Although the Chinese notion on the emergence of China as a global power is quite liberal in perspective, as they believe in a peaceful rise and assuring no intentions of replacing US hegemony, however, the mere motive for the acquisition of power highlights the internal political beliefs. According to which, China obviously recognizes the anarchic state of nature of the world politics and that is why the state cannot trust any other state to the fullest, meaning that China is willing to take strong actions against any state that tries to threaten its sovereignty or other national interests. Power maximization under the core classical realists’ concept of offensive realism provides a logical theoretical framework to best describe China’s national motives and actions, however, Mearsheimer failed to provide argumentative support to the long-standing concept of power maximization under the economic sense. It is believed that China can provide an alternative and improvised theoretical framework on the concept of power maximization in the economic sense, as they believe that economy is a crucial contributing factor to a state’s actual power. The Chinese consensus in the last two decades is quite similar to the theories of Alfred Thayer Mahan, with a special focus on sea and economy. According to Mahan, the strength of a nation’s navy is the key to a strong foreign policy and economic achievements. These two concepts collectively makeup a theoretical framework for China’s power struggles during the recent decades.
With the course of time, a state’s national interests can change and so can the execution of its national policy. China in the recent decades have withered and recovered from the ‘Hundred years of humiliation’, in a constant struggle to revive its lost status of a great power. The reason why China has managed to strengthen its economy and improvise its political structure is because China has learnt from its past mistakes, dicey decisions, structural problems, long-standing political (and cultural) beliefs and ultimate failures. By deeply analysing the courses of actions, the state managed to uproot its biggest failures, mistakes and structural blunders, and yet continues to improve its national and foreign policy. United States of America on the other hand, ever since the Obama Administration’s indication of a shift to Asia, has been on a close watch for China’s surveillance. His predecessor, George W. Bush, was all about the ‘War on Terror’ and paid zero to none attention in the overall foreign policy of the United States of America. This paper examines the decades-long Chinese modernization, structural reforms and the current role of PLA in the national security of China and reveals answers to questions; what is the progressive international political hype for China all about? What are the assumed and announced PLA objectives? Why there was need for modernization? And how does China plan to be a world class force by 2049? As China has always remained opaque in terms of courses of action, so there’s a whole lot of ambiguity in the matter as well, however, the research of this paper thoroughly examines the areas under tension and provides a rough outlined sketch to best understand mysterious nature of Chinese orthodoxy.
Chinese National Security
National security, alongside state sovereignty, is a sub-component of the state’s grand strategy. A grand strategy incorporates tools of power such as economy, diplomacy, military and natural resources, in the formulation of the overall, core objective of the state. Every nation strives for power, making power acquisition and dominance, the core components of their grand strategy. China’s national security strategy can be derived from the three core national objectives of the state; sovereignty, modernity and stability. The aim of a state’s national security is to secure its national objectives, using necessary means and ends.
According to the Meriam Webster’s dictionary, sovereignty is defined as the supreme power of the state over itself and the freedom from external control. China has been claiming that it has never fought a war of aggression ever since its independence in 1949. The period spanning from the mid-19th century and the mid-20th century, from 1840’s ‘opium war’ to the war against Japan dating from 1937-1945, is characterized by China as the ‘hundred years of humiliation’. Therefore, after independence, the state swore off wars of aggression and urged for structural and doctrinal reforms. All the major conflicts and Chinese interventions (Chinese intervention in Korea-1950, War against India-1962, Sino-Soviet skirmishes in the late 1960’s and the infamous Vietnam War-1979) after 1949 are claimed to be responses to bulging threats to the state sovereignty.
Modernity implies a steady compliance with advancements of the technology, strategic environment and addressing outdated structural and institutional issues. In the closing decades of the 20th century, there was s strong emphasis on strengthening the economy and beyond the tangible, cultural, social and political reforms. The aim of modernity has shifted from ‘strengthening the economy’ to ‘strengthening the military’ during the last 3 decades. For example, in the late 90’s China was not willing to participate in joint military exercises and in the recent years the state has ironically sent PLA troops to various joint military exercises in order to compensate the deficit of its combat capabilities, since the state has not entered a war for a very long time.
Lastly, by stability, it does not mean a mere territorial stability but the internal and international- environmental stability is also a major concern of the People’s Republic of China. In 1998, Jiang Zemin at the 15th Party Congress said “. . . it is of the utmost importance to correctly handle the relations between reformand development on one hand and stability on the other so as to maintain a stablepolitical and social environment. Without stability, nothing can be achieved”.
