In grappling with the future of war and warfare it is useful to have a mental framework to consider the potential impacts of the matters at issue. In considering futures those matters range widely from large scale societal changes through to narrower next generation technological advances that continue the service of legacy fleets.
The framework offered here is probably most useful for the novice. Early in one’s work in future studies it is easy to become fascinated with the import of some particular matter, and suddenly you’re looking at a tree or two, not the forest. This notion of a framework was sparked by Kuhn’s work on paradigms in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  A lot of future war and warfare work occurs within the existing paradigm, it is roughly analogous to Kuhn’s ‘normal science’.  In contrast some future of war work identifies problems with the paradigm. If these problems turn out to materialise, they may just be revolutionary and result in establishing a new paradigm.  Consequently I offer a paradigm of the western way of war and warfare. It is a set of rules of thumb, joined together, and is the result of Colin Gray’s approach of trinitarian thinking.
The framework (figure 1) involves a two part diagram of the interdependent activities of war and warfare. These two parts exist under the Clausewitzian axiom that war is a continuation of policy.  The two parts are also bridged by the reminder that war is indeterminate, but that people are generally wired to seek causality, and in the case of the undertakings of a State, certitude of causality.
The framework contains a number of trinities (four and three in each part respectively). They need not be limited to this number, but given I am offering something useful for heuristics, going beyond these seven seems to me to have diminishing utility. The part dealing with war includes two trinities that are drawn directly from Gray (in their turns from Clausewitz and Thucydides),  one indirectly from Gray’s work, and one that starts with Delbruck. The frame dealing with warfare has a trinity drawn from Clausewitz, another from the thinking of Luttwak, Keegan and McRaven, and the final from Leonhard.
The framework dealing with the contemporary paradigm of war includes four trinities. These trinities include two that link directly to the western canonical approach to the enduring nature, and two that are my attempt at describing the contemporary character of war. They must be considered as building upon the fundament that war is a continuation of policy, and that policy is always subject to change.
The first is Clausewitz’s wondrous trinity as described by Gray in the Strategy Bridge. The second is Thucydides, again described by Gray, again in The Strategy Bridge.  This third trinity is an assertion on my part. It describes the targets of war. Those targets are the sources, instruments and objectives of an entity’s power. Each of the elements of this trinity can be explored in more depth if useful. For example, the sources of an entity’s power might be considered as geography, demography and economy. The instruments of power could be modelled on any number of existing approaches, DIME springs to mind as the most accessible example. The fourth trinity in establishing the framework for war deals with dominant approaches to affecting those targets. They are attrition, exhaustion and annihilation.  This fourth trinity is on the least solid ground, in part because Delbruck deliberately established a pair of ideas, not a trinity, and also because elements of the trinity are directly applicable in warfare as much as they are applicable in war.
Switching then to describe the frame dealing with warfare. Its first trinity is taken from Clausewitz. It hinges on the enduring idea that warfare is conducted in an environment that subjects participants to danger, uncertainty and friction.  The second is my attempt to describe the contemporary post heroic approach to warfare. This trinity draws on many sources, and on my personal experience.  It cannot be considered exhaustive, but instead ‘roughs out’ a reasonably coherent set of ways of warfare currently in use. It includes networked lethality, predictive intelligence, and relative superiority.
Networked lethality is my attempt at describing the number of current approaches that combine the mature ideas of network centric warfare with maturing ideas of distributed lethality. Relative superiority is taken from the Howard and Paret translation of Clausewitz and was developed into an idea central to special operations by McRaven.  Almost all contemporary military officers will recognise the enormous practical sophistication of this notion that has occurred over the past two decades. Predictive intelligence is my attempt at describing the practice established by analytical planning that includes speculation about system causality that lies at the heart of the critical factors approach to evaluating centre of gravity.  Predictive intelligence also contains within it the fundamentals of decision superiorly the notions of ‘better’ decisions made and disseminated faster than an adversary. As warfare goes on within a theatre sophisticated causal system-maps are developed that are then used as the basis of targeting. This last element, targeting, breaks the notion of a trinity, but as a fudge in the interest of consistency, I place targeting at the centre of this depiction.
The last trinity outlines approaches to defeating adversaries. It is taken from Leonhard’s The Art of Maneuver and has been present in our doctrine (noting that I include Leonhard’s pre-emption, rather than lumping it into dislocation) for the last two decades.  This set is indicative not exhaustive, and if needed one can develop a sense of additional effects from a close reading of ADDP 3.
The framework ends up looking something like figure 1. A trinitarian view of the contemporary paradigm of war and warfare.
The utility of a paradigm framework like this is that it allows you to quickly deduce where the important impacts of your work fall. Or where the premises of your argument are likely to meet with long standing fundamentals that will take some effort to overcome.
Take for example the developing consideration of whether or not technological convergence will change the nature of war. This framework allows you to quickly establish some necessary proofs that will need to be met. First, is technological convergence likely to change the fundament that war is a continuation of policy? Second, is technological convergence likely to change the interdependent relationship of the elements of the wondrous trinity? Third, is technological convergence likely to change the interdependent motives for the collective behaviour of security communities (fear, honour, interest)? If none of these proofs can be met then we are probably not looking at the break down of the existing paradigm.
As another example, while conducting futures work you might be called upon to consider the implications for war and warfare of some particular kind of emerging technology. A framework such as this supports you in elevating your consideration from specific means to conceptual thinking about ways. For example, will the particular emerging technology offer some new defeat mechanism? Will it render post-heroic approaches to warfare irrelevant, or indeed improve the performance within that model significantly?
Finally, the aim of such a simplistic framing of contemporary paradigm is to help you establish important questions that could form the basis of a close examination. It should be the genesis of exploration, not the start-point for establishing the limits of consideration.