Be it military philosophies, social systems, cultural ethos, political doctrines, economic concepts, business environments and cosmic theories, technology over the last fifty years has been the prime mover of change. Myths have exploded, systems have collapsed, doctrines have been turned upside down; philosophies have been questioned; theories have been replaced; concepts have fallen apart and last but not the least, even the human anatomy is under the threat of reshaping itself.
The pace of change has suddenly accelerated with the beginning of the last decade of the second millennium. As it drew to a close, every known field of human activity and existence was in a state of upheaval and disorientation. The theme of the opening decade of the 21st century is to change, adapt, adjust and mount the technology-driven band-wagon of the times or perish.
All these changes have had the cascading effect on the general strategic environments as well, which in turn have affected the global balance of power and the philosophy of war. Rapid progress in ‘Nano technology’, space research, robotics, computers, genetic engineering, chemical, physical and biological sciences have revolutionized communications and energized the weapon systems, whose synergistic impact questioned the old form of war and war-making.
What future war are we thinking of if India loses the current war imposed on it? What good will be the army if there is no India tomorrow?
Everything from philosophy to doctrines, tactics to strategy, ‘battlefield-fronts’ to ‘battlefield-rears’, combat soldiers to non-combat operators, there is a virtual shift from the old form of war. Enhanced ranges, deadly lethality and perfect accuracy characterizes the modern world arsenal. Smart ammunition, with their mid-course and terminal guidance, has made the old dud-ammunition look ridiculous. There is a fusion of the battlefield and the rear areas, leading to extended frontiers of war but as synchronized and integrated fronts.
Nuclear devices, ethno-bombs and chemical agents spell as much danger to the white-collared gentlemen in the rear as to the men donning ‘olive greens’ on the front, implying there is no shield from their deadly effect for any one. In a given geographical area, users may suffer as much damage as the target. Consequences of a nuclear conflagration are unimaginable. The world is now getting to the view that there are no winners in a nuclear war.
Theories are being advanced which speak of ‘Designing of War’ (DOW) at the global level and War by Other Means (WOM) at the regional and local levels. Implicit in the DOW and WOM theories of war is a fact, where war is no more seen, merely as a ‘bull-fight’ of the two opposing armies in the ringed arena of national borders. It is the military truism for the first few decades of the third millennium.
Also, alluded to it is a corollary that future war would no more remain the sole domain of soldiers in olive green. There are soldiers of different hue and cry who would play more vital roles than the conventional soldiers. Think of ‘Smart Soldiers’ (Computer boys, scientists and technicians); ‘Irregular Soldiers’ of private armies call them terrorists, militants, insurgents, fifth columnists – what have you; ‘Cyber-Soldiers’ (info-manipulators), software experts, spin doctors and media barons and defense analysts. Thus, conventional soldiers have their roles considerably reduced. This is the reason most armies of the world have been cutting their flab. The trend is towards lean and thin armies of quality for a future envisaged role rather than heavyweight armies of quantity and numbers. All this due to the changing nature and form of war.
In the functional form, the war in the twenty first century is being viewed as a synchronized module of a ‘three act stage play’ rather than a hither-to-fore known ‘one act play’ of uniformed soldiers monkey-dancing across the borders. This ‘monkey dancing’ has been relegated to the last act of the synchronized module, which may or may not be necessary. Postulating his theory on the ‘brain-force-wars’ of the ‘third wave civilization’ in the twenty first century, Alvin Toffler paraphrases them as ‘Niche wars’ or the ‘Designer Wars’. The first two acts of these Designer Wars are more important than the third act because of their low costs.
The first act is of ‘Info War’ – a constant diatribe against the potential adversary to show him in poor light. Information will be controlled, manipulated, twisted and distorted to show the adversary as the mother of all worldly evils – a ‘rogue state’ which ought to be punished. ‘Cyber-soldiers and the Spin doctors’ have a tailor-made role to emotionally agitate world public opinion. Electronic and print media is the stage (read battlefield) on which this phase of war is waged. Near-authentic visual clips and in-person details of gory tales of woes are planted in the media to hypnotize the targeted audience. The world will be shown what is intended to be shown.
Time has come when it must be viewed in a holistic and integrated manner to understand the intricacies of Bleeding War and WOM.
