Recent events in Ukraine demonstrate that the potential for major theater war in the 21st century is not as unthinkable as conventional wisdom may hold, said Peter Singer, a senior fellow for New America Foundation, on Thursday. Singer and the coauthor of his newest book, August Cole, conducted extensive research and interviews with those who would fight in such a conflict—from the US and around the world—and those who would plan and lead such a war. Unlike the wars of the 20th century, new factors must be explored about such an “unthinkable” scenario, said Singer. For instance, he noted, the “lifeblood” of the US military today is a vast network that commands and controls forces and provides intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance through two unexploited domains in World War II: cyberspace and space. Gaming out how this network could be challenged, and how it would affect the “qualitative” difference US forces have built into force planning could help avert potential disaster in a future conflict, he noted.
While some of the Air Force's newly announced changes will happen quickly, it may take most of Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin's tenure in the job to accomplish the rest, he said in a Brookings Institution event Feb. 28.