As India celebrates the 19th anniversary of Vijay Diwas on 26th July – to mark our victory in Kargil war of 1999, there are much larger questions on Indian security, defence preparedness and military readiness that need to be answered. Couple of years back, in a workshop, a question that I asked to my audience was if a Kargil type situation happens how will we deal with it? By sending, many infantry units to defeat the enemy occupying our territory or we will blast them by firing standoff cruise missiles such as BrahMos? The question as well as answers, of course, were hypothetical. But then, as they say, we need to have hypothesis to design and develop key defence capabilities, as every new war/conflict is, well, new and different. What evolves is the “character” of war, as per Clausewitz. However, he maintains, the “nature” of war remains same. As we battle the current threats of more “nationalistic” and “De-Globalizing” world, we need to answer the Kargil question of how to minimize the “complete and total surprise.” Further, we need a new framework for designing our defence preparedness and Military readiness in the repolarizing world of today.
Clausewitz’s Nature and Character of Warfare in the Re-polarizing World
The Diplomatic, Informational, Military and Economic (DIME) spheres are witnessing unprecedented transformations simultaneously. We are in a new age of repolarization of the world. Entropy of such a repolarizing world has historically created conflicts that have led to major wars. Last decade of “Re-polarizing World” from the Unipolar world of 1990s and early 2000s is becoming more uncertain and unstable. New groupings of nations and regions may be emerging as we have seen. India as a nation is key vertex of re-polarizing world order as we have described in Quad Vs RIC scenarios.
This time though, under the extensive umbrella of weapons of mass destruction the ever-evolving character of war as defined by Clausewitz will take us to an unknowable future and potentially a multi-dimensional warfare with hitherto unexplored newer dimensions of warfare. These new dimensions of warfare have never been explored and exploited for purpose of war, because they just were not available – conceptually, militarily and technologically. The set of technologies that underlie this repolarizing world with its current entropy as well as their impact in transforming the character of war are coming together to potentially transform the nature of warfare as well, which the students and proponents of Clausewitz theories may find surprising. Nature and function (purpose) of war has remain predominantly constant – its nature has remained violent and an interaction of opposing wills excessively driven by politics.
The 15-Dimensional Warfare – The Multi-Dimensional Whole
We have identified 15 dimensions of warfare. On one side of spectrum the hi-tech future wars are going to be anywhere any-time wars. The fronts (battle, theatre and war) will vanish and will be replaced by whole five-dimensional expanses of our existence i.e., the space, air, land, sea surface and under water, and interestingly two man-made dimensions of WMD and Informational & Cyberwar. Besides these 7 dimensions – we are seeing the emergence of two peculiar dimensions of warfare – City/Urban warfare and Unmanned/Robotic/Remote-Soldier warfare. The 10th dimension, although it can be considered part of informational dimension, is the Electro-Magnetic (EM) Spectrum. The potential of EM Pulse to neutralize potential material and informational assets is one key driver for our selection. Missiles especially the cruise, hypersonic and of course ballistic missiles form the 11th dimension as today’s war can be fought using these to a substantial extent and most of the envisaged war scenarios will have a serious play of conventionally armed cruise and hypersonic missiles. The next 4 dimensions are Semi-Military warfare (asymmetric, hybrid warfare using insurgents of multiple hues and colors), Economic including Industrial and finally ecological/environmental.
This 15-dimensional war (the 15-D war) will have operations in each dimension and will have trans-dimensional impacts due to remarkable jointedness between the war making elements. The clarity of goals will make the necessity of elimination of enemy obsolete – perhaps that will alter the “nature” of Warfare. The attrition warfare of the yesteryears is replaced by the disruption warfare, where the intent is to control information, intelligence and lethality flow and create information edge. The other side of spectrum the conflicts of future are most likely to be conflicts which will be messy, irregular and revolving around the rise of highly networked non-state actors, whose principal targets may, in many cases, be states – specifically Urban/Cities.
We propose a framework for Defence Preparedness and Military Readiness for the repolarizing world where not only the character of warfare is evolving but the inherent nature of warfare may change – in an unprecedented way. The Framework requires us to assess our existing capabilities, preparedness and readiness for defence and offence in all the 15 dimensions. The assessment framework will lead to gaps identification and potential strategies to fill-up the gaps. Further, this framework can make our security and defence requirements and needs, visible for a repolarizing world of today (till 2030) and potentially repolarized world of future – say 2030 onwards.
The assessment framework asks us a simple question – What the relative capability of India is to defend, attack and operate in each of these 15 dimensions individually? The assessment results in potentially a picture such as shown in the figure below. The chart assigns a relative distribution of capabilities in each dimension. Of the total 100% capability of Indian defence currently what is the percentage available for each dimension. The numbers/percentages are assumed for illustration purposes, and in no way construed as actual assessment of Indian capabilities – current or future. The assumed percentages are also given below.
Once this assessment is available, one can position it with respect to current threats and potential threats to national interests to carve our responses in a comprehensive way in all dimensions or relevant dimensions. The off-setting strategy for specific capability/advantage of adversary in specific dimension can be developed and designed by creating capability in different dimension to offset the advantages. This game-play can be continuously used/evolved for real-time defence preparedness and military readiness.
Asymmetric Warfare to System Destruction Warfare – Strategic Switching in The 15-Dimensional Warfare
A graduated response evolution starting from the seeds of threats to the nations interest should be our algorithm. Unfortunately, India does not articulate national interests and hence we remain woefully reactive and world cast a continuous slur on India. We are being nibbled away by all and in all dimensions. Where should one stop the enemy? And when? And in which dimension? We need continuous answers to these questions in a repolarizing world with high entropy? It is about disruption, degradation, destruction and most importantly demolition of all those actions or potential actions that threaten our justified national interests. When you demolish, you systematically eliminate existing infrastructure with the intent of freeing the space to install something different and hopefully something better.
As mentioned in my previous articles the asymmetric warfare requires (a) rapid strategic switching (b) developing a matrix of instruments of warfare in multiple dimensions. Character of warfare has evolved and expanded from the hybrid/asymmetric to what Chinese call the Systems Warfare. A recent Rand report describes the Chinese thinking as Systems Confrontation and Systems Destruction Warfare. In the Systems destruction warfare, “Under this theory, warfare is no longer centered on the annihilation of enemy forces on the battlefield. Rather, it is won by the belligerent that can disrupt, paralyze, or destroy the operational capability of the enemy’s operational system. This can be achieved through kinetic and non- kinetic strikes against key points and nodes while simultaneously employing a more robust, capable, and adaptable operational system of its own”.
India might be learning new measures to tackle the asymmetric warfare with military and non-military measures as described and proposed in the recent article here. However, we need to understand the multi-dimensional warfare as a whole to be the new character of warfare. The piecemeal, reactive responses not only require rapid strategic switching and agility but also development and building multi-dimensional instruments of war and peace in these dimensions.
Key Message – The Framework Utilization for Defence Preparedness and Military Readiness
A graduated response evolution starting from the seeds of threats to the nations interest should be our algorithm. Unfortunately, India does not articulate national interests and hence we remain woefully reactive and world cast a continuous slur on India. We are being nibbled away by all and in all dimensions. Where should one stop the enemy? And when? And in which dimension? We need continuous answers to these questions in a repolarizing world with high entropy? It is about disruption, degradation, destruction and most importantly demolition of all those actions or potential actions that threaten our justified national interests. When you demolish, you systematically eliminate existing infrastructure with the intent of freeing the space to install something different and hopefully something better. Welcome to Multi-dimensional Systems Destruction Warfare in the repolarizing world.