Visibly disgusting, apparently shocking and morally unbelievable episodes, spun out of the fertile but imaginative minds of Spin doctors, will rake the moral consciousness of even the alleged accused. Gulf wars in 90–91 and 2001 have demonstrated as to how public opinions will be manipulated. Use of air waves will add different dimensions to this concept of war. War will be in the drawing rooms of everyone. Gulf wars, Kargil episode–1999 and Mumbai 26/11 have amply demonstrated that war has become soap operas of television. The case of Saddam Hussein and Iraq’s elusive WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) is very well known to all of us.
This dimension of the war had become apparent during the First Gulf War in 1990. It is part of history now as to how the young daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to USA in 1990 was doctored to narrate to the US senate an imaginary tale of rape and molestation by Iraqi soldiers.
National vulnerabilities of the adversary in the form of ethnic and racial cleavages, religious divisions, regional dissimilarities, lingual heterogeneity, economic imbalances and the cultural-chasm would be exploited to create a condition of anarchy and chaos.
The second act of the Designer War module is the ‘bleeding and squeezing’ phase. It may follow two courses, either concurrently together or separately or even singly. The first course could follow aggressive ‘Economic-War’ in the form of trade embargo, choking off development funds or levying economic sanctions. The second course would be to initiate covertly a ‘Bleeding War’ to destabilize or even balkanize the adversary. National vulnerabilities of the adversary in the form of ethnic and racial cleavages, religious divisions, regional dissimilarities, lingual heterogeneity, economic imbalances and the cultural-chasm would be exploited to create a condition of anarchy and chaos. Separatists’ movements will be encouraged. We will talk about it more in context of India, later.
The final act of the ‘Designer War’ is the quick ‘surgical operation’, using both smart-soldiers and conventional soldiers to inflict ultimate unacceptable damage to force the adversary to capitulate. This act, may or may not be enacted if ‘Act-One’ and ‘Act-Two’ have already produced the desired results. The 100 hours ground battle in the Gulf War in 90–91 was the culmination point of this nature of the ‘Designer-War’. ‘Act-Two’ was partially enacted as ‘Act-One’ had produced a very favorable world opinion for a quick surgical operation. The promised mother of all battles of Saddam Hussein turned out to be a damp squib.
Then, version-two of the Gulf war in 2001 showed its real impact. Also, there was no need for a low cost option of ‘Act-Two’ as the opposing players were the military unequal. On one side was the high-tech army of ‘Third wave civilization’ which was lean and efficient. On the other side was a low-tech army of Second wave-civilization which was all flab and human mass. It was brain versus brawn or quality versus quantity. The brain won, the brawn disintegrated.
Arguably, in the light of the prevailing geo-strategic environments, along with the current level of technological disparities with the USA and parity at the regional level, nations cannot think in terms of launching surgical operations against their adversaries. The only nation, who has some semblance of a near-technological and weapon-system parity to defy USA, is China. But then think-tanks in USA have been keeping themselves occupied to deliver ‘a-la-Soviet’ on China. In short, military and technological parity prevents opposing nations from going all out as per the old and classic concept of war. Kargil–99 and Mumbai–26/11, despite the rhetorical noise of our leaders, demonstrated as to why we are constrained to take all out action against Pak-sponsored terrorists.
The final act of the “˜Designer War is the quick “˜surgical operation, using both smart-soldiers and conventional soldiers to inflict ultimate unacceptable damage to force the adversary to capitulate. This act, may or may not be enacted if “˜Act-One and “˜Act-Two have already produced the desired results.
It would be apparent now that the Designer War aims at graduated escalation of conflict. Though each act of the module is aimed at virtual capitulation of the likely adversary, yet the real capitulation will come through second or third act. Thus, in all situations, the introductory act is a pre-requisite, where the main weapon is the world media and the battlefield is the living room of every home equipped with television.
But in most cases, either the second or the third act may be omitted. The omission or non-omission is subject to the non-availability of time to wage a protracted ‘Bleeding War’; degree of success achieved in the introductory act and finally the existing technological parity or disparity. If there was near parity in the technological quality of available weapon systems, then the third act definitely will not be enacted. In such a case, the Designer war may be kept limited only to the Bleeding war phase. If there was total disparity, the Bleeding War phase may only be partially enacted or totally omitted. Also, the success of the introductory act is directly related to the third condition of technological parity or disparity.
