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Disruption in military affairs

At the root, multi-domain warfare is autocratic in nature and suit China and Pakistan. The challenge for democracies like India is to develop a multi-domain warfare model which can disrupt the Sino-Pak tide.




Three months back I was approached to speak at the Army War College, Mhow, during a doctrine and strategy seminar on multi-domain operations. During the seminar, many things happened. I co-related the topic with the current international military and strategic events. I realised that the actual scope was wider since the concept is evolving. I eventually spoke up on ‘Disruption in Military Affairs’ at the seminar. There was a lot of resonance. I outlined the issue in my last article, “Dealing with Dragon effectively”. Thereafter I discussed this concept with some real military intellectuals. They found it interesting. Hence I am attempting to give shape to the concept of “Disruption in Military Affairs”. That is the future and we might as well start seriously thinking about it.

Military affairs have been continually disrupted ever since the Cold War ended. Many of us barely realised it. Reflect. Ideology redefined the way wars were fought. It democratised, humanised and diversified the battlefield. Technology has always impacted and reformed warfare since times immemorial. However, disruptive technologies are driving battles to be fought through new domains in innovative ways. The old order of revolution in military affairs is passe. Ideology and technology have provided tremendous bandwidths to why, where and how battles are fought. They disrupt military affairs completely and take them into the arena of multi-domain warfare when synthesised. This article examines “Disruption in Military Affairs” and dilates on the “Multi-Domain Warfare” faced by India in the SinoPak context with Iran as an outlier example.

Ideological disruption

Ideology as casus belli for wars exists since the Crusades and Holy wars. Nothing new. Nazi ideology disrupted the world in the 1940s. In the post-WW2 era two competing ideologies — capitalism and communism — fought the Cold War with each other. Once the Cold War ended, conflicts revolved around race, ethnicity, religion and political ideologies. These conflicts were for one ideology against another or its anti-thesis, but fought conventionally.

The disruption started with LTTE using terror, assassination and suicide bombing combined with their propaganda. From thence, ideological disruption of military affairs progressed geometrically. Groups like Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, LeT and JeM started fighting through ideology rather for it. Their approaches constantly refined disruption. They radicalised and weaponised constituents of their groups and the target population. The distinction between friend or foe and the protected or the targeted vanished. They aligned with state power for support and growth. In turn, they were harnessed and cultivated by radicalised, weak, and failing states which used them asymmetrically against stronger states. Pakistan in particular used ‘radicalised’, ‘Islamist’, ‘jihadi’, ‘terror’ groups in their ideologically-driven proxy wars. They used the concept first in Afghanistan against the Soviets. They refined against India to attempt annexation of Kashmir. Pakistan is now the international exporter of this ‘low cost, high effect’ concept.

Simultaneously, the Chinese were propagating their modified ideology silently under the wraps. This newly minted communism was blended with hard capitalism. The main tool of this cash rich communist ideology was the supremacy of political authoritarianism. The second tool of this ideology was economic weaponisation — intertwine economies, create dependencies and destroy target economies. The third tool set of this ideology is now commonly known as three warfare strategy — influence, legal and information operations. It undermines institutions, especially in democracies by operation at a psycho-physiological level. The fourth tool of this ideology was to build an opaque information firewall between itself and the outside world. Packaged and practised as a whole this new communist ideology has disrupted the battle field in a very significant way. It undermines the target and weakens it to the point of defeat by acquiescence.

Technological disruption

Technology has disrupted warfare as it developed. It is easy to understand since most of us have experienced it in conventional domains — Air, Land and Sea. As technologies advanced and became disruptive, they separated into independent domains due to the wide spread nature of their cause and effect. Many technologies started underpinning other domains. These technologies could be used to propagate hard or soft power. Dualuse technologies could affect a wide range of securities at national levels to include economic, energy, resource, environmental and data security. Warfare and competition have transgressed into these domains beyond traditional domains of military security.

