Wars will remain on the minds of people for generations to come, because there is always the possibility, the drive, and the ability to wage war. Hence, warfare will continue as it always has, with the better replacing the older, weaker versions along the road to the ideal of "military perfection". Because of the potential consequences of war, we must take a look at the forms of wars to come.
This article serves as a basic overview of futuristic militaries.
Out of the Shattered Earth
In order to understand the military situation, it is best to first analyze the political situation.
As has occurred since the beginning of time, the Earth will continue to be divided between different factions, each with its own leaders, its own cultures, its own peoples, its own political agenda. This phenomenon, nationalism, will continue for some time to come, yet it will in time be supplanted by the slow but steady increase in alliance to the world as a whole rather than to individual nations.
This trend can already be seen in the formation of such prominent organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, and the World Health organization. Other, smaller NGO's--non-governmental agencies--already exist, and help to unify the peoples of the world along common fronts for their objectives.
There are many fronts along which worldwide unification will become more and more important. For example, the political needs of diplomacy, collaboration, economic sanctions, trade alliances, and political pressure all combine to strengthen the United Nations. Generally, the United Nations is on the path to greater prominence; but this change will not come on its own; the United Nations must first prove that its concurrences are supportable, and that its Security Council proves to be of valid power. Clearly, this can be done in two ways: economic and military.
The War on Terror
Additionally, the contemporary "War on Terror" will continue and become increasingly prominent on the global scale to the point of massively influencing both the political and the military situation. This crisis is compounded by the fact that unlike national-level wars, terrorist groups do not hold much of a target and therefore are more resilient in their methods of conducting warfare.
Along another front, the growing situation of global warming will lead to the rise of coalitions dedicated to a "War on Global Warming". Those nations in this group will first prove to themselves that doing so is fiscally responsible and politically advantageous. Other situations include the drive to find a replacement for the nonrenewable resources, the international collaboration of research efforts, outsourcing jobs to other places, and the enlargement of the World Health Organization.
The War Fought on Many Fronts
The development of the military is progressing along several broad fronts. Conventional warfare, such as aircraft, missiles, tanks, rocket launchers, ships, submarines, and infantry, will continue to exist in every nation's military. However, these means of warfare are becoming increasingly replaced with newer, experimental technologies relying on different fields of study. The newer means are generally far cheaper than continued occupation by an army, and generally their effects differ significantly, allowing for various functions to be performed to their optimal extent with the least cost.
The next front developed after the conventional was the guerrilla, developed in times long forgotten, placing reliance on limited operations on the covert level with maximized effectiveness of limited means. This mode of warfare is clearly more efficient than conventionalized war, and generally results in difficult attempts to eradicate. Guerrilla forces have triumphed in many wars, notably the Vietnam War. In other situations, and increasingly in the modern era, guerrilla warfare is fast becoming impractical. Without an organized leadership such as those consisting of Hezbullah and al Qaida, to name a few, smaller groups with modest means cannot obtain the same level of military leverage to pose much of a threat to occupying nations.
Chemical warfare was devised for the first time on a prominent level in World War One, with the advent of mustard gas. Lately, the variety of chemicals wielded to killing, demonstration-disrupting, or eradicating purposes have increased significantly, fueled by continuing interest in chemistry.
Informatics is quickly becoming another field of warfare, one that generally entails reduced bloodletting and more "brains". Various fields, such as ELINT (electronics intelligence--tapping into conversations, controlling the internet) and SYSINT (systems intelligence--finding out how operations work) have grown to bureaucratic levels, as have radar, sonar, doppler, and other detection methods.
Then in the 1940's, the Manhattan Project resulted in the development of the thermonuclear chain reaction, initiating the global arms race of the century. Though with the advent of the United Nations, such activities are impractical, they continue to be used in limited instances such as "bunker busters". Dirty bombs--conventional explosives with radioactive contaminants--are quickly gaining in prominence due to their ease of use and extent of effect.
An age-old method (arguably the first ever devised) that has only recently become feasible on a great and possibly terrible scale is biological warfare, entailing the use of pathogens and other creatures to sicken, decrepify, or kill countless people. Though this has not been applied to a significant extent, as the twenty-first century progresses the chances of a group's successfully applying biotechnology to manufacturing a plague continues to increase. Furthermore, as the world becomes more and more globalized and populated, the effects of such a plague are too often underestimated.
The awareness of the media is becoming an ever greater concern. Politicians now must heed the cries of the masses for rollbacks on their overt domestic and foreign agenda, and in many democratized nations the extent of military activity is clearly shown to any citizen who wishes to investigate the matter. We have here, then, the general conflict between the state and the seemingly recalcitrant media organizations, such as newspapers, magazines, posters, internet communication, radio, and television.
The Path of Things to Come
As warfare increasingly becomes something to be scorned, attention will turn away from warfare toward the other means of garnering support and power, notably the persuasion of the masses. Gradually, culture, language, religion, ideals, and propaganda will supplant the ambitious state's need for a military force.
War has now left the ground. It has entered the water, the earth below us, and the sky above. It has enveloped the world and become more and more destructive in the same way that living beings evolve to become better and better. It is a progress that continues relentlessly, as such is the law of nature. Before long, it will enter the nanotechnological level and the realm of space, the last (known) frontiers. When it does, we will see yet additional revolutions in warfare, as have all the drastic changes that preceded it.