India: In The Middle of ‘Grey Zone Warfare’!

"Grey Zone warfare involves undermining democracies or crippling economy without a shot being fired. Moreover, then, if one did want to drive in one day with an Armoured Brigade, there is not much left in the way."


India: In The Middle of ‘Grey Zone Warfare’!

“Britain is being targeted every day by adversaries using cyber-tools, disinformation, corruption and organised crime to divide us. to weaken us or to compete with us" Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary, UK, as quoted by Fiona Hamilton in an article in The Times (UK), on 11 January 2021.

Grey Zone warfare involves undermining democracies or crippling economy without a shot being fired. Moreover, then, if one did want to drive in one day with an Armoured Brigade, there is not much left in the way.

Democracies, developed and underdeveloped. Whether UK or India, are easy targets for 'internal conflicts' because of exploitation of internal vulnerabilities, such as social, political, regional, religious and economical by outside forces.

Furthermore, in the age of 'No Contact' wars, enforced by Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), it is becoming more and more important to defeat and destroy one’s enemy without indulging into the use of physical force. It is 'war without a war' in the 'grey zone'. Welcome to the age of 'invisible approach' to war in the 21st Century!

Furthermore, in the age of  'No Contact' wars, enforced by WMD, it is becoming more and more important to defeat and destroy one’s enemy without indulging into the use of physical force. It is 'war without a war' in the 'grey zone'. Welcome to the age of 'invisible approach' to war in the 21st Century!
Characteristics of Grey-zone warfare; Infographic

'Grey Zone warfare' aims to destroy one’s enemy from within, by creating explosive situations through communal riots, organised violence, antigovernmental agitations, spreading disinformation and sparking sub-nationalism. Primarily, it exploits the inner vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the adversary. It is also called War by Other Means (WOM) or Alternative forms of war (AFW).

With the advent of nuclear weapons and other WMDs, it became increasingly difficult to fight directly one’s military equals. 'Mutual Assured Destruction' or MAD led to the advent of 'Alternative Mechanism'.

Thus, Proxy Wars, Sponsored Violence and Insurgencies became the mode of achieving political objectives against adversaries. It was yet another mode of 'Indirect Approach of Contact warfare'. It has finally culminated into 'No Contact Wars'. 'No Contact' essentially is the motherboard of 'Grey Zone Warfare'.

"21st Century has heralded the age of 'Brain Force wars', where the combination of cyber-tools, misinformation and invisible weapons play a lead role."
Aspects of Gray-Zone warfare; Infographic

'Grey Zone' is further slipping into 'Invisible mode', this has happened because of the advent of drones, Missiles, laser-guided weapons, Swarm weapon systems, Electromagnetic Pulses (EMP), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Nanotechnology, A-Sat Killers. These 'Standoff weapons' have added new dimensions to 'No Contact wars'.

Thus, slowly but steadily, the curtain is drawing on the era of ‘Brute Force wars’ of physical contact, whether directly or indirectly. 21st Century has heralded the age of 'Brain Force wars', where the combination of cyber-tools, misinformation and invisible weapons play a lead role.

In short, it pushes into oblivion the strategy of the massive use of force to subdue one’s enemy. It disallows armies monkey-dancing across land borders. The underlying principle of the emerging form of modern war is to subdue the enemy without firing a shot.

Centuries ago, a Chinese philosopher, Sun Tzu, had propounded the theory of 'Alternative forms of war'. He is stated to have said, 'To win a hundred victories in a hundred battles is no acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of Skill', this is also the theme of a Chinese book, 'Unrestricted Warfare', published in 1999, by two Chinese colonels, Qiao Liang and wang Xiangsui.

Therefore, China is the primary practitioner of this art of 'winning without fighting'. Some analysts claim that Coronavirus was part of Chinese conduct of 'Invisible war' without physical force.

“To win a hundred victories in a hundred battles is no acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of Skill”  -Sun Tzu in 'Art of War'-

In The Times (UK), Fiona Hamilton’s article quotes General Nick Carter, Chief of Defence Staff of Britain, to say that such a clandestine activity by the hostile states could ‘light a fuse’ were misunderstood. He warns the UK to watch such activities by hostile states. He had Russia and China in mind while accusing them of such clandestine operations against Britain.

Tensions between Britain and Russia had taken an uncompromising turn in 2018 when Britain had blamed Russia for an attempted assassination of a double agent, Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent.

Some years back there was a cyberattack on the National Health Services of the UK, which had incapacitated the system. Russia has developed a cyber malware to do this. Then, in July 2020, Britain blamed Russia of using cyber hackers to hack into Britain’s Vaccine research. Britain also accused China of trying to steal Intellectual property and target technology and infrastructure.

The movements like 'Black Lives Matter' (BLM) in the USA is symptomatic of how adversaries can exploit such movements. It is no doubts that BLM was a genuine movement and it had begun to checkmate racial hatred of the Blacks by White Policemen. However, it slowly passed into the hands of those who had other motives.

"The movements like 'Black Lives Matter' in the USA is symptomatic of how adversaries can exploit such movements."
Man walks in front of a Black Lives Matter flag (IG: @clay.banks)
Man walks in front of a black lives matter flag.(I.G.-@clay.banks)

Similarly, Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in India were primarily based on deliberate misinformation, on the plea that citizenship of Muslims would be annulled. The facts were deliberately twisted to project the diabolical consequences of this act; which led to violent protests at 'Shaheen Bagh' entrance to Delhi. It also led to heinous violence in Delhi riots in February 2020.  

The purpose of the riots was to drive a wedge between Hindu and Muslims.
Now farmers protest against Three Farm Laws of Government of India and have some glimpses of how to destroy or checkmate adversaries from within.

Some apprehensions of farmers might be genuine, but their insistence to repeal the law was not understood. Incidentally, IMF has welcomed the three farm laws. Its financial advisor is Geeta Gopinath Dhaliwal, an associate of Noble prize winners, Amritya Sen and Abhijeet Banerjee, who have no love lost with the Narendara Modi Government!

"The purpose of the riots was to drive a wedge between Hindu and Muslims. Now farmers protest against Three Farm Laws of Government of India and have some glimpses of how to destroy or checkmate adversaries from within."
A still from the nationwide anti-CAA protests; File Photo

Protests in London and Canada show that there was a foreign intervention. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, had no business to make a statement favouring farmers unless there was an ulterior motive.

Rumours are there that Chinese money was playing a big hand in the continuation of these protests. Chanakya, the ancient Indian expert of statecraft, had propounded that a state faces four kinds of threats to its existence.

They are; namely, threats emanating from outside and aided cum abetted from outside; threat emanated from inside and aided cum abetted from outside. The third danger is the one which starts from outside but abetted from inside. Finally, the worst danger is the one, which emanates from inside but was aided and abetted from outside.

A small issue is blown out of proportions. A genuine disappointment of the segment of a population is enlarged by foreign abetment. The purpose of foreign interference is to stiffen the stand of the agitator and prevent a compromise. The primary objective is to create a confrontation between ‘the state’ and ‘the protesters’. Foreign money and resources flow in the country.


The free-flowing “five star” arrangements for farmers blockade around Delhi in January 2021 could be the envy of any “Five Star hotel”. A storm gathers, and the governing system is targeted to collapse. The government and highest judicial institutes are defied. It leads to anarchy and chaotic situation. The uncompromising attitude is to put the administration into a dilemma: whether to act with force or not.

A small issue is blown out of proportions. A genuine disappointment of the segment of a population is enlarged by foreign abetment.

In a democracy, to act or not to act with force, is both ways an invitation to “defeat” unprecedented. When the storm has fully gathered, to tread with caution is the only way to deal with the situation. The best way is to take preventive actions before the situation could develop beyond control. In the Golden Temple, Army action under Operation Blue Star led to the situation getting out of control.

It took a decade to normalise the situation, and the Prime Minister, Indra Gandhi had to sacrifice her life. The same mistake was made in J& K in 1989-90. It is rightly said that a stitch in time saves nine.

Foreign forces keep looking for such vulnerable situations, time for India to prepare herself for “Grey Zone warfare “to protect itself and give the same medicine to her adversaries, who have continuously been creating such volatile situations that threaten the integrity and unity India.

The dirty tricks departments of China, Pakistan and even Canada are busy creating disharmony and divisions in India on religious, regional. Political and economical lines. The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and Canadian Sikhs are supporting organisations, such as the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), whose sole purpose is to revive Militancy in Punjab. India must activate its own version of dirty tricks and put Xinjiang of China; Sindh - Balochistan of Pakistan and Quebec, as well as, British Columbia of Canada on fire.

(Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in  ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as  ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: rajee749@yahoo.com)

(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')

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