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The Next World War Won’t Be Anything Like the Last. Here’s How the U.S. Must Prepare.

Dean Emeritus Admiral James Stavridis and Elliot Ackerman (F03) elaborate on the premise of their new book, "2034: A Novel of the Next World War."

Imagine a crisis with China that escalates into a world war 10 years or so from now. Would the United States stand a chance in such a conflict?

If you believe that future wars will be conducted like those in the past, in which the sophistication and numbers of our ships, planes and tanks are the essential metric of dominance, then the United States remains in an enviable position.

But the world is evolving quickly and dangerously. And in war, what is past is rarely prologue.

Today, our fleet of aircraft carriers remains unmatched. But carrier warfare, particularly of the kind that began nearly a century ago, is becoming antiquated and challenged by undersea threats. Autonomous technologies, such as low-cost swarms of air- and sea-based drones coupled with hypersonic missiles, could shift the balance of power on the oceans. Imagine a sky filled with aircraft, or an ocean filled with ships, on a scale we have not witnessed since World War II. Now, imagine that those platforms are entirely unmanned.

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