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Future Trends and US National Security
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL AIR FORCE RESEARCH INST
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The study of the future is difficult and dynamic but extraordinarily valuable. Multiple forces have significant influences over how the future unfolds. Political, social, economic, technological, environmental, and military trends create enormous pressures that drive the patterns and currents that shape the future. Even as our world has become more complex, the study of the future has become sophisticated, and new methodologies have evolved to help examine, innovate, and evaluate both potential futures and the decisions that will impact these futures.1 Unsurprisingly, some of the new futures research methods are highly quantitative while others are wholly qualitative. Yet all of the research methods share the same goal of expanding what we know about the present to help us understand what the future may bring. The Air Command and Staff College ACSC student master s research theses in this book are thoughtful, credible, and, in several cases, award-winning attempts to develop future visions. These creative future visions offer insights into long-range strategies, policies, and plans that will augment and prepare US national security policy for a spectrum of uncertain futures. Optimally, these future trends papers will essentially enhance anticipatory consciousness, and their true value will be measured not by how accurate they are but by their usefulness in planning and opening minds to consider new possibilities and changing the policy agenda. 2 Clearly, the purpose of these papers is to help us make better decisions today by enabling us to anticipate opportunities and threats and consider how to address them. And strategically it is better to anticipate, rather than just respond to change. 3
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE