Technology , both disruptive and growth oriented, has opened up new horizons for the mankind to conquer. Destruction and construction both go simultaneously along side each. Technology, thus, not only proposes to create new frontiers but it disposes them too. Humanity, it seems, is at the cusp of another 'Big Bang'.
Future wars are going to be not only technology driven but they will be 'Non Contact ' wars, fought by 'Smart Soldiers' with 'Smart weapons' of BVR (Beyond Visual Range ) nature. Drones , Missiles , EMP & LASER guns, as well as Bio - weapons are changing the whole concept of war- making . There is a paradigm shift from physical force of humans to ruthless force of mind.
'Swarm' technology, with deadly lethality, extensive ranges and computerised accuracy, would go for an all out kill of 'Concentrated forces'. Nano - Technology will produce weapons of the kind of 'Bumblebees'- very, very difficult to detect but with a potential of massive destruction.
Therefore, dud weapons / equipment systems such as Manned Aircrafts, Tanks, guns and Infantry, would lose their relevance in future wars. They will be sitting ducks. AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Cyber warfare would be the force multipliers of future belligerents.
Also, note that there would be no more MONKEY DANCING of soldiers across the borders. Armour and Infantry, hitherto known as ‘King and Queen’ of battle would lose their relevance. White collared soldiers, sitting thousand of miles away from the battle zone would rule the roost.
Infantry would only supplement Internal security force and may be in a static role on the borders. However , Radars and UG sensors , supported by BVR weapons systems, can perform this role better. Your 'eyes in the sky' would further deprive Infantry & Armour, this privilege of being sentinels of the border. There would be NO more urgency to rush additional forces as happened in the case of Chinese offensive in Eastern Ladakh during the year 2020.
Borders would be made difficult to ingress by adversaries. Wars will, thus, be designed to soften up one’s adversary by BVR systems before delivering final blow as a surgical strike.
Finally, Land Wars will be replaced by wars in the 'space and seas'. I call it a scenario of ' Contaminated Ocean and Weaponised Space ' (COWS). Territorial gains would no more be considered a political purpose of war. It would be total annihilation of one’s adversary.
Indian think tanks have to gear up towards this new concept of Designer Wars in the emerging scene of COWS. The flab must be cut down and concentrate on LAMA (Lean and Mean Armed Forces) to engage enemy in a 'Non- Contact dual' , where BVR or smart weapon system would play an important role.
The COWS scenario demands that Army, Air Force and Navy would have to not only restructure themselves but achieve a true synthesis and integration. Compartmentalised existence has to go in favour of a single entity. In the COWS scenario, Land wars would turn inward to deal more with 'Internal Enemy'. AirForce would have to restructure itself to A2 / ASD (Anti Access/ Area cum Space Denial ) Force and Navy would have to lay stress up on 'Sea Denial' than 'Sea Domination'.
While wars and military conflicts are reshaping themselves, so is the concept of mankind’s progress in different domains. Man’s forays into space is gaining momentum - of course driven by cutting - edge and a new technology. Time is not far, when wars may extend into outer space. Latest mission to Mars, by NASA, has added new dimension to human reach beyond the earth.
With mission to Mars, the race for 'colonisation and weaponisation of the space' has begun. This might become a new cause of human conflict. It would be new version of 'Lebensraum'.
And looking some 50-75 years beyond the present times, into the 23rd Century, I find, exciting new prospects for humanity—if it does not destroy itself by the use of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) such as virus like Covid-19 or even ‘ANTI-MATTER’—10 grams are adequate to obliterate life from the earth’s surface .
Above text explains that there was a big difference in 'Tomorrow' and 'Day after Tomorrow'.
How do we define 'future'? Is it continuation of 'Today' or 'making a clean break with Today'?
'Tomorrow' can not be 'Future' because it was continuation of 'Today'.
When I talk of 'Future War', it is to make a clean break with what was happening 'Today' or 'Yesterday'.
Most of our 'Air Warriors' and their supporters are stuck up with 'Today' and 'Yesterday' and they do not want to go beyond 'Gulf Wars', 'Afghanistan' and 'Iraq' or even 'Ukraine'. The lessons from these wars are starkly clear with a message 'War Climate' was sharply and continuously changing.
Emergence of Tanks at the battle of Siene, in 1914, First world war, changed the scenario and then, 'Fixed warfare 'led to' Mobile warfare' in the second world war. Air power had played a major role in the WWII. It continued till the first decade of 21st Century. But it can not rule the skies in the wake of new developments, as explained in the end.
Nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 changed the very concept of military confrontation and concept of 'Cold War' followed. Cuban missile crisis of Oct 1962 had scared the whole world.
War in Afghanistan has brought Drones and Missiles to change the whole concept of war-making. 'Hybrid warfare' or LOW INTENSITY CONFLICTS became the game changers.
BVR systems have further affected direct confrontations. And now BIO - WEAPONS are turning the old concepts upset down!
BVR and Bio- weapons, Lasers/ EMP systems along with AI and Cyber warfare are now showing new directions - where BRUTE FORCE application was replaced by BRAIN FORCE. War is going to be in an invisible mode where hard assets would be sitting ducks. No more manned aircrafts will rule the skies or tanks would zoom across borders. Look into the future and not at your face in the mirror today—the face is changing with every passing day. This is the point one must understand.
I would end up this interesting and illuminating discussion from my side after going through various arguments by air warriors and their supporters by quoting Ravindra Nath Tagore, who had said : FACTS ARE MANY BUT TRUTH IS ONE.
Laced with self - superiority of the past and irrelevant facts , air warriors are trying to ignore the TRUTH OF 21ST CENTURY WAR - MAKING.
I enjoyed the debate and earnestly contributed my views ,perceptions and vision of the concept of war - yesterday, today and tomorrow in the world and its implications and lessons for Indian Armed Forces.
(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: [email protected])
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')