Following the future of war can be tricky, since most of the people thinking hard about it—military strategists, senior diplomats, intelligence agencies—are also doing their best to make sure their rivals don’t catch on to their plans. Still, there are plenty of resources to understand the changing world of warfare.
Dig into the big-time documents. Military and bureaucracy go hand in hand, which in the United States means the Pentagon is typically churning out a National Defense Strategy every few years, and you can read an unclassified summary (pdf) to get the 30,000-foot view of US defense posture. Congress also has a panel, the National Defense Strategy Commission, which offers another useful perspective. The RAND Corporation’s in-depth analysis of the gaps between the vision expressed in the official strategy and the resources available to execute it is an enlightening document.
Watch the military-industrial complex. To keep a close eye on the military-industrial complex, subscribe to the daily contract announcements issued by the Pentagon. You can sign up for similar announcements from the State Department, describing every sale of US weapons abroad. For international data, the Stockholm Peace Research Institute maintains a comprehensive database of arms sales, military budgets, and the largest defense contractors.