establishment must develop the skills and flexibility to adapt to the unexpected. To be sure, the fallout from COVID-19 has revealed overlooked vulnerabilities for our supply chains, our society, our economy, and most pertinent for this report our national security strategy, which relies on all three. The primary aim of this report is to disrupt how we conceptualize national security futures. Rather than arrive at definitive conclusions or prescribe budgetary, policy, or force structure recommendations, this document instead challenges us to consider how the future can defy accepted probabilities to affect the Department of Defense and the Department of the Air Force. We are living far from equilibrium system, when novel and even catastrophic change are most likely. However, in every alternative future no matter how severe or unexpected there are always winners and losers. The organizations best positioned to seize and incorporate the exploits of the new order will be those with the capability to perceive, learn, and adapt even when the signals from tomorrow may seem utterly ridiculous today. We develop four overarching, global scenarios that feature transformation, collapse, discipline, and continued growth outcomes. These global scenarios do not represent the most probable or likely outcomes rather, the report harnesses emerging weak signals from environmental scanning analysis that likely seem improbable today and weaves them into the possible futures of a post-COVID world.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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