All three of the above-mentioned objectives make up the entire national and foreign policy of the state, including the national security strategy as well. The objectives of a state’s national interests can predict its overall political and military policy through the courses of action highlighted by the developmental strategy of their military doctrine.
PLA’s Evolutional Journey
Preceding the actual evolution of People’s Liberation Army, China has made massive blunders and evaluated its failures very closely. After its foundation in the late 1920’s the guerrilla (mobileoperational-style) warfare, used by the state in the mountains of Jing gag, proved to be a significant warfare tactic required for state’s survival. Following the war in the 1920’s, the war against Japan in the 1930’s and 40’s made the state to fall on its knees. All was not lost, as the Chinese troops and citizens, collectively paid their homage and best wishes to the soldiers (and their families) who embraced martyrdom. This sacrificial spirit and emphasis on the guerrilla warfare, led to the Mao’s concept of ‘people’s war’ that advocated a ‘a sea’ of soldiers in order to defeat the enemy’s forces. However, things were not expected to worsen when the Chinese military decided to enter a war against Vietnam in 1979. An estimated 100,000 Vietnamese troops trolled the ‘twice-their-size’ 200,000 Chinese troops and that pushed China to ponder on the restructuring and advanced training methods of its military. This was not yet the ‘severe blow’ that laid out strong emphasis on modernization. After the Gulf war erupted in the early 1990’s, it was the first time that US had fought directly with coalition forces, therefore, their display of advance technology, equipment and advanced combat skills stunned the Chinese policy makers. Even though the state made massive reductions to its military force, after 1979, the Iraqi invasion was the actual turning point for the military strategy of the state, as it was a display of technological sophistication for the PLA and reflection of its capabilities at that time.
In 1993, the China Communist Party rolled out a set of reforms that accentuated the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army, it was the first time that the Chinese strategists had abandoned Mao’s concept of ‘people’s war’, which was a derivative of the total war doctrine. The Chinese strategists replaced the long-standing ‘total war’ doctrine with the ‘limited war’ doctrine. Although there was a stronger military modernization emphasis during the late 90’s however the actual developments were made in the economic realm. In 2001, after China became a member of the World Trade Organization, new economic opportunities paved a way for a prosperous economic growth for the state.
After all those years, the year 2012 proved be another major turning point for the PLA’s steps toward modernization. In 2012, president Xi Jinping took charge, he advocated a ‘Chinese Dream’ of making the state a world-class force by its 100th independence anniversary, which is 2049. This ‘Chinese Dream’ envisaged the restructuring, re-grouping and modernizing its armed forces. In 2015, China introduced two more forces to its service branches, namely Strategic Support Force and the Rocket Force (Strategic Missile Force). Following the year, in 2016, the government announced “the downsizing of 300,000 troops”, eradicating the former ‘the more, the merrier’ political belief, implying a focus on quantity rather than quality of the troops.
China’s overall military expenditure has also increased every year, progressively since the early the 2000’s. According to the 2019 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook, “the Chinese military expenditure, recorded in 2018, was around 250 billion US-Dollars, while the US military expenditure was around 649 billion dollars”, still not as much as United States, however, China has come very close in compared to the rest of the states in the world, that could compete with the United States, in the economic sense. Therefore, there is a clear priority of national security for China, as a globally-chaotic political environmentcould suppress the state’s rise as a respected super power, which is why the capabilities of PLA has gotten the centre stage in the state’s national security.
PLA’s Force Structure
China has a coast line of about 18000 kilometres, however, its Exclusive Economic Zone is of 200 nautical miles, same as its strategic partner Pakistan, but China also claims over more than 6000 islands as a part of its territory. The state has five regions of commands;
- Central Command; Beijing and security for China Communist Party leadership.
- Eastern Command; Taiwan, East China Sea, Disputed Islands and Japan.
- Northern Command; Korean Peninsula and borders with Russia, Mongolia and the Yellow Sea.
- Southern Command; South China Sea and borders with South East Asian countries.
- Western Command; Borders with India and a fight for counter-terrorism.
These above-mentioned areas of commands are the responsibilities of People’s Liberation Army and which is why the PLA was re-structured into the following five group of forces;
- PLA Ground Forces/Army; has approximated of 975,000 troops in service.
- PLA Airforce; has approximated of 395,000 troops in service.
- PLA Navy; has approximated of 240,000 troops in service.
- PLA Rocket Force (Strategic Missile Force); has approximated of 100,000 troops in service.
