According to the U.S. Army Operating Concept, the Army “cannot predict who it will fight, where it will fight, and with what coalition it will fight.” Though the Army cannot know its next fight, it can imagine it and that intellectual exercise could be important to help win in the future. Fiction writing is a tool to help imagine the unknown.
Now the Army has a place to sharpen and use the tool of imagination and fiction. The Army Press is hosting the Future Warfare Writing Program; a forum to conduct thought experiments that can help military leaders imagine the future. The Army Press Online will publish accepted works of fiction and essays that present ideas on options that might be available to the Army as it addresses dilemmas it could face in the future.
“Fiction helps us imagine how current trends might play out or how new innovations might have an impact,” said Amanda Hemmingsen, an editor for the Army Press Online. “It is a cousin to war-gaming in that it creates opportunities to play out potential scenarios and prepare for them.”
The idea of fiction examining future warfare is not new. The 1925 novel The Great Pacific War by Hector Bywater explores a scenario that begins with a Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Robert Heinlein’s 1959 novel Starship Troopers is on several lists of recommended reading for military professionals.
Ghost Fleet, a novel about future warfare published in 2015, taps into this idea by presenting ideas about what global warfare might look like in the future from today. The authors, P.W. Singer, a strategist at New America, and August Cole, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, take strategy discussions outside the normal boundaries of white papers and forums and presents it in narrative form.
“The ability to test out ideas and concepts before the stakes are really high is a big part of what fiction helps us do,” said Cole.
The Future Warfare Writing Program is open to everyone, whether in the Army or not. The Army Press is looking for works of speculative fiction or essays that examine the challenges and dilemmas of future conflict. Learn more by visiting the Army Press at http://armypress.dodlive.mil/.