For over a year now, FORCE has occasionally spoken about future warfare which will be shaped by Artificial Intelligence driven technologies. Most of this conversation has happened on FORCE YouTube channel and somehow, we never did a cover story on the subject. February issue is a good time to do that. For three reasons.
One, despite the seeming calm on the Line of Actual Control and growing trade with China, the threat of war continues to loom. For all the claims to the contrary, China is not only in occupation of Indian territory, it is proceeding with building both military and civilian infrastructure very close to the Indian territory. A couple of weeks ago, one Indian teenager from Arunachal Pradesh was reportedly picked up the PLA soldiers and released a few days later only after the matter had escalated to the level of a minister who appealed to China to release the boy.
What’s more, China is constantly deploying new technology on the LAC, whether it is unmanned ground/aerial systems or semi-intelligent humanoid robots as tech demonstrators to India. Last year, it also successfully tested a hypersonic missile. Clearly, China is preparing for a war, which Indian military only understands notionally.
Two, several nations are working on the applications of AI-driven technologies in warfare; some of which are ready to be operationalised. Except for randomly throwing around terms like AI, cyber, sensors, data analytics, cloud computing, autonomy, genomics, blockchain and so on, Indian military still considers war to be a ground-based, human-led campaign, in which the valour of the Indian soldiers will determine the victory. Former, and now deceased, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat’s military reforms were based on this premise. In this recent press conference, chief of army staff Gen. M.M. Naravane told the media that the military is committed to Gen. Rawat’s vision.
Three, FORCE editor Pravin Sawhney’s forthcoming book which demystifies the concept of future war by tracing the steps by which China’s warfighting ability is progressing from autonomous weapons to intelligent weapons is now with the publishers. Called The Last War: India’s Final Showdown with China, the book not only exhorts the Indian military and the defence R&D to change their perspective, but also presents a roadmap by which academia and civil laboratories can be co-opted in a whole of nation approach to strengthen India’s national security.
Given these three reasons, the FORCE cover story looks at the immediate and the doable through a series of articles, in the hope that they provoke some serious discussion on the kind of modernisation Indian military needs.
Stay safe. Stay hopeful.