Now what?

America has just ended its longest-ever war, and leaders are considering what comes next after Iraq and Afghanistan.

After two decades of counterinsurgency saw the American military conduct unforeseen campaigns, what's the future of defense for Colorado's 45,000 active-duty troops, and for the country in general?

What does our next war look like?

After watching the Taliban retake Afghanistan in days after our troops fought there for 20 years, is it time to rethink our approach to war-making in foreign lands? To nation-building? To how we most effectively intersect with the rest of the world?

And how does America prepare amid rising tensions with rivals like Russia and China and gear up for battle in new domains including space and the realm of artificial intelligence when robots could rule future battlefields?

Will our new wars all be virtual? Cyberwars and drone wars?

Join the Gazette and KKTV for a Community Conversation on Oct. 28 that brings your questions to a panel of experts moderated by city editor Tom Roeder, who has covered national defense for more than two decades.

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“After Afghanistan: The Future of Warfare” will be held at the Southeast Armed Services YMCA at 2190 Jet Wing Drive at 6 p.m. You can sign up for the conversation at gazette.com/community and submit your questions in advance for our panelists. The town hall will also be livestreamed on the web sites of both the Gazette and KKTV.

Our panelists include:

  • Retired Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, cyber expert and head of the National Cybersecurity Center, a Colorado Springs-based think tank that focuses on information security and blockchain technology. Raduege served 35 years in the Air Force in a variety of roles in information technology and cyber operations.
  • Retired Lt. Gen. Chris Miller, a 1980 Air Force Academy graduate and former Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs. Miller is currently at the Air Force Academy as the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Chair for the Study of Profession of Arms.
  • Retired Lt. Col. Kyleanne Hunter, an AH-1W Super Cobra Marine Corps combat veteran and director of the Strategy and Warfare Center at the Air Force Academy. Hunter is an assistant professor of military and strategic studies.
  • Maj. Jamil Brown, a fellow at the Air Force Academy Institute for Future Conflict. He also serves as a political science instructor and coordinates future conflict research opportunities between faculty, cadets and potential partners.
  • Schuyler Foerster, visiting professor of political science at Colorado College and former Scowcroft Professor for National Security Studies at the Air Force Academy.

Dustin Gray has the toughest question to ask of our leaders contemplating future wars.

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Gray had already served three years in the Army when 19 Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airplanes 20 years ago, flying two into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, one into the Pentagon outside Washington D.C. with the fourth crashing in a field in Shanksville, Pa.

Gray was in upstate New York stationed at Fort Drum during the 9/11 attacks and said he lost a lot of friends in the first few years of the war we launched in Afghanistan because of that day.

“I kind of feel like this pullout is a slap in the face to friends I’ve lost,” Gray told our military reporter, David Bitton. “What the hell did they die for? Leaving and handing the country right back to the Taliban, are you kidding me?”

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Before the lives of our soldiers are thrown into another war, let’s make sure we can answer Dustin’s questions unequivocally.

In our future wars, what will the soldiers of Colorado Springs fight for, and die for?

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