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Are we ready for the future of warfare?

Protecting against biowarfare starts with understanding the movement of diseases through populations.
September 4, 2018
Black and white image of a skull and crossbones

Because weakness in any of these areas can leave our nation vulnerable, our continued security lies in keeping our science and technology a step ahead.CREDIT: Chris Gorgio Getty Images

Are we ready for the future of warfare?

by Terry C. Wallace, Jr.

Warfare has always been about exerting political will. In the most basic way, that’s accomplished by one side inflicting enough pain on the other to compel them to acquiesce—and technology has always played a key role in doing that. The Greek phalanx, the crossbow, the cannon, poison gas: all introduced new, powerful methods of destruction on the battlefield and fundamentally changed the way war was fought.

Today, however, science and technology are being used to exert political will far from the traditional battlefield. Adversaries are exploiting space, cyberattacks, biology and other emerging technologies to significantly disrupt the systems underpinning our society—including telecommunications infrastructure, power grids, public health systems, transportation systems and financial institutions. In short, an adversary can gain advantage without ever firing a shot.

This story first appeared in Scientific American.