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Precision Technologies: Replacement to Conventional Weapons?

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In the dark arena of nuclear catastrophe, after the advent of nuclear related technologies emerged, the dynamics of Global security environment transformed into a Paradox of Power among the great powers. A series of power struggle became a notion between strategic competitors in the 20th century. US and Soviet Union neglected the idea of war after World War 2, when seeking the potential power of deterrence of Nuclear weapons. Since then, the world restrict itself from indulging in any nuclear war rather states became more inclined towards arms control and nonproliferation negotiations in order to avoid, conventional wars.

21st century, sets a hallmark for domination of technology in global strategic security environment. The impacts of major wars on the states provided a lesson to protect not only state itself along its nation from a nuclear winter. Advancements in the technology opens a gateway to a more precise and intelligent wars without much resources and escalation rather limited force to achieve desirable military outcomes. With such a vast spectrum of emerging technologies today, will they replace the nuclear deterrence? Or do these small yield precision technologies have potential to overtake the nuclear weapons? Or what can be the limit of its threshold for replacement?

Theoretical Framework:

Theories always provide a model or framework for analysis of any issue. While the idea of the paper revolves around the replacement of nuclear weapons by precision technologies. Numerous frameworks shall be applied depending upon the nature and dimension of the research query. As nuclear deterrence is a multidimensional concept that constitutes various approaches.  With concern to the topic, “Precision technologies: replacement to conventional weapons” meet one of the four paradox of nuclear strategy, that is ‘Stability/ Instability Paradox.

“Stability/ Instability Paradox states that by preventing total war or all out wars, the destructiveness of nuclear weapons seems to open the door to limited conflicts.”[1] “The inverse relationship between the probability of nuclear and conventional military conflict is known as the stability-instability paradox.”[2] Furthermore, the paper also analyzes some of principles of Sun Tzu, where paper reflects on the idea of policies of war making and limited resource allocation keeping in view the future expediencies. Where Sun Tzu states that, “Generally in war the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this, for to win a hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”[3]He further notes, “The magnitude of outcomes of its use makes industrial war, the focusing of state’s total power to the application of force against an adversary, a high-risk enterprise”.[4]

Prospects of Precision Technologies:

Tracing back when national security of a state was ensured by the possession of nuclear weapons or nuclear force, the debate over various technologies was a source of neglect by that time. Horizons of nuclear force discriminated the idea of precision technology by the fact of its deterrence and magnitude of its collateral damage. During mid 1980s the idea of such low yield technology came to limelight and speculations emerged on its usage and delivery means. Precision technologies eliminated the idea of collateral damage by use of sufficient force to achieve military targets. With accuracy and precision as a foundational characteristic, they became a major tool in conflicts.

Some of the precision technologies are as following:

Radar: one of the best detection tool used by force in order to target enemy force and co ordinate with the signals in mostly operatable in all mediums such as dark or fog or any obstruction. Radar provides accuracy for a weapon to be delivered at any target.

Space system: it provides the exact location of thee target by several surveillance and reconnaissance satellites or use of Global Positioning System (GPS). Thus, reduces the risk of probability.

Unmanned air vehicle: one of the most intelligent and precise tool which has the capability to carry weapons and aids in surveillance objectives too. The risk of putting a life of human on danger on the vehicle has been replaced by UAV’s.

Advent of Cruise and Ballistic missiles: primary function of missile is to target the enemy with exact precision, accuracy keeping in mind the missile range, trajectory, warhead, speed and payload that it carries.

Cyber-attacks: network centric weapon launched by using Internet Protocols of an identified target by the hacker. In such a process the risk of being captured by the enemy force is nil. Cyber espionage, hacking, cyberterrorism all are the tools for physical disruption.

Sun Tzu principle of subduing an enemy without fighting can be related to such skills in order to win a war over an enemy. Where fights are fought conventionally, it’s the technology who dictates how to win thousands battles without fighting.

