Sometimes threats to national security can assume complicated forms. In such times, hybrid warfare can be pursued to achieve the desired result. Read on to know more about the significance of hybrid warfare…
For decades, in the Indian sub-continent nuclear weapons have deterred a major conflict between nuclear-armed states. This is because of the global revulsion against the use of nuclear weapons, and also due to the fact that nuclear warfare does not ensure offensive objectives. Hence, the latest global military conflicts are in the form of unconventional military operations through ‘hybrid warfare’. Defence experts have always called for development of more indigenous equipment of hybrid warfare in the country to build an edge against adversaries in the battlefield. Given the major advancements in the Information Technology field, India should bank on hybrid warfare techniques.
Quite often, in terms of conventional warfare — hybrid warfare may not be a war at all. This is because the objective of hybrid warfare may not be to secure an adversary’s immediate defeat, but to erode its morale, isolate the enemy from International countries, Other objectives are to deflect the enemy from pursuing unacceptable military or political objectives; disrupt its communications, command and control and/or important infrastructure, impose economic downfall to secure adherence to political demands, delegitimise an adversary’s government and compromise its leaders.
This hybrid form of warfare also known as asymmetrical, or non-conventional warfare, is a new generation warfare in which the whole of government takes the approach of ‘other means’ in the situation of gray zone conflict. The hybrid warfare is emerging as the preferred modality in today’s contests between the global super powers.
Weapon of Choice
Information Technology is progressively blurring the distinction between hybrid and conventional warfare and increasing the incentives and opportunities for the preemptive or ‘first-use’ of offensive action by adversaries to knock out an enemy’s command and control network through a cyber attack.
The digital weapons that can be used to wage ‘hybrid’ warfare is rapidly expanding and becoming more sophisticated. The weapon of choice for hybrid warfare includes autonomous cyber weapons such as advanced cyber programmes, social media, data mining, smart algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) with respect to information warfare. According to a report, by 2020, the penetration of ‘Internet of Things’ will connect 30 billion devices. Malicious hackers taking control of these massive global network of IoT devices connected to Internet can cause global chaos. Using Information Technology and cyber warfare to safeguard national security, can lead India to attain the status of ‘Technological Super Power’.
Cyber Propagation Medium
To ensure better interface between public and the armed forces, defence experts have emphasised the need to bring far more openness in defence matters to mobilise public opinion in the larger interest of national security.
In the information warfare, one of the key platform for propagation is the use of social media. In the current era — given the negative aspect of fake news, India should focus on the mitigation of fake news and ensure that it does not reach the common people in times of war or terror attacks. In today’s world, India should understand the power of IT, cyber, media projection and narrative construction, including ‘fake news’, subversion and sabotage, and sponsorship of terrorism, including ‘false-flag’ operations.
The Road Ahead
Indian agencies should be equipped with the most advanced surveillance and data collection techniques to detect hostile communication related to National Security and neutralise any cyber attack or ‘false-flag’ operations planned by enemy agencies. Additionally, India must possess the cyber capability to defend its crucial command-and-control systems and its Industrial and transport infrastructure against cyber attacks. But to deter such cyber attacks, India must also have the capability for offensive cyber attacks and counter attacks.