The following piece appears at War On The Rocks, the Art of Future Warfare project’s media partner:
For a writer, there are few things more terrifying than a blank page. How many painters freeze when faced with a white canvas? The potential and promise amid deep doubt and nagging conformity can be debilitating.
That is worth keeping in mind as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel prepares to step down from his post, and his deputy Robert Work is left to tackle one of the Pentagon’s biggest challenges: how to evolve the U.S. military from its roots in the past 100 years into a force that will become more effective, not outmoded, with each passing decade of the 21st Century.
Now with the equivalent of a bureaucratic blank slate, the Department of Defense is in the midst of casting far and wide for new ideas and approaches to figure out how to preserve and increase America’s strategic advantage. One of the more promising measures, as Secretary Hagel recently told a gathering of defense heavyweights in California, is the creation of the Advanced Capability and Deterrent Panel, which “will invite some of the brightest minds from inside and outside government to start with a clean sheet of paper, and assess what technologies and systems DoD ought to develop over the next three to five years and beyond.”
If the Department really wants to break with the traditional approaches to figuring out the future, they should take this as an opportunity to remake the composition of the advisory panels tasked with cracking some of the country’s toughest national security problems. They should set new standards for creativity and insight by adding artists to the Advanced Capability and Deterrent Panel.