Multi-domain warfare

 When the ideological and technical disruptions are driven into existing domains a model of “Multi-Domain Warfare” emerges. To reiterate, Clausewitz said: “War is politics by other means” and conversely “politics is war by other means”. Mao’s view was that “politics is war without bloodshed” and “war is politics with bloodshed”. Both these put together encapsulate the Multi-Domain Warfare spectrum. It can be defined as conventional and/or non-conventional war carried out by state, non-state or state sponsored actors using hard and soft power during war, conflict or peace situations by day or night for specified national outcomes in various interacting and overlapping domains. These multiple domains are represented in the graphic below. This concept is an understandable version of ‘unrestricted’ warfare propounded by the Chinese.

The Iran model

The domain to fight from varies with each country and its capabilities. Let us consider the case of Iran for ease of understanding. It is operating in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. It is under heavy sanctions, it does not have an Air Force, any space or nuclear capability of note. Yet the Aramco attacks were hugely successful, low cost and disruptive. Iran has exploited conventional domains through surface to surface missiles, surface to air missiles, armed UAVs, cruise missiles, limpet mines, antiarmour claymore type mines and irregular forces in a calibrated manner. Their ‘Quds Force’ is a combination of ideology, CIA and Special Forces. It allows them to operate from political, ideological, influence and information domains to achieve strategic outcomes through tactical actions. Iran has militarised Shiaism and stitched an overseas Shia-based alliance of militias and regulars. Iran has developed decent cyber-warfare capabilities. Overall, it banks heavily on ideology, has its own brand of technology and conducts warfare through its politics and economy besides conventional domains. Notwithstanding many severe limitation, It is feared by Sunnis, respected by the US and keeps Israel on its toes. Iran has conducted warfare through multiple domains seamlessly. Iran’s model of Multi-Domain Warfare looks something like this.

The Chinese model

China wages 360-degree full spectrum Multi-Domain Warfare seamlessly. It is a constant game of GO to attain advantage and corner opponents. Disruption of conventional Air, Land and Sea domains is through indirect and insidious moves (Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh). China is investing heavily in disruptive technologies. Space is an enterprise activity to attain energy and high technology dominance. Cyberspace and Electromagnetic Spectrum are offensive domains on their own right. However, they enable disruption through social media, surveillance, data collection and by intelligence collection. These two key domains underpin Chinese disruption through other domains. The nuclear domain also encompasses geopolitics of denial and proliferation (Pakistan, North Korea and Iran). Chinese ‘Three war’ strategies enable manipulating public opinion, provide legal justification, and exert Influence through pre-set narratives. These are dark power domains of ideological disruption. They exploit fissures of democratic societies, convey political intent and prepare ground for other domains to succeed. They build Chinese invincibility and ensure compliance/subjugation to Chinese ideology. Economy, diplomacy, politics & ideology, and energy & resources are traditional domains. However disruption comes through threats, coercion, subversion, weaponising commercial dependency, economic intertwining and ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomacy. China has weaponised health through the Wuhan virus and mask diplomacy also.

 The Pakistani model

 The Pakistani model is unique. It has two schismatic entities — the Army and the nation. One does not know which entity is being dealt with. Whenever the nation is unstable, the Army is stable and vice versa. This ensures its survivability despite being constantly bankrupt and at war with itself. The Army perpetually bankrupts the nation while enriching itself. It is in a constant state of internal disruption. Hence using disruption in military affairs comes naturally to it. It has blended ideology with technology to conclusively disrupt military affairs. Its model of Multi-Domain Warfare is dominated by high levels of state-sponsored terrorism using radicalised islamist political ideology, nuclear sabre rattling and exploiting cyberspace. It uses political, diplomatic, public opinion, legal and influence domains in a focused anti-India manner to enhance disruption. It will posture in conventional domains but avoids fighting there. It outsources conventional tasks to the highest bidder. However its own tasks are outsourced to jihadi non-state radicals. The jihadis are then enabled with latest technologies and training. Economy, energy and resource domains are its black holes. Hence it needs a constant benefactor. It is, however, most untrustworthy. Earlier benefactors — Uncle Sam and Saudi Sheikhs — are learning it the hard way. Uncle Xi is the new benefactor whose pocket is under tap. Alignment with Turkey balances China through the Uighur factor. It is not without reason that Pakistan has the most professional Army never to have won a war but is termed as the most dangerous force on earth.

