War Transformed

The Future of Twenty-First-Century Great Power Competition and Conflict

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War Transformed: The Future of Twenty-First-Century Great Power Competition and Conflict provides insights for those involved in the design of military strategy, and the forces that must execute that strategy. Emphasizing the impacts of technology, new era strategic competition, demography, and climate change, Mick Ryan uses historical as well as contemporary anecdotes throughout the book to highlight key challenges faced by nations in a new era of great power rivalry. Just as previous industrial revolutions have advanced societies, the nascent fourth industrial revolution will have a similar impact on how humans fight, compete, and build military power in the twenty-first century.

After reviewing the principle catalysts of change in the security environment, War Transformed seeks to provide a preview of the shape of war and competition in the twenty-first century. Ryan examines both the shifting character of war and its enduring nature. In doing so, he proposes important trends in warfare that will shape all aspects of human competition and conflict in the coming decades.

The remainder of the book analyzes how military institutions must prepare for future competition and conflict. Competing and engaging in combat in this new era involves new and evolved strategies and warfighting concepts, as well as adapting our current military organizations. It will also demand building an intellectual edge in military personnel through evolved concepts of training, education, and development. As the competitive environment and potential battlefields continue to change, conceptions of combat, competition and conflict must also evolve. Mick Ryan makes the case for transforming how Western military institutions view war in this century.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“Few military leaders have thought as deeply about the future of war as Major General Mick Ryan. The result is a book rich in insights into the changing shape of conflict and strategic competition, and wise in its recommendations for how western militaries need to adapt to 21st century challenges.” —Theo Farrell, professor and deputy vice-chancellor for Education, University of Wollongong, and former head of the Department of War Studies, King’s College London
“While technology may be the catalyst for change in the coming 4th Industrial Revolution, our armed forces are ultimately altered by people, ideas, and institutions in that order. In War Transformed, General Ryan's timely and immensely readable book, the reader gains a keen sense of how the old and the new in human conflict will impact the profession of arms. A must-read and a sure-fire product for all security studies and military educational programs.” —Frank G. Hoffman, National Defense University, author of Mars Adapting: Military Change During War
“In a sweeping review of war and strategy, from Thucydides and Sun Tzu to Clausewitz, Fuller, Cohen, Qiao and Wang, Ryan distills accelerating trends affecting the character of war to make a compelling case for a rejuvenation of the profession of arms to face the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and renewed great power contestation.” —John Blaxland, Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University
“With War Transformed, Mick Ryan establishes he is among the world’s leading writers and deepest thinkers on future conflict. This book is a must-read for those who want to understand how to stay on the right side of the increasingly thin line between victory and defeat during the coming decades.” —August Cole, co-author of Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution and Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War
“An essential read on the present and future of war, and I do not write that lightly. Mick Ryan's War Transformed is at the sweet spot of being both well written and incredibly informative.” —P.W. Singer, best-selling author of Wired for War, Ghost Fleet, and LikeWar
“Ryan’s book is a timely addition to the study of the art and science of war, particularly as the U.S. military, but also its UK counterpart, pivot away from 20 years of low-intensity conflict in Southwest Asia to the Indo-Pacific and Eastern Europe…. A refreshing take on the future of war.” —Diplomatic Courier
War Transformed is scholarly and stimulating, while being accessible and unafraid to look at the big picture. It is supported by footnotes and an extensive bibliography…. One of its useful aspects is concise outlines of various current debates in strategic issues. Ryan writes clearly, and his calling out of the faddish buzzwords and abstractions pervading security discourse, creating an exclusive language, is well suited to the need for public understanding and buy-in. There is no shortage of futurological studies of warfare, but this is a worthy addition to the genre, a valuable and timely book, handsomely produced, and definitely recommended.” —Australian Naval Institute
War Transformed is a well-thought-out commentary on the nature and character of 21st century warfare and the importance of human preparation to deal with rapidly changing factors of international competition and conflict…. His conclusions offer sound recommendations for robust education and training of military personnel to accept change, encourage new ideas, and develop mastery of tactics, operational art, and strategy, asserting that ‘people are the heart of every military advantage.’” —Military Officer
Major General Mick Ryan (Ret.) completed this visionary description of evolving warfare only months before the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. His insights eerily reflect daily reports from that front. He describes Chinese and Russian aggression and the use of simultaneous cyber, political and conventional forms of war as a wake-up call to Western democracies – whose leaders have already begun to face this new realm of war. Despite some structural challenges in the book, Ryan’s timely, insider’s view of contemporary and future warfare proves deeply relevant and informative. He also emphasizes an important strategy underlying military success: always stay curious and never stop learning. —Getabstract
"War Transformed is strongly recom­mended as a guide to improve one's ability to navigate our uncertain future. Not everyone is a "surf rider," but this book will stretch minds and force readers to reassess longstanding assumptions and dated ideas. Its strength is in its synthesis of the ideas of many others, which makes War Transformed comprehensive and an excellent foundation for a security studies course." — Joint Forces Quarterly
"Thought-provoking, wide-ranging, cogently written and full of important insights about the looming conflicts of this century, War Transformed lends itself to professional development discussions at all levels. It is a book that belongs on every national security leader’s bookshelf, and its ideas should spark some serious soul-searching in the U.S. military, as well as among allies and partners, as to whether the U.S. military and its partners around the world are adapting and changing quickly enough to meet the challenges that all will face in future conflicts." — Association of the United States Army

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents from War Transformed by Mick Ryan