10 trends for the future of warfare


When new capabilities cause a shift in the balance between offensive and defensive advantage – or even the perception of such a shift -, it could increase the incentives for aggression. For example, one of the pillars of nuclear deterrence is the "second strike" capability, which puts the following thought into the mind of an actor contemplating a nuclear attack: "even if I destroy my opponent's country totally, their submarines will still be around to take revenge". But suppose swarms of undersea drones were able to track and neutralize the submarines that launch nuclear missiles? Long-range aerial drones can already navigate freely across the oceans, and will be able to fly under the radar deep into enemy territory. Such capabilities make it possible in theory for an actor to escape the fear of second-strike retaliation, and feel safer in launching a pre-emptive strike against aircraft in their hangars, ships in port, and critical infrastructure, with practically no chance of early warning.

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