- PLA Strategic Support Force; has approximated 175,000 troops in service.
China having the world’s largest population, has no shortage of troops, other than a total over 2 million personnel in service, China also has other 150,000 of militia and about 500,000 in reserve. On its first Independence Day parade, the state only had a few capabilities and most of them were captured. The shame was felt so deep that had to expand its military capabilities, and after decades of blood and sweat, China managed to develop the following capabilities;
- Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (70 in stock).
- Bomber Aircrafts (162 in service).
- Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles (3,860 in service).
- Main Battle Tanks (6,740 in service).
- Attack guide missile Submarines (57 in service)
- Aircraft Carriers (1 in service).
- Cruisers, Destroyers and Frigates (82 in service).
- Principal Amphibious Ships (4 in service).
- Tactical Aircrafts (1,966 in service).
- Attack Helicopters (246 in service).
- Satellites (77 in orbit).
All of these capabilities were created by the state itself, setting afoot to the journey to revive the lost status of a great power. In the early 1960’s the PLA made a shift towards building a strong Airforce, with a constant focus on the ground forces, however, the last two decades marked China’s shift towards the maritime development and security. The heavy naval build-up illuminates that not only does the state need to secure its territorial boundaries, but also to protect its mega-economic Belt and Road Initiative project, not because of the fact that it will cost the state more than just a couple hundred billion US-Dollars, but the trade it will hold and the regional connectivity that it will provide, may change the entire international order.
PLA and National Security:
People’s Liberation Army has a direct involvement in national security, because the military doctrine/strategy of a state is derivative of the state’s national interest, implying that the PLA is a mere tool in the execution of the grand strategy of the Republic of China. With rapid developments to the system the first major achievement for the state’s grand strategy is the transition of the state profile towards a ‘global power’ from a ‘regional power’ and such transitions are followed by a number of threats. Given the complicated globalised strategic environment, the national interests have also expanded, despite their developmental strategy, indicating a strong maritime force, there’s much ambiguity in the predictability of the executional strategy.
The China’s external threats are of two sorts; territorial and diplomatic tensions. Territorial disputes in South and East China Sea, over various islands, in particular the infamous Senku and Diaoyu islands, attracts much attention. If a proper military infrastructure is installed on the islands, it can prevent US involvement and also, most importantly, Taiwan’s independence. Diplomatic tensions can also result from territorial disputes in a region, such as with Japan. Other diplomatic tensions are merely out of spite, for example, China’s emergence as a global power is unbearable to the US’ hegemony and world recognized prestige. That is why China has been observing and acting upon improvements over its military capabilities and strategy. In April 2020, China constructed a second Type 075 warship, a class designed to compete in amphibious capability with the American Wasp class ships. Two more are anticipated, as are two more aircraft carriers. These are clearly designed to match American warships, and raise interest in China’s ability to sustain distant interest by sea, most obviously in the Indian Ocean, but also wherever Chinese geopolitical concerns may be favoured by naval power projection.”, said professor Jeremy Black of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
Other than United States, Japan and Taiwan, Russia is also a great threat to the national interests of the state. The increased strategic cooperation does not imply that Russian strategists do not consider China as a major threat as well, in fact, it is quite the same on the other side of the fence. The Russian inclusion in the Caspian Sea, makes the Central Asian states vulnerable to Russian pressure, which could seize a major part of the entire BRI project.
Furthermore, the internal security threats are not the responsibility of the PLA, People’s Armed Police is assigned for internal security matters, however, if there occurs a situation of civil unrest or uprising, particularly in the Tibet and Xinjiang, then the PLA would most likely answer to the call of duty.
Conclusively, there is a direct role of the People’s Liberation Army in the Republic of China’s national interests and ultimately its national security. Although a number of modernizations and reforms were mentioned in this paper, there still is a lot of modernizations that are being kept confidential to the public and with opaque nature of matters, one cannot exactly predict where this will lead to. There are a number of global implications over the topic under discussion, such as the most likelihood of a third world war. This possible implication, is the most debated possibility in the current academic consensus over the matter, this is because the United States of America sees the Republic of China, as a ‘revisionist power’ and the hegemonic influence has strengthened its allies over the course of time, which is why China also takes it into account and keeps expanding its maritime territory to assert dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. Although China has claimed not to build offshore military bases, the naval base in Djibouti and the second under construction in Cambodia is a serious concern for the United States.