The syncretic disruption

Ever since Pakistan midwifed Richard Nixon’s visit to China in the 1970s, there has been a deep bond between China and Pakistan. With time, political and ideological accommodation between the two has strengthened. Both these revisionist countries have syncretised their ideologies when dealing with India. They overlook each other’s rough edges. Each of them individually have synthesised their respective ideologies with suitable technologies. In effect they present us a wide range of challenges to which we are forced to respond. In the foreseeable circumstances as Pakistan becomes more indebted to China, this issue will compound and magnify. What India is to face hereafter is not mere collusion but a syncretised version of SinoPak Multi-Domain Warfare with an expanding spectrum of disruptive capability.

Indian response

A rising India will have to think beyond the conventional domains. It is up against the most dangerous force and the most ambitious force in a fractured battlefield. Our conventional mindset will not work. Not because of lack of capability. We have not been able to use our formidable capabilities in conventional, space and nuclear domains. These have not deterred our nuclear adversaries from doing what they want to. At the same time we do not have to simply ape what the Chinese or Pakistanis are doing. Hence we need to develop our own model consistent with our politics, culture and capabilities. Most importantly, we need to put structures in place to enable conduct of Multi-Domain Warfare. Disruption has to be beyond traditional military structures. At the root, Multi-Domain Warfare and disruption are autocratic in nature. They suit countries like China and Pakistan. The challenge for amorphous democracies like India is to develop a Multi-Domain Warfare model which can disrupt the Sino-Pakistani tide. It can be done. It needs a whole of government approach.

 Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on his blog www.gunnersshot.com.

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Major push to Make in India in defence sector

Ajay Jandyal



To give a major push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atamanirbhar Bharat mission, the Indian Army has joined hands with various technology firms to cater to the demands of the present security scenario.

The Army says if it has to remain operational all around, it cannot rely on obsolete technology hence latest advancement in the sector have to be adopted.

“The Northern Command is always combat ready in the times to come, the challenges will continue to increase so we have to rely on advance technology and keep on innovating,” Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi told The Daily Guardian on the sidelines of the Northern Technology Symposium held in Udhampur on Sunday.

North Tech Symposium was organized under the aegis of HQ Northern Command at Udhampur. Technology symposium, exhibition was organised wherein 162 companies from Indian defence industry including MSMEs, DRDO, DPSU, participated and exhibited their products.

In addition, 42 innovative solutions by Army establishments towards enhancement of combat potential of the Army were also on display. Lt Gen BS Raju, Vice Chief of Army Staff inaugurated the first of its kind technology symposium in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing the event, vice-chief of Army staff Lt Gen V S Raju said that he would have appreciated if the investors, capital ventures would have also shown interest in the event to boost the new start-up.

“To cope up with the ever-evolving and ever-changing security scenario, we also need to adopt changes and keep on innovating. I am happy that so many companies have shown interest to showcase their products at the North Tech Symposium. I am hopeful that in near future, many of the products would be put in use by the armed forces,” General Raju said.

In the wake of recent incidence of drone dropping in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab from across the Indo-Pak border, various companies have displayed their products including anti- drone system, drone jammer which can strengthen the forces and border guarding forces to thwart Pakistan’s plan of disturbing peace.

Other than drone dropping threats, detection of tunnels on Jammu and Kashmir border is also a major threat for the security forces these days as 11 tunnels have been detected on Indian-Pakistan border in the past few years. There was number of companies which showcased their products to detect underground tunnels by using artificial intelligence and special radar.

The symposium saw active participation from of senior officers from different forces including IDS, Army HQ, HQ ARTRAC, other Commands, HQ Northern Command, and its subordinate formations. This interactive platform for knowledge diffusion through Joint Army-Industry participation was an important step in the direction of the government’s initiative of “Make in India”.

