The war we never prepared for: how COVID-19 will transform the future Armed Forces

Were military decision-makers presented with the COVID-19 scenario? Did the military foresight community get it right enough in advance to have a better response now? How will this pandemic impact new Forces? The COVID-19 was officially promoted to “pandemic” from WHO on March 11th­. There were several references to it as a war – and in a war you need Armed Forces able to deter, engage, compete, and win against that enemy. There are three ingredients in a successful campaign — the right strategy, the right Forces, and the right execution. While strategy and execution are the fruit of military studies and the art of command, the right Forces have to be designed, developed, integrated, secured, and fielded. And due to the extreme peculiarities of military systems, the development cycle from conception to “pressing the red button” takes 20 years. This is why Defenses around the world have since long ago started their long-term foresight exercises. Conversely, “the blanket is always short”: Forces need to be prepared to be able to face more and more challenges with a constantly reduced budget. How can we square the circle? In this talk I will give an overview of the latest foresight efforts carried out in the Defense field, looking at what information was available and what could be the future trajectory for developments of future Forces after COVID-19.

April 11, 2020


Gabriele Rizzo

Gabriele Rizzo

Chief Futurist

HEC Lausanne, University of Lausanne