Regardless of the heavy criticism, China still believes in a peaceful and prosperous economic and prestigious rise. Not to blame the state, but if mere claims and assurances were enough to influence the global political assessments, then China may not get to that point of development. That is why the state has setup a heavy navy build-up and it aims to deter US and coalition forces. Assumingly, if the state manages to score a peaceful rise in the era of complex nature of warfare and false flags, then it could provide a new and improved vision for the world order. Henceforth, protecting the rule of the China’s Communist Party, is on the top of the priority shelf of the People’s Liberation Army and after that, 95 % of the threats that the PLA would provide a shield against, are the external threats of all sorts. In this automized information age, the purpose of expanding PLA’s service branches to Rocket force and the Strategic Support Force was mainly to have a separate supervision for the nuclear arsenals and also to fight cyber-terrorism threats.
Mulvenon, C., James and Yang, H., Richard.” The People’s Liberation Army in the Information Age.” Rand Corporation, no. 1(1999):5-10.https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF145/CF145.chap7.pdf.
Mulvenon, C., James and Yang, H., Richard.” The People’s Liberation Army in the Information Age.” Rand Corporation, no. 1(1999): 10-20. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF145/CF145.chap7.pdf.
Mulvenon, C., James and Yang, H., Richard.” The People’s Liberation Army in the Information Age.” Rand Corporation, no. 1(1999): 20-30. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF145/CF145.chap7.pdf.
SIPRI.” Armaments, Disarmament and International Security.” SIPRI Yearbook 2019, (2019): 6-10. https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/2019-06/yb19_summary_eng.pdf
Maizland, Lindsay.” China’s Modernizing Military.” Council on Foreign Relations. Accessed on August 5, 2020. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/chinas-modernizing-military.
İlhan, Bekir.” China’s Evolving Military Doctrine After the Cold War.” SETA Analysis, no. 59(January,2020): 11-12. https://setav.org/en/assets/uploads/2020/02/A56En.pdf.
İlhan, Bekir.” China’s Evolving Military Doctrine After the Cold War.” SETA Analysis, no. 59(January,2020): 12-13. https://setav.org/en/assets/uploads/2020/02/A56En.pdf.
İlhan, Bekir.” China’s Evolving Military Doctrine After the Cold War.” SETA Analysis, no. 59(January,2020): 13-14. https://setav.org/en/assets/uploads/2020/02/A56En.pdf.
Black, Jeremy.” China’s Military Capabilities and the New Geopolitics.” Foreign Policy Research Institute. Accessed on August 5, 2020. https://www.fpri.org/article/2020/05/chinas-military-capabilities-and-the-new-geopolitics/.
The Reagan Institute poll: Americans are losing trust in the military
The current era is marked by fading trust in U.S. institutions, but confidence in one pillar has held up: the military. But now even that is eroding, and the question is whether the brass will get the message, writes “The Wall Street Journal”.
The Reagan Institute releases an annual survey of public attitudes on national defense, and this year only 48% reported having “a great deal of confidence” in the U.S. military in results first detailed here. That’s down from 70% in 2018, and within the margin error of last year’s 45%.
Some 52% also had reduced confidence in uniformed officers.
General Mark Milley’s speech to Congress last year that he wanted to understand “white rage,” in response to reasonable inquiries about whether cadets at West Point should be learning critical race theory, was a lapse in judgment. Many Americans think the military is no longer an institution that runs on excellence, merit and individual submission to a larger cause.
The Pentagon denies this is a problem, but it surely is if half the public believes it.
Americans on the left have their own reasons for declining confidence in the military: 46% cited right-wing extremism, even though this scourge has been wildly overstated.
This drop in confidence comes at an ominous moment, as the public seems to know.
Some 75% in the Reagan survey viewed China as an enemy, up from 55% in 2018, and the percentage of those worried about Russia has doubled. Some 70% are concerned China might invade Taiwan within five years, and 61% support increasing the U.S. military’s Pacific footprint.
Ukraine Crisis: International Security and Foreign Policy Option for Pakistan
Impact on International Security:
When Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Russia presented it as a matter of its own under the “Special Military Operation”, but it has major repercussions on the regional as well as global security. It proved to be the most predominant driving force of escalation in the European region which had huge ramifications on the rest of the world. It is a seismic international issue, because it has spillover effects on the world’s security i.e., traditional, and non-traditional security, proliferation of weapons, global energy, economy, refuge crisis and the food security. It aroused refugee crisis and around 5.8 million refugees from Ukraine moved to Poland, Hungry and Romania etc. This war has brought a surge of new challenges for the globalized world and a challenge to Pakistan’s foreign policy.
