Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | 19:13 WIB

Defense Sip at The Raisina dialogue 2024


As is customary each year, leaders from politics, business, media, and civil society gathered in New Delhi to deliberate on pressing global issues and explore avenues for cooperation.

Jakarta, IO – During the recent Raisina Dialogue, jointly organized by the Observer Research Foundation and the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, which stands as India’s premier conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics, significant focus was placed on addressing the most pressing global challenges.

Discussions centered on topics such as global defense mechanisms, the “grey zone,” New Wars, and global intelligence sharing. The overarching theme for this year’s dialogue, “CHATURANGA: Conflict, Contest, Cooperate, Create,” guided conversations across six thematic pillars: the technological frontier, peace with the planet, war and peace dynamics, decolonizing multilateralism, the post-2030 agenda, and defending democracy. 

Top of Form 

As is customary each year, leaders from politics, business, media, and civil society gathered in New Delhi to deliberate on pressing global issues and explore avenues for cooperation. The event facilitated inclusive, cross-sectoral dialogues, bringing together heads of state, cabinet ministers, local government officials, along with prominent figures from the private sector, media, and academia. 

One notable discussion featured India’s Chief of Defense Staff, General Anil Chauhan, Netherlands Minister for Defense Kaja Ollongren, Andrew Shearer, Director-General of National Intelligence in Australia, Sujan Chinoy, Director General of India’s Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, and Jeno Ben-Yehuda, former ambassador, and Executive VP of the Atlantic Council of the United States the focus was on exploring policies, practices, and preparations in the age of New Warfare Era. 

New Wars: Emerging Conflicts, Overview and Obstacles 

In traditional tactical teachings, it was commonly suggested that if an adversary had only four options available, they would inevitably choose a fifth option. However, in the context of contemporary warfare, adversaries now have a plethora of options beyond the fifth. This concept encapsulates the essence of “New Wars,” a term that rose to prominence in the 1990s to describe the evolving nature of conflict influenced by factors such as globalization, the proliferation of small arms, and the erosion of state authority. 

As we navigate the transition from conventional to modern warfare, it becomes imperative to delve into the complexities of this emerging era. New wars encompass a spectrum of definitions, including hybrid, asymmetrical, unconventional, and low-intensity conflicts, often characterized by prolonged durations with no clear resolution in sight. The increasingly intricate international security environment underscores the shift from traditional to unconventional methods and tactics. 

The contemporary landscape of warfare is marked by a diversification between traditional strategies and the advent of digitized weaponry, accompanied by round-the-clock cyber threats, supply chain disruptions, and the proliferation of semi-autonomous weapons, posing significant challenges for both state and nonstate actors. Events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the growing threat of groups like HUTI in the Red Sea region underscore the critical importance of national security. 

In this evolving paradigm, the lines between state and non-state actors are becoming increasingly blurred, giving rise to asymmetrical warfare and the growing influence of emerging technologies. This shift highlights the emergence of a new era of warfare, where the concept of the “grey zone” assumes significance. 

The term “grey zone” refers to the space between war and peace, where hostile actions and competition occur without necessarily escalating into full-scale armed conflict. This zone encompasses a wide range of activities, including political, economic, cyber, and informational tactics employed by both state and non-state actors to achieve strategic objectives while avoiding direct military confrontation. 

Addressing grey zone warfare requires a multifaceted approach, considering its potential roots in historical disputes. Strategies must encompass historical analysis, legal frameworks, and preparations for various contingencies to effectively navigate this complex terrain. 

Technological Advancements in Modern Warfare 

In recent conflicts such as those between Israel and Hamas or the Ukraine war, there’s a clear indication of the evolving nature of warfare, emphasizing the necessity to adapt to utilizing modern technologies. These technologies have become more accessible and affordable, transforming the battlefield into a hyper-modern environment where drones play pivotal roles in surveillance, reconnaissance, and combat missions. This shift signifies a significant departure from reliance on manned weapons. 

Moreover, technology plays a crucial role in democratizing capabilities previously unavailable to small non-state groups, companies, or individuals. It has led to a dramatic increase in the speed, scale, and impact of capabilities relevant to informal warfare and disinformation campaigns. Integration of emerging tools of informal warfare with traditional instruments of national statecraft and power, such as diplomacy, military strength, economic coercion, or foreign interference, underscores the strategic importance of technology. 

The growing utilization of cyber power and artificial intelligence (AI) further highlights the changing landscape of conflict. However, advancements in AI also raise concerns, such as the potential for misinformation dissemination impacting military decisions and the use of facial recognition for targeting individual commanders on the battlefield. 

Despite these challenges, there are positive aspects to consider, such as the natural language processing capabilities of AI. Nonetheless, there’s a pressing need for technological capabilities and partnerships to address these complex challenges effectively. 

Engagements With The Global World 

It is imperative for nations with shared interests to collaborate in addressing these challenges and establish effective mechanisms for international intelligence sharing. Non-state actors exploit divisions within countries to polarize societies through misinformation spread via social media. Transparency is crucial in combating this, as informed citizens are better equipped to discern facts. 

Considering the situation in Afghanistan, engaging with non-state actors/groups has become an unavoidable necessity. There is a pressing need for agile responses to non-traditional threats, necessitating adjustments to formalize approaches to informal threats. Given that these threats transcend multiple domains and impact not only military and intelligence agencies but also civilians involved in national security architecture, global multi-agency coordination is essential to anticipate emerging threats. 

Presently, these threats span various disciplines, extending beyond military concerns to include bio-threats and pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, caught countries like ours unprepared due to its unprecedented scale. Addressing such challenges requires innovative, adaptive, and inventive approaches from our machinery, fostering collaboration across governmental organs and beyond, from vaccine development to mass manufacturing and beyond. 

Read: Hitting The Glass Ceiling: Women And Politics In China

Concluding Reflections 

Our focus should be on enhancing our preparedness, encompassing a range of measures from bolstering military industrial production to fostering robust cooperation and coordination with partner countries. This includes sharing experiences on international platforms and leveraging India’s highly educated expertise to propel technological advancements. 

In today’s world, it is crucial for nations to collaborate closely. We aspire to a future that transcends mere reliance on drones, emphasizing the integration of AI and other new technologies to strengthen our military capabilities and enhance security. 

As our doctrine evolves to meet the demands of this changing world, there is a growing imperative for enhanced avenues of cooperation and dialogue. This underscores the importance of diplomacy in fostering connections and facilitating candid discussions both domestically and internationally. Building trust within our societies and institutions is paramount, as evidenced by the correlation between trust levels and resilience during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Achieving agility, interoperability, and scalability requires a reevaluation of acquisition strategies and concerted efforts to address underlying issues of trust. By fostering trust and swiftly deescalating conflicts, we can effectively respond to the challenges of the current moment, albeit with considerable effort.

Samrudhi Pande is a keen Defense Policy enthusiast.


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