May 1, 2010  

In this issue

The Navy needs more subs than ever before, but under the new 30-year shipbuilding plan, it will have fewer than ever before.

Lance Bacon’s cover story examines the Navy’s seemingly dichotomous plan to drop to a low of 39 attack subs in 2030 while increasing missions for an already stretched fleet.

Dichotomy is also at the heart of Paul Scharre’s article on what the appropriate balance should be between the Army’s conventional and irregular capabilities: a fight that continues to be waged between the counterinsurgency advocates and the traditionalists.

Another balancing act is how to make best use of increasingly powerful persistent surveillance technologies while ensuring those same capabilities are not used against us. Tim Junio and Jonathan Protz provide insights for staying ahead of this technological revolution.

Richard Boyd peers into the future at another technological revolution born of the computer gaming world that has significant potential for the military. Virtual environments coupled with artificial intelligence can immerse troops in complex environments and situations before they are deployed. Your next instructor may be an avatar.

Sean McKenna’s world, by contrast, is grounded in the stark realities of the field artillery, where a bad piece of data can make the difference between a good day and a truly horrible day. Sean, a retired special operations and field artillery officer working on the ISAF Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team in Afghanistan, spells out the dangers of spreading the roles of field artillery soldiers beyond their core mission.

Col. Mickey Addison’s mission is to direct the Pentagon’s joint basing program, fusing 25 individual service bases into 12 shared facilities. Cultural awareness, one can’t help thinking, is about to become a skill necessary right here at home.

And Bob Killebrew starts our reading with another close-to-home peril: the crime-motivated insurgencies creeping across our southern border.