DailyPost 1736

Unmanned warfare as it is called is the phase of technological warfare, where there is a man, brain, technology and tools behind the attack but only the tools get known at the very best. It can also be termed as a variant of asymmetric warfare. With technology being the driver, it was just a matter of time and that it entered the arena of conventional warfare. While it enters the arena of conventional warfare, it maintains all the characteristics of camouflage the technology provides. It is not open to physical loss. That is the reason why it is turning out to be the favoured system of warfare. The interesting part is that it is not limited to nation to nation war but has all the permutations and combinations of a changed scenario one can imagine.

The variety of players can be mind boggling; non-state actors, the intelligence agencies, terrorist groups, hackers, naxalites and the list goes on and on. Whosoever or whichever organization has the tools can declare a surreptitious war against the state. The aggressor knows and the state being trampled may just not be aware of the aggression. It can be an insider at war with this organization and his own country. Edward Snowden is an ideal example. Cyber warfare in its variants have slowly made entry into the Defence forces leadership psyche of the world; the ones who change are better placed. It’s not be the military might which will matter, what will really matter is the expertise with Cyber technology and that is where the difference lies. It cannot be picked up in a day. Though the tech happens with the click of a button, the expertise takes years and decades to be learnt, practiced and made cutting edge. It can neither be bought.

The multiplicity of targets adds to the complexity of planning and so does the exponential increase in threat vectors. The drone attack used to drop bombs on the IAF Station in Jammu, first of its kind in India heralds the entry of a new technology enemy in the skies. This brings in air space security challenges of a different kind. The intensity and impact of the current attack are inconsequential, what is game changing is that we are in the midst of a deadly tool in the hands of the enemy. The anti-drone systems are yet to be perfected. The variety of drones with a large number of technical issues to be tackled makes it pertinent to have a full fledged anti-drone strategy and start working on it. This is a strategy of technological and human resource investment,  which we cannot do without.

The drone attacks in the vicinity of Baghdad International Airport killing Soleimani, second most powerful person in Iran in Jan 2020 and the drone attack on state owned Saudi Aramco oil processing facility at Abqaiq in Sept 2019 presumably by Houthi movement in Yemen throws open the difficult times ahead of us. The precision of the drones in the right hands, adds another level to its competitive edge in technology tools game battle. The tech/tool which delivers the best results with least damage to the aggressor is the best weapon of war. Given the inherent nature of drones, we are heading towards an era of Drone Wars, and in conjunction with cyber-attacks, the damages can be heart rending.


Sanjay Sahay

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