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Disruptive Warfare Technologies (27 August 2020)

Disruptive Warfare Technologies (27 August 2020)

Why in News:

While highlighting the impact of disruptive technologies, the Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane stated that the current modernization drive was focused on upgrading existing weapon systems and platforms.

Background:

The Indian Army is conducting a study on advanced niche and disruptive warfare technologies to strengthen its soldiers’ war-fighting capabilities.

The move comes amidst border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh.

He was speaking at a two-day seminar on the “Impact of Disruptive Technologies on Our Fighting Philosophy in Future Conflicts” as part of the Defence and Strategy Seminar 2020 at Army War College, Mhow.

The seminar was the first virtual initiative of its kind at such a large scale where disruptive technologies like Robotics, Big Data Analytics, Cyber, and Small Satellite, 5G/6G, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality (AR / VR), Quantum Computing and cyber warfare were discussed. The virtual event was streamed across 54 locations with 82 outstations.

Disruptive Technologies:

Warfare has undergone a sea change due to the emergence of new domains of warfare and disruptive technologies. Disruptive technologies and new domains of warfare are forcing the militaries across the globe to re-structure, and reorganize in an effort to fight future wars.

Challenges:

  • Allowing the disruptive technology in areas where it can make a tremendous amount of difference is a biggest challenge.
  • One has to really look at it that, are you in a position to give the operating system totally into the hands of a machine, where a machine will take a decision to kill a human being.
  • Allowing machine over man is like losing some sort of human control over the battle, because ultimately the boots on ground will matter.
  • There is a discussion happening of banning of hypersonic technologies and various other technologies also.

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Way Forward:

  • There is a lot of induction of new technology, but what is required to change is an attitudinal mindset to accept the change.
  • This technology needs to be adapted more and more by the decision makers who bring in this change, they accept the change.
  • A large amount of military training can be taken on by different parts of the country training in different aspects can be brought together, Live Force on Force scenario can be built using this particular technology.
  • Technology is not an answer on every individual issue or every individual challenge, technology is just a force multiplier. So, under those circumstances one should avoid getting into the zone of a technology replacing a human being totally. Because, there are a lot of amount of issues which are associated with it, it itself has got lot of disadvantages too.
  • Technology should not emerge as a force but, it should emerge as a force multiplier.
  • India really need greater artificial intelligence used in surveillance on the western front and on the northern front

Important points made by the Guests

Ajay Banerjee, Defence Correspondent, The Tribune 

  • What the Indian Army Chief has said is a manner of saying that now is time to change, the change had to come now or never at the moment, because the way technology is progressing, the way things are changing, it is better we change.
  • The chief has spoken about the need for drone swarm robotics, laser loitering munitions to artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data analysis and algorithmic warfare.
  • A loitering munition is a thing which is some of the countries possesses including India, but we need it more.  Drone swarm needed more because we have a kind of contested airspace on Western front and Northern front. We will need robotics because every where you cannot have a man posted out there. Artificial intelligence should be needed because how to read the enemy’s mind, so it will include mind space reading also that is what the enemy is thinking. AI will bring into a new dynamic to it.
  • Now the things have changed rapidly as we are seeing now on the front in Ladakh also, a lot of drones and new technologies are being used by both sides not just us, not by China, but both sides are using new technologies.
  • The Air Force has taken some kind of lead but the Army probably needs to change much more now and the Chief is with the right step.
  • Forces have to change especially the land forces have to change their mindset of increasing the numbers, by increasing the numbers does not help in today’s world because China has actually reduced the numbers in the past 10 years, USA has right-sized themselves, Japanese are also inducting the latest of technologies.
  • China reduce its forces and put a lot of money into technology and that includes research and development, including of new equipment, drones, they are trying to match the USA.
  • India need specialists to run the technology, this is the change we need to bring it, we need boots on the ground that goes without saying but the technology part has to be like going into the boots on the ground.
  • The quicker we do it the better, because India is behind by at least a decade to China, because China started this process in 2011 and then Xi Jinping came to power in 2013 and their restructuring was done and they right-sized the forces and they reduced the numbers by around 200,000.

Lt Gen (Dr) VK Saxena (Retd), Distinguished Fellow, VIF

  • The basic point in defence disruptive technology has to be differentiated between civil and armed forces.
  • In the civilian circle, disruptive technology is a technology whose application changes the way a particular pattern of operation was being done, it may change a pattern of operation, it may change the competitor, it may drive out the incumbents, it may produce a low cost and good item, etc.
  • But in the armed forces, disruptive technology is something which can bring a change, which is akin to the change brought about by revolution in military affairs. What is revolution in military affairs is said to have happened, when the military tactics, doctrines and strategies change so profoundly that it changes the very nature the warfare is conducted.
  • Now the blaring example of this in the army was the advent of the unmanned systems, where as and when the unmanned systems have entered the space, the battlefield has never been the same, they initially came in as look see weapon; looking beyond the hill, then they came as intelligence surveillance target acquisition and reconnaissance vehicle, then they became a compatized vehicle carrying munitions, which can give a run for their money to combat platform, they fought shoulder to shoulder with combat platforms. Now they are coming in swarm drone, in which they have mind of their own, they have intelligence of their own and they can continue to operate the mission from beginning to end. This is a type of technology.

GP Capt Ajey Lele (Retd.), Senior Fellow, IDSA  

  • In the era of First World War, we had observational balloons, which were being used for gathering intelligence. Now, what sort of disruption which has happened over the years, the same type of intelligence now has been picked up by satellites that mean balloons have been disrupted by a technology which is a satellite technology.
  • We are talking today artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, Internet of things, blockchain and all that, these are all not technologies per se on their own domain, these are some sort of application technologies.
  • Since, drone technology has become a very successful technology, hence definitely; not only Indian Air Force any sort of Air Force all over the world will always have some sort of advantage as far as induction of disruptive technologies are concerned, rest of the services will have to look at where they can juxtapose the technologies like Artificial Intelligence, big data, cloud computing, internet of things, etc.
  • We are in era of Industry 4.0, this is linking of physical world to digital world to a biological world now. So, under these circumstances armed forces need to understand and appreciate that the technologies are not going to come only into the realm of war fighting zones, military infrastructure is a huge gigantic infrastructure where logistical requirements are there, there are medical requirements which are there so on and so forth.
  • So, the disruption is going to come in every aspect, where the technology is being used in the armed forces. So, under these circumstances a time will come where you will have to change your military or war fighting doctrines too.
  • Network centric warfare has been a reality for now for almost last two decades and armed forces are ensuring that their doctrines get tuned to what sort of network centricity is appearing.

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