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A nation must think before it acts.
Recent and ongoing wartime experience has discredited much of the thinking that underpinned the “Defense Transformation” effort in the 1990s. If we are to be prepared for future conflict, it is vital that we learn from experience and adjust our thinking about war. It is time to develop idealized visions of future war that are consistent with what post-9/11 conflicts have revealed as the enduring uncertainty and complexity of war. These concepts should be “fighting-centric” rather than “knowledge-centric.” They should also be based on real and emerging threats, informed by recent combat experience, and connected to scenarios that direct military force toward the achievement of policy goals and objectives. We must then design and build balanced forces that are capable of conducting operations consistent with the concepts we develop.