In the age of manifold lethality of nuclear weapons, the last thing the world wants to see is a world wide nuclear conflagration, where there will be no winners. All the same, the basic reasons behind NPT (Non-proliferation Treaty) or the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban-Treaty) is not to rid the world of such deadly arsenal of mass-destruction but to allow ‘Nuclear-Haves’ a clear monopoly and a basic edge in the Designer War of the future. Albeit unsaid, implicit in these treaties is a clumsy attempt to keep the world uni-polar and prevent it from becoming multi-polar.
The theorists of the Designer War in USA had clearly foreseen its implications in the mid-eighties and set upon to fool the world through NPT and START (Strategic Arms Reductions Talks). They insisted on Non-proliferation, but not on total destruction or total disarmament. In any case, in the world of today, to talk of total destruction and total disarmament of WMD is a misnomer. We must know that the knowledge and expertise to produce these weapons exists and will be safe-deposited. Therefore, what is the guarantee that they can not be assembled again even if total disarmament was carried out?
Whether the five nations of the Nuclear Club ““ accept or do not accept the nuclear- status of the new member, it is immaterial. The fact remains they would have a proportionate deterrence to discourage naked aggression.
All the same, in a way, the availability of nuclear weapons have made the wars of active and naked-aggression, as in the case of Hitler’s war, a totally redundant phenomenon. Come what may, nuclear weapons have come to stabilize outward peace in the world. Clandestinely and covertly, nation after nation, yearn for this capability to reduce the threat of naked aggression. If they do not, they will be subjected to a similar humiliation as did Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Whether the five nations of the Nuclear Club – accept or do not accept the nuclear- status of the new member, it is immaterial. The fact remains they would have a proportionate deterrence to discourage naked aggression.
Thus, as the ‘Nuclear-Haves-Club’ enlarges itself, ‘Active and direct wars’ will be replaced by ‘Bleeding Wars’, where there will be no monkey-dancing across the borders but a sole thrust will be on exploiting sensitive vulnerabilities deep inside the enemy territory. ‘Fronts’ and ‘Rears’ of the battlefield, as known to mankind, will soon disappear.
The condition of ‘ugly-peace’ or ‘ugly-stability’ brought about by proliferating nuclear weapons, will make ‘Bleeding War’ the only tool of Clausewitz’s concept of war as the other extension of political ambition of a nation. Bleeding War is going to be the order of the day in the first and second or even third decade of the twenty first century. Nations after nations are going to fall prey for it. Emphasis will shift to war by other means or WOM and Bleeding Wars will be the results. Internal vulnerabilities of nations will provide adequate spark for ignition by interested adversaries and become the battleground of this new war.
‘Nuclearised’ South Asia and Impact of WOM on India
Let us not see Mumbai–26/11 in isolation. It is closely linked to the war India has been fighting for the past 20 years, whether In Kashmir, Assam, Punjab, Northeast, or even Maharashtra, Andhra, Karnataka and Gujarat. The serial blasts in New Delhi, Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Kanpur, Jaipur and Guwahati in 2008, were glimpses of the war India fights unabated since the rehearsal of exercise “Zarb-e-Momin” (strike of the pure) by the Pakistan Army.
The aim of this war was to take the war into enemy territory to create a strategic depth for Pakistan. The actual rehearsal and exercise was the third part of the Designer War or WOM General Zia-Ul-Haque had envisioned. Its second part was to “bleed india through thousand cuts” and balkanize it. It is this part which was launched by Pakistan with the “azadi movement” in Kashmir and Punjab in 1989–90. In the mid nineties, it extended it to North East and Assam. It has now made in-roads in UP, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
In the north J&K threatens to become a painful brain-tumor for India. No cure seems to be in sight.
For a while, let us flash back to the years 1990–92 in India. Punjab was in flames; Assam was in turmoil; Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura were burning; J&K had begun to generate heat; Mumbai and Maharashtra were exploding under the weight of serial blasts; UP was being torn apart by communal riots and Tamil Nadu had begun to feel the tremors. Do not forget about the Naxlite movement in Andhra Pradesh. Now turn to the present times. In the year 2009, fires in Punjab have not yet been fully doused.