On the first day of the seminar, the participants from Army and industry discussed the policy and procedures for expeditious procurement, Raksha Atmanirbharta initiatives by Indian Army, DRDO and Defence Public Sector Undertakings, how can private sector contribute towards surveillance system, weapon sights, drones and counter drone system and miscellaneous technologies like 3D printing.

The symposium served to showcase cutting edge technologies and innovative products providing solutions to some of the complex challenges faced by the security forces in Northern Command and also acted as an ideal platform for mutual exchange of ideas between the domestic defence industry and the Army. The technologies and products on display covered a wide canvas, the prominent ones being surveillance and situational awareness, tactical mobility, firepower, force protection, communications, combat medical facility, robotics and simulators.

The symposium was a huge success and Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, AVSM lauded the initiative and innovations of all the vendors. The General Officer expressed his conviction that the plethora of technologies available indigenously can further boost the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” project of the nation. The spirit of Atmanirbharta demands that research and development, the domestic defence industry and Army have work in a synchronized manner to realise the nation’s vision.

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An Indian Army Major lost his life after slipping into a ravine during a counter-infiltration operation in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.

Major Raghunath Ahlawat.

Late Major Raghunath Ahlawat, 34 was leading his team on a counter-infiltration operation based on reliable intelligence input. “To identify a safe approach for the team he led from the front while carrying out reconnaissance on a route through a steep cliff. “Unfortunately, he slipped due to bad weather and slippery conditions and fell 60 meters into a ravine. Critically injured, he succumbed to his injuries enroute while being evacuated to the nearest Army Hospital,” Indian Army officials said in a statement.

The Army paid tribute to the officer in a ceremony held in the Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar led by Chinar Corps Commander Lieutenant General DP Pandey.

Major Ahlawat was commissioned into the Army in 2012 and hails from Dwarka, New Delhi and is survived by his wife and his parents.

The mortal remains of Late Maj Raghunath Ahlawat were taken for last rites to his native place, where he would be laid to rest with full military honours.

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For over USD 20 billion tender for manufacturing 114 multi-role fighter aircraft (MRFA) the Indian Air Force (IAF) would prefer to take the ‘Buy Global Make in India’ route over the strategic partnership policy model to produce the planes within the country.

‘Buy Global Make in India’ is a category of procurement process provided in the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 under Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to smoothen the acquisition of foreign weapon systems and their production within the country under the ‘Make in India’ in the defence programme. Along with the indigenous LCA Tejas and the 5th Generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft project, the 114 MRFA project would also be required by the IAF to maintain an edge over both the Northern and Western adversaries. We would prefer to go in for the Buy Global Make in India route which is preferred by the vendors also who are expected to take part in the programme, government sources said. Three American aircraft including the F-18, F-15 and F-21 (modified version of the F-16), Russian Mig-35 and Su-35 along with the French Rafale, Swedish Saab Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft are expected to participate in the programme. The Indian Air Force had also sought the views of these companies on the acquisition procedure that they would like to opt for in the programme and most of them have shown a preference for the Buy Global Make in India route only, they said.

The sources said that the force has also sought directions from the government on the project.

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Amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, defence supplies from Moscow are continuing as the Indian defence forces have received a shipment of overhauled aircraft engines and spares. However, there is concern about whether this would continue in the near future as a solution for making payment to Russia has not yet been found.

“The defence forces have received shipments from the Russians very recently and it is still on. So far, there has not been any glitch in supplies for our forces,” a government source told ANI.

“However, there are concerns on whether these supplies can continue in the same manner as the Indian side cannot make payments to these Russian firms in view of the sanctions related to their banks,” he added.

The sources said the Indian and Russian sides are working to find a way this issue can be overcome and many options are being explored.

The latest supplies from Russia included overhauled fighter aircraft engines and spares for an aircraft fleet and they arrived through the sea route, the sources said.

India also received the final parts of the S-400 Triumf air defence system from Russia whose first squadron is operational with its elements deployed to take care of threats from both Pakistan and China.