It is far obvious how precision technologies can be employed by the forces to achieve objectives but with immense technological factor there are various assumptions too based on their delivery means, their potential capabilities, reliability, readiness and vulnerability. Precision technologies are said to be vulnerable if slightly miscalculation or mishandling of the weapon is done wile operating it. Slightly miscalculation can prove to have an entirely different outcome and risk of mission shall reveal. Secondly, striking the targeted location requires precision in intelligence, location, and timebound attack. Any delay or slightly carelessness will produce destructive results than nuclear arms.

Securing boundaries without conventional force can be challenging yet possible by having potential use of precision technology. Such as cyber-attacks, one of the major tool which is more destructive in nature than any nuclear weapon. The potential espionage and hacking for a state make it possible. Having a trained force for cyber-attack to enemy command and control system penetration shall give desirable political, military objectives.

More Intelligence/ less Magnitude: Counter value targets

Considering one of the major drawbacks regarding the magnitude of destructiveness by precision technology is that its limited focused area which it can turn down. Historically, at the time when nuclear weapons were used on Japan, the entire nation was slaughtered by a single bomb. Now considering the range, magnitude and level of destruction that was being made by a single firebomb cannot be achieved by Precision technologies. There is no denial regarding their accuracy, intelligence and precision but when it come to target counter value location, precision technology cannot replace nuclear weapon. Thus, Nuclear weapon ensures collateral damage. But on the other hand, targeting counter value targets are morally and legally restricted. So, precision technology cannot fully but partially over come this restraint.

Conclusion:

The stability/instability paradox comes in existence while debating over an argument of countervalue and counter force targets. While theorists are of the view that nuclear weapons in any region exists in parity to the strategic security environment of that particular region keeping in view the strategic relations of nuclear weapon states and their neighbors. The prospects of threat perception are seen if it fulfilled by possession of nuclear arsenals or Precision Technology. If we look at South Asian region two nuclear states, who are in constant struggle in acquiring more and more nuclear arsenals to enhance their threshold, do have hands on precision technologies but they rely more on nuclear threshold rather than high precision weapons for deterrence purposes.

Secondly, the fancy technology can only be possessed by core states. Core states have the potential to design, operate and function such high technology prone devices because of availability of resources both skill and trained workers along with knowledge. And over such technology there is always a monopoly over the transfer of knowledge. So, such periphery states grip on nuclear deterrence for a security dilemma.

Power of technology today, paves alternatives for the core states to have an upper hand in the International Politics.


[1] Bhumitra Chakma, The Politics of Nuclear Weapon in South Asia (Burlington: Asghate Publishing Company, 2011).

[2] S. Paul Kapur, “Stability Instability Paradox”, in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Period (Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publication, Inc.,2017),2.

[3] Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Samuel B. Griffith translation (Oxford University Press, 1963).

[4] Rupert Smith, The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World, (New York: Random House/Vintage Books, 2012).

Parkha Durrani, a researcher, currently in the 8 th semester of BS in Strategic & Nuclear Studies from National Defence University, Islamabad. I have written and published articles on Militarization of Space, Cyber Security and Trade War. My interest includes Cyber security, Foreign Policy of India, Strategic Culture of US and Security analysis of South Asia.

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Defense

India’s Sprouting Counterforce Posture

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In recent years, the technological advancements by India in the domain of counterforce military capabilities have increased the vulnerability of the South Asian region. While trying to disturb the strategic stability in South Asia, India through its adventuresome counterforce posture against Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a rogue state. Notwithstanding the repercussions, India is voyaging towards destabilization in the South Asian Region.

India’s enhanced strategic nuclear capabilities which includes-the development of Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMD), Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles, and acquisition of nuclear-capable submarines- indicate that India is moving away from its declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) towards a more aggressive, counterforce posture against Pakistan. The BMD and MIRV technology along with the provision of an advanced navigation system under BECA would embolden India to go for the first strike against Pakistan. While having reliance on BMD, as to be sheltered in return. These technological advancements made by India are sprouting a new era of counterforce posture, which would further make the South Asian region volatile and vulnerable to conflicts.

