How would you describe US Marines

Close to panic, Captain Tristan Gupta climbs out of his armored jeep - just in time to see the last soldier of the storm troop enter the building. He looks at his remote holography device and is startled: It shows a room full of autonomous Chinese soldier robots. Gupta wants to warn his comrades, but it's too late. He has to watch helplessly as four soldiers of the unit are mowed down.

What reads like a scene from the latest Techno thriller by James Rollins or Dan Brown, actually comes from two officers of the US Marines Corps. Major Vic Ruble and Captain Sara Kirstein came up with the plot during a workshop. Your task: to use science fiction to identify the challenges that the US Army may have to face in the next 15 to 30 years.

Water shortages in giant cities

Of the 84 papers made by officers at Quantico, Virginia, 18 were selected. Their authors were joined by professional science fiction writers - including Max Brooks ("World War Z"), the son of director Mel Brooks and actress Anne Bancroft. The three best stories have now been published in the anthology "Science Fiction Futures: Marine Corps Security Environment Forecast 2030-2045" (a PDF with the texts here).

Many of the future topics discussed can already be guessed at today: dwindling resources, the risks inherent in genetically modified crops, population growth in the third world, which is causing an unchecked influx into the megacities - and global migration.

Vic Ruble and Sara Kirstein set their short story "Double Ten Day" in Taiwan's capital Taipei. A major earthquake sparked civil war there between mainland Chinese and Taiwanese armed forces. The world of the year 2030, which describes "Double Ten Day", is prone to such wars.

Three quarters of humanity live in large cities, many of them in one of 41 megacities. And where people live in such a cluster, so the thought of the authors, the urban warfare for scarce resources such as food and water has become normal. Especially when natural disasters make them scarce. A scenario that seems realistic. Urbanization is already a global problem. And the conflict over water has long been a reality in some parts of the world, for example in the West Bank between Israelis and Palestinians.

The importance of the USA is waning, China and India are filling the vacuum

The uncertainty of Americans about their own size, which shines through several times in the stories, is also of current relevance. The loss of former importance and power, which Donald Trump so effectively addressed in his election campaign, is what they write Marines continued in their stories. Both in "Water is a Fightin 'Word" by Lieutenant Molly Waters, as well as in the dystopian environmental drama "The Montgomery Crisis", on which Max Brooks contributed to seven soldiers, China and India have caught up with the USA as world powers.

In both stories, the US armed forces have also withdrawn from global trouble spots - a move that could also come with Donald Trump. The vacuum is filled by China and India.

In "The Montgomery Crisis" the authors describe a world order in which China has expanded its power. So much so that it plays a massive role in the everyday life of US Major Evans Hollande and his comrade, the Taiwanese-born female US Lieutenant Lee "Harper" Huan-Yue: "Harper fled Taiwan when the USA opened up withdrew from the world stage and Taiwan fell back to China, "the text reads. "Harper was an accomplished programmer who specialized in Chinese systems. When she got new data, Evans had to order her to stop digging through it and go to bed to catch a few hours of sleep. Evans suspected that her drive was to do maximum harm to the Chinese Communist Party. He made a mental note to watch out for any signs that might indicate irrational animosity in her. "

Imagine tomorrow today

Geopolitics brought down to the psychological and private level - exactly what fiction can do well. The experiment with science fiction short stories is intended for the Marines therefore find a continuation.

In the house newspaper Marines There will be a monthly science fiction column in the future, announced Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Kirchner at a symposium of the Washington think tank Atlantic Council. Not to entertain the soldiers, but to encourage them to imagine future scenarios. Hopefully, once they are high or middle-ranking officers, they will not be surprised because they have already faced the challenges in their minds.