Future forms & format of warfare
THE ancient Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu wrote in his book, The Art of War “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
This book was written and published in 5th Century B.C however application of its contents is being made by world’s advanced militaries in their military strategies. Starting from remote 1st Generation warfare, there have been evolutionary and revolutionary changes in the forms and format of warfare.
Indeed, world’s advanced military are making application of 7th and 8th generation warfare where the rival military powers are convinced that their military efforts will all be in vain, rather in your disadvantage.
Indeed, this is what Sun Tzu outlined for a professional military and military commander in the Art of War.
The series of these format and forms of warfare; starting from 4th Generation warfare are meant for achieving this advanced level; winning without fighting.
In the 4th generation warfare (4GW), there was “blurring of the lines between war and politics” while undoing the distinction between civilians and the combatants in the process of war and conflict. Indeed, it was decentralization of warfare with a wider combat zone.
This form of warfare added a new dimension; the indirect format of fighting the war in the traditional military confrontations in the form of; espionage, international politics, media manipulation, and trade wars. The 5th generation warfare (5GW) added non-kinetic military action into the traditional pattern of warfare.
The elements of non-kinetic warfare include; social engineering, misinformation, cyber-attacks, along with usage of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. The less debated 6th generation warfare (6GW) is very discrete and more damaging.
In this impending warfare, the advanced military will make use their “data-processing and C31 systems, smart weaponry, EW and air defence assets, and space-based reconnaissance and weaponry”. While using these means, the advanced militaries of the world will be able to inflict political and military defeat to their enemies discreetly at low cost.
The 7th generation warfare (7GW) will be absolutely automated warfare; causing a shut- down the commercial and military communications systems of the enemy. Besides, by making use of electronic warfare, the power grid and water utilities will be controlled.
In a way, the rival will be totally paralyzed including disabling their economy and banking system. After this nothing will be left with the rival states to fight with those powers having this technological edge.
The 8th generation warfare (8GW) is yet a step forward from 7th generation warfare. In this format of warfare no one will die on either side of the opposing forces. In this format, the superior militaries will have the capabilities to temporarily incapacitate the rival militaries and their masses.
The broad concept includes; the superior military will move into enemy’s areas after zapping their troops. In the subsequent phase, the advanced military will disarm the enemy and destroy their weapons-making capabilities.
While the 7th and 8th generation warfare are still not in practice, the armies of world’s advanced countries are fully practicing the 5th and 6th generation warfare.
The contemporary situation in Pakistan depicts that, the country is under the strong grip of 5th Generation Warfare (5GW).
There has been sudden rise of such elements, which have challenged the very stability of the state internally and enhanced its vulnerability externally through a number of undesired acts.
Indeed, a number of non-state actors wage war against Pakistan out of sheer frustration and deprivation. Indeed, deprivations and frustrations are always exploited by the interest groups and vested power centres.
Frustrated and deprived classes need dedicated support to exhibit their anxieties and further them to next phase. Therefore, there are always political and ideological reasons behind these, unlike the western perceptions of 5GW.
In the light of above-mentioned debate, Pakistan is facing a direct brunt of 5GW through a number of actions, internal as well as external.
In Pakistan, the deprived and frustrated groups have existed ever since the creation of Pakistan.
The first exploitation of these classes by external power centres appeared in the form of unrest in former East Pakistan which ultimately resulted into disintegration of Pakistan in 1971 with Bangladesh becoming a new state.
In the last two decades, the armed forces of Pakistan have fought a long war against various terrorists and militant groups and those promoted sub-nationalism with a greater degree of success. In the process of combating the militancy and terrorism from Pakistan, the resilient masses of Pakistan fully backed their military.
The unbelievable rate of success against terrorism, achieved by Pakistani military has placed this outfit unparalleled among the global military outfits on one hand but attracted their wrath on the other as future target of rival power centres.
Through their professionalism and dedication, armed forces of Pakistan achieved what other military outfits of the world would not have dreamt.
Through a combination various forms and format of contemporary warfare as mentioned above, the rival regional and international forces have geared up their strategies to further destabilize Pakistan internally.
The domestic fault-lines of the country are the major target areas for these forces to cause maximum damage to Pakistan from three aspects; socially, politically and economically. Over the years, there have been no worthwhile efforts by the ruling elites to address the grievances of deprived communities and classes in various parts of Pakistan.
Resultantly, the gulf is enlarging in the absence of needed strategies to bridge them. There is a rise of ethnicity, provincialism, sectarian disharmony and political intolerance in the society of Pakistan. All these vulnerabilities provide ideal targets for exploitation by the external rival forces.
Besides, the economy of Pakistan is rapidly deteriorating with each passing day. The question arises how serious we are to face the challenges posed by new forms and formats of the emerging warfare.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.