Assam continues to be rocked by ULFA and Bodo extremists. Do not discount ISI-backed Muslim militant organizations in Assam; Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura have not been cured of separatist fever. Add to it UPVA (United People’s Volunteer of Arunachal) and ULFA (United Liberation Volunteers of Arunachal Pradesh) movements in Arunachal Pradesh; MELTA (Meghalya Liberation Tigers) and MULA (Meghalya United Liberation Association) organizations of Meghalya and HPC (Hammer People’s Convention) rising aspirations in Mizoram, you get a rather gloomy picture of the entire North East.
Further west while, one finds the Gorkhaland issue waiting to erupt again, at the same time, West Bengal will soon have another headache from Malda and its surrounding areas where demand for a separate state is raising its head. Moving west of it, you find UP, Bihar, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand witnessing rampant growth of left wing extremists, equipped with sophisticated weapons.
The irony is, in India, people still do not realize that they have been at war for the last 18 to 20 years. It is because we have not yet grasped the nuances of WOM and the Bleeding War. The Indian mind-set continues to see war as monkey–dancing across the borders. We called the Kargil Conflict of 1999 as ‘war-like-situation’ and not war. We call Mumbai 26/11 as an act of terrorism. They came by sea with a well planned objective of paralyzing the financial capital of India, nay India. They held India to ransom for 60 hours. Pray, what was it, if not war.
India is in the thick of a bleeding war, aided and abetted both from inside and outside. Merely blaming the external virus will not help in the matter. What India needs to do is to apply the balm on internal wounds and at the same time immunize itself from the external virus.
Still, our definition of war is partaken from the model of the Bangladesh war of 1971. No wonder, while India has been bleeding form head to toe for the past one/two decades, we have been dismissing it as insurgency, terrorism, sponsored violence or even as ‘war-like-situation’. Some people are as naïve as to describe the situation in various states as law and order problems. While others, who are endowed with more clearvision, go to the extent of calling it a proxy-war. No one seems to accept, nay, not even Generals and Colonels that India has been involved in an active war, for the last 20 years. Perhaps, the nation awaits a clarion call from the ramparts of the Red Fort by the Prime Minister of India to formally tell the nation that it was at war. Such is the degree of thought-bankruptcy and mind-stagnation in India that we fail to clearly read the writing on the wall. .
Defense services and military analysts in India are primarily responsible for this mind-set of the people. They are the people who have been telling the nation that there was insurgency in Kashmir, a war-like-situation in Kargil, militancy in Assam and Punjab and law and order problems in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Matters are further complicated by the army, when it tells the nation that it should not be overly used for handling or tackling of militancy, terrorism and other so called law and order problems. And what is the reason? It feels that its prolonged deployment in internal security operations would hamper its preparations for their primary role. Pray, what is its primary role, if not to safeguard the sanctity and integrity of the nation? Do we think that the army is only there to watch the borders against external aggression?
This is where the basic flaw lies because the army too thinks modern war is all about a drama on the borders. This is the reason when most military-men shout at the top of their voice and vociferously plead to spare the army from such jobs as internal security (IS) duties and allow it to prepare for a future war. What future war are we thinking of if India loses the current war imposed on it? What good will be the army if there is no India tomorrow? In fact, deep maneuvering by the armies has not only been relegated to the last act of the war but sophistication in the weapon system, in terms of lethality, enhanced ranges and accuracy, has made it an insignificant act of war.
The concept of “˜unity in diversity of pluralistic nations like India serve as a testing laboratory for the exponents of the “˜Designer War to refine their doctrines.
Therefore, this much ado about nothing of the future war, fails to tickle the mind. It is this lop-sided thinking of the military minds which has disallowed the nation to understand the WOM and the Bleeding War it has been fighting. Consequently, we have looked at the internal situation in India in a compartmentalized and an isolated manner. Time has come when it must be viewed in a holistic and integrated manner to understand the intricacies of Bleeding War and WOM. The concept of ‘unity in diversity’ of pluralistic nations like India serve as a testing laboratory for the exponents of the ‘Designer War’ to refine their doctrines.
India will soon eclipse if it does not fight the Bleeding War with clear vision and proper understanding of this emerging military philosophy of war. National security is not only in terms of ensuring geographical integrity of borders from external dangers but it is also preserving the social stability, political unity and economical sanctity of its interests. And the modern war encompasses all these four fronts. This is what we need to understand. ‘War by Other Means’ or WOM does aim at disturbing social stability, political unity and economical sanctity.