India’s urge to acquire counterforce capability is strongly associated with its doctrinal shift. As the stated posture requires flexibility in the use of nuclear weapons, which fortifies the first strike capability, and thus a deviation in India’s declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) has become more significant, particularly concerning its impact on regional stability. India’s declared policy of NFU, set out in Draft Nuclear Doctrine in 1999, followed by its first amendment in January 2003 has since then been into hot debates. Pakistan has long doubted the Indian policy of NFU, as the actions and statements by the officials of the latter have always been aggressive and protruding towards the former. India, now, is drifting away from its policy of NFU with the acquisition of counterforce capabilities, particularly against Pakistan. This is further evident from the statement issued by India’s Defense Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh, back in August 2019. It stated “Till today, our nuclear policy is ‘no-first-use’ (NFU). What happens in the future depends on the circumstances.” A change at the doctrinal level is evident in the Indian strategic enclave. Notwithstanding the challenges and repercussions caused by the counterforce strategy and with an attempt to destabilize the nuclear deterrence in the region, India would go unjustifiably low to attain such measures.  

In the same vein, India has been enhancing its nuclear capabilities for strategic flexibility against its regional rivals. By the same token, it wants to attain nuclear dominance, which would ultimately result in chaos in the region. The counterforce capability by India would compel its adversaries to heed towards the preemptive strike, in case of a crisis, out of the fear of the use of Nuclear weapons first by the patent enemy.  Moreover, the counterforce capability pushes the enemy to put the nuclear weapons on hair-trigger mode, which is directly linked with the crisis escalation.  The acquisition of counterforce capability by India would likely provoke a new arms race in the region. This would further destabilize the already volatile South Asian region. The far-reaching destabilization which India is trying to create, just to have an edge on the nuclear adversary, would be back on India’s face, faster than she knew it.

On the contrary, Pakistan has been maintaining a posture of Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) and does not claim to have a No-First Use (NFU) policy. Moreover, Pakistan’s nuclear capability is defensive in principle and a tool for deterrence. Given the Indian evolved notions of counterforce preemption, even now Pakistan would be left with no choice but to leave room for carrying out a ‘first strike’ as a feasible deterrent against India. Nevertheless, with the advent of technological innovations, its countermeasure arrives soon, too. Presently, there are two aspects that Pakistan should take into consideration; the growing Indo-US nexus and India’s concealed innovations in the nuclear posture. Though India is far from achieving counterforce strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear targets, concrete steps are required for maintaining future deterrence stability. With that intention, Pakistan might need to look towards its allies for getting hands-on the modern capabilities which includes- advanced communication and navigation systems, sensors, and advancements in artificial intelligence and otherwise, is essential for strengthening its deterrent capability. Pakistan should heed towards the development of absolute second-strike capability; as, what is survivable today, could be vulnerable tomorrow. Therefore, advancements in technology should be made for preserving nuclear deterrence in the future as well.

Summarizing it all, the existence of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence has created a stable environment in the region, by deterring full-scale wars on multiple occasions that might have resulted in a nuclear exchange. With the revolution in nuclear technology, the threat of nuclear war has emerged again. Instead of going towards the attainment of peace and stability in the region, India has been enhancing its counterforce capabilities. This would likely remain a significant threat to the deterrence stability in the region. Moreover, any kind of failure to maintain nuclear deterrence in South Asia could result in an all-out war, without any escalation control. India, in its lust for power and hegemonic designs, has been destabilizing the region. Both the nuclear states in South Asia need to engage in arms restraint and escalation control measures. This seems to be a concrete and more plausible way out; else the new era of destabilization could be more disastrous.  