India is one of the largest users of Russian weaponry including major platforms like fighter jets, transport aircraft, helicopters, warships, tanks, infantry combat vehicles and submarines.

Over the last couple of decades, it has broadened its source base by including equipment from countries like the US, France and Israel in a big way but the dependence on Russia still remains very high.

The Air Force is dependent majorly on the Russian supplies as its mainstay Su30 aircraft fleet is Russian along with its Mi-17 helicopter fleet.

The Army is also dependent on the Russian-origin T-90 and T-72 tank fleet for the armoured regiments.

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The top brass of the Indian Army and Air Force would be assessing the preparedness of their forces and infrastructure requirements along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as the militaries of both India and China continue to remain in a standoff position in eastern Ladakh.

The Indian Air Force brass would be meeting this week from 6 April to discuss the security situation including air operations along the northern borders. The Indian Army commanders led by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane would be assessing the present deployments along eastern Ladakh and the northeastern sectors from 18 April onwards in the bi-annual commanders’ conference.

The top brass of the Indian Army had jointly discussed the infrastructure requirements and developments required by the Indian side from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh during a conference in Lucknow recently.

India has made several changes in its deployments post aggression shown by Chinese troops in April-May 2020.

India and China have been talking to each other at both military and diplomatic levels to address the issues but so far they have not been able to do so mainly because of Chinese reluctance. In recent talks to address the Patrolling Point 15 friction, they proposed a solution that was not acceptable to the Indian side.

Indian security establishment led by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has been of the view that the issue would be resolved only if the Chinese completely disengaged and went back to pre April 2020 positions.The Indian side has strengthened its deployments manifold all along the LAC. The Indian Air Force has also started building advanced bases in the forward areas including infrastructure to operate fighter jets and attack helicopters from the forward fields such as Nyoma.

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Sharp fall in infiltration of foreign terrorists, stone pelting: CRPF DG



There has been a sharp decline in the infiltration of foreign terrorists as well as in stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 from the erstwhile state, Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldiep Singh said on Thursday.

However, noting the targeted killings in Jammu and Kashmir, the officer said, “Some time there is a spurt in terrorist incidents” and the recent killing in “periodic series” are among those, and “it occurs”. Replying to queries during a press briefing here at the CRPF Headquarters, Singh said, “CRPF immediately try to control terrorist incidents in Jammu and Kashmir soon after it gets inputs. These incidents are not totally controlled by internal terrorist people who are there. On many occasions, it is controlled by those sitting across the border and it is directed whom to be targeted or not.”

The CRPF DG reiterated that “some directions comes from foreign lands too”, and thus, “terrorist incidents some times increase and sometimes decrease” “It does not mean that things are out of hand…You can see that the incidents of stone-pelting are almost nil. There has been a sharp decline in the number of infiltration of foreign terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir. Sometimes, there is a spurt in terrorist incidents but it happens,” he said.

The officer informed that the CRPF has neutralized 175 terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and apprehended 183 from March 1, 2021, to March 16, 2022.

Meanwhile, the CRPF has recovered 253 arms from Jammu and Kashmir and seized 7,541 ammunition as well as 96.38 kg explosives, 23 Improvised Explosive Device (IED), 232 grenades, and 36 detonators from the Union Territory, Singh said. Further, he informed that as many as 91 encounters have taken place from March 1, 2021, to March 16 this year. CRPF is the premier Central Armed Police Force (CRPF) entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the internal security of the country. It is deployed across the length and breadth of the country, assisting various state police in the discharge of their duties. CRPF is providing security cover to 117 protectees of various categories, he said adding that 32 women personnel have been inducted into the VIP Security Wing.

A total of 41 VIPs were provided security cover by the CRPF during recently concluded Assembly elections in five states, the DG said adding that the security of 27 protectees has been withdrawn post-elections. The CRPF chief also said that under financial assistance from the risk fund, ex-gratia for personnel martyred in action has been increased to Rs 30 lakhs from Rs 20 lakhs, and for all other cases, the ex-gratia has been increased to Rs 20 lakhs from Rs 15 lakhs.

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