In today’s U.S. defense policy debates, big land wars are out. Drones, cyber weapons, special forces, and space weapons are in. But what happens if we bet too heavily on these battlefield changes? Both historical and present day concerns argue that it’s not so easy to declare an end to large and messy land wars and other operations. In his new book, “The Future of Land Warfare” (Brookings Institution Press, 2015), Michael O’Hanlon offers an analysis of the future of the world’s ground forces. O’Hanlon considers a number of illustrative scenarios in which large conventional forces may be necessary and he asks hard questions about which situations might require significant numbers of American boots in the future.
On October 30, the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence hosted an event focused on these questions. Retired General David Petraeus, chairman of the KKR Global Institute and former commander of U.S. Central Command as well as the U.S.-led operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, joined Michael O’Hanlon to discuss the new book as well as related subjects. David Ignatius of The Washington Post, and most recently author of “The Director” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014), moderated the panel.