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Defense

A pig in a poke of Lithuanian Armed Forces

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The proverb “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” perfectly reflects the situation in the Lithuanian armed forces. It is it unclear how the army will carry out its tasks, if everything that happens there runs counter to common sense.

The conscription took place in Lithuania. The recruits once again were revealed by an electronic lottery on January 7, 2021. 3,828 recruits were selected from the list of 38 thousand conscripts aged 18 to 23.

The idea of using electronic lottery in such a serious procedure arises a lot of questions among Lithuanians. Young people are suspicious of this method and fully admit the possibility of corruption. Nobody could check the results and so nobody could be blamed for random selection. The more so, the armed forces could get weaker recruits than in case of using usual ways of choosing among candidates. So, the army buys a pig in a poke.

This approach to recruitment in Lithuania results in presence of those with criminal intents and inclinations. Сases of crimes committed by Lithuanian military personnel have increased. Incidents with the involvement of military regularly occurred in Lithuania in 2020.

Thus, a soldier of the Lithuanian army was detained in Jurbarkas in October. He was driving under the influence of alcohol. A Lithuanian soldier suspected of drunk driving was detained also in Siauliai in December. Panevėžys County Chief Police Commissariat was looking for a soldier who deserted from the Lithuanian Armed Forces and so forth.

Such behaviour poses serious risks to public safety and leads to loss of confidence in the Lithuanian army in society.

Lithuanian military officials have chosen a new way to discourage young people from serving in the army, which is already not popular.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The ministry of defence decided to run a photo contest that would reflect service in the country’s armed forces. It is doubtful that such pictures will attract to the army, but the real situation is provided.

Usually, popularization is the act of making something attractive to the general public. This contest served the opposite goal. Look at the pictures and make conclusions.

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Defense

Fatah-1: A New Security and Technological Development About Pakistan’s Indigenous GMLRS

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Islamabad: It seems like 2021 has been a good start for Pakistan specifically with regard to stepping up its missile testing. On the 7th of January, the Pakistan military has successfully conducted a purely indigenously developed missile test flight known to be Fatah-1. As stated by various reports, Fatah-1 is an extended-range Guided Multi-Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) which itself is a developed variant of the guided MLRS family.

According to the recent statement given by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) about the newly developed rocket, it was stated: “The weapon system will give Pakistan Army capability of a precision target deep in the enemy territory.” Director-General of Pakistan Army, Media Wing, major general Babar Iftikhar on 7th January tweeted: “Pakistan today conducted a successful; test flight of indigenously developed Fatah-1, Guided Multi Launch Rocket System, capable of delivering a conventional Warhead up to a range of 140 km.”

Defense analyst Mr. Syed Muhammad Ali also stated in his capacity: “the new system was very fast, accurate, survivable, and difficult to intercept”. A video was also shared by ISPR on their official website, in which the missile launch can be seen while being fired from the launcher however, the details on when and where the test flight has taken place, along with the specification of the rocket system are yet to be announced.

Currently, Pakistan Army owns a wide range of Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM), Battlefield Ballistic Missiles (BBM), Rocket Artillery, and Surface to Surface Cruise Missile (SSCM). In the previous year, Pakistan had also maintained prime success in conducting the Ra’ad-II cruise missile and Ghaznavi surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSBM). Besides, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on 30thDecember made apt progress when it comes to the national air defense arsenal as it was announced that PAF is beginning the production of the State-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder Block 3 fighter jets, at the same time acquiring the 14 dual-seat Jf-17 aircraft.

According to various reports, the JF-17 Thunder Block 3 will be said to have a new radar operational capability which will be far better in the practical domain as compared to the Raphael aircraft acquired by India. Whereas, the exchange of 14 dual-seat aircraft, manufactured with Pak-China cooperation were also given to the PAF which will be used for extensive training.

The recent successful testing of Fatah-1 has been considered to be another milestone for Pakistan as it tends to be a fitting response to the recent developments in the conventional capabilities carried out by India and also to India’s Cold Start Doctrine.

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