The Changing Character of War: Challenges and Recommendations

  • Colonel Brendan Arcuri

The forces of globalization are eroding state sovereignty, empowering non-state actors, and increasing the prospect of intra-state conflict. Greater interdependence between states has reduced the prospect of state-on-state conflict between powerful industrial age armed forces. However, the likelihood of intra-state conflict with non-state armed groups and conflict with globally networked non-state actors has increased. The United States lacks a credible deterrence for dissuading undesirable behavior in violent non-state armed groups. Consequently, the United States must consider the policy and strategy implications of the changing global environment and the character of war. The author recommends changing USSOF doctrine, organization and training in order to increase success against violent non-state actors and networked insurgents, who take advantage of asymmetries in power, economy, and technology to challenge state sovereignty and the international order.