Trends in the international security environment and changes in the character of warfare over the next two decades—the span of a military career—will demand officers with intellectual agility and strategic acuity. Over that period, the U.S. military may be called on to use force in any number of circumstances.
For years to come, we will still face the threat posed by al Qaeda and its affiliates, a global irregular conflict that will continue after combat operations end in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, we will have to deal with regional rogues who have (in the case of North Korea) or seek (in the case of Iran) nuclear weapons. Most consequentially, we face the rise of China and the growth of the Chinese military, which is already reshaping the Asian security environment and could have an even more profound and widespread impact on the international system.