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This is the first of three articles addressing some of the challenges facing the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in developing effective weapons and systems to meet the challenges of the 21st century. This first installment addresses a number of issues centering on the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), including what it is, how it is being waged, what effect it is having on long-term national defense strategy and force structure planning, and the GWOT requirements for developing weapons and tactics to meet these challenges. The second article in the series will focus on engineering a new generation of weapons and systems to win the war on terrorism. The final article will examine new approaches and methods for developing and fielding more capable defense systems faster with a smaller defense acquisition infrastructure in the next century.