The latest trend in the U.S. military is “near-peer conflict.” After nearly two decades of mainly counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, the Pentagon is changing gears. It is taking a step back in time to a more Cold War setting in preparing for conflict against potential adversaries like Russia and China. 

We can argue that open warfare with the Russians and/or Chinese, while entirely possible, is still very unlikely. As we’re seeing unfold in many places, large states are employing proxy forces as the U.S. has traditionally done since WWII. So the belief here is that while large state conflicts may erupt for short periods of time, the next conflict will be more of what we’re seeing now: wars by proxy. 

Yet, there still exist sub-state actors, like al-Qaeda, ISIS, al-Shabaab, etc. The threat from the combination of those types of forces makes for a very volatile mix. It will make it difficult for the U.S. to balance where our resources are employed in order to deal with these multiple threats simultaneously.

However, with the military gearing up for “near-peer” conflicts, we were curious as to how much the realm of combat medicine will change — and yes, everything about combat medicine will be very different in the near-peer combat realm.