The primary imminent threat to international security is the food security, which is the second goal of the SDGs by UN. Ukraine and Russia provide ample amount of food for about “four hundred million people,” out of which “fifty%” sunflower oil, “ten%” grains and “thirteen%” corns are exported by both. These substantial supplies are exported to countries like India, China, Pakistan, North African countries and to Europe. In March both the countries have imposed ban on the export of fertilizer and food, but countries like India is making agreements for less price. Analyzing the above statistics, the extraordinary sanctions on Russia have touched the world in a more horrific way, and it has increased the risk of food insecurity.
Curiously, the Russian invasion has ignited the issue of energy insecurity in the entire world. This issue has been further accelerated by the sanctions that are imposed by the EU, and US on Russia. It had also impacted the EU, currently they are working on projects to reduce the dependence on Russian oil and gas till 2024. According to some statistics, European countries were the major importers of Russian oil and gas for about 40-49% and almost 30-38% the Asian countries and rest were imported by other countries. This war has also increased the prices of oil unprecedently in the international market to 108$ per barrel of crude oil in April 2022. Along with it the high rate of dependance of the European countries notably Germany has been affected so much.
Furthermore, these crisis poses a threat to the traditional security of states and have led to a security dilemma, as the British industrial complex BEA shares have increased up to 14%, Rheinmetall (Germany) up to 29% and Lockheed Martin (US) shares are also increased. The world is not unipolar now, but the unipolarity of the world has been challenged and yet multipolarity is on its rise. Once again, there is a clash between the Western-US bloc and the communist bloc. China also supports Russia in this cause indirectly because China did not stand in the UN resolution with the Western-US bloc, so there is the clash of world powers again and Western-US bloc is consistently supporting Ukraine with an economic aid and providing the military assistance. There is also an imminent threat to Taiwan as US did not intercept Russia in these crises directly so it would not be able to constrain China from Taiwan. This would increase the proliferation of conventional as well as non-conventional weapons. The major ramification of Ukraine crisis is on the militarization of countries to ensure its security, because till now 3.4 billion dollars military package has been provided by US to Ukraine along with latest military equipment. Moreover, Russia is a nuclear weapon state and if it uses its nuke so its impacts cannot be constrained till Ukraine’s border and the usage of nuclear weapons in Ukraine is in consideration as the allies of Putin are also advising him.
Impact on Pakistan’s Foreign Policy:
When it comes to “Bloc politics,” there is always a gigantic pressure on the foreign policy of Pakistan because of the close historical ties with US and China both. The sentiment of “Neutrality” during the visit of Ex-PM Imran Khan to Moscow, built the tensions. Bilateral relations between the Russia and Pakistan are growing but not to the pace as with US, as exports of Pakistan grown at the rate of 13% and imports at 10% annually with Russia. Pakistan also abstained from voting in UN, from condemning Russia’s aggression along with thirty-four other countries. This resulted in a hype of growing mistrust and disrupted the mechanism of communication between Pakistan and US during Ukraine’s crisis. Pakistan’s move in the UN has provided an opportunity for its historical rival, India. It has strengthened its ties with US by 2+2 Dialogue which followed to “Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA)”, which is defense agreement between them.
For the international security following are some of the recommendations:
- Firstly, these crisis needs to be mitigated by a neutral body (UN) because if it is prolonged too much, it would indulge the world into a havoc, because both Russia and Ukraine are enormous contributors to the “Global source markets,” in energy, food, and fertilizer etc.
- Secondly, a new “Common and acceptable agenda” must be initiated by the UN, which is acceptable to both, because without a common agenda no party is willing to stay back among both the countries.
- Thirdly, “Disinformation and misinformation” must be controlled because both sides are using their national and social media for their own, as early it was speculated that the Ukrainian crisis is purely Russia’s internal security issue.
- Finally, one option for Pakistan’s foreign policy is to take the edge of “Neutral foreign policy,” as India is also signing agreements with Russia for 30 % less price of the oil while also maintained strategic ties with the US and signing defense agreements with the US. This would help Pakistan to gain its national interest and its political objectives from both the blocs, because US still have the status quo and Russia is the rising power after Soviet Union fall in 1991 and Russia is also supported by China as well.
- Another option for Pakistan’s foreign policy is that Pakistan should revisit its foreign policy with US and take a pragmatic approach. This is because historically, Pakistan was aligned with US in “War on terror” and Pakistan also received economic and financial assistance from US-bloc under “Coalition support fund” and both EU and US have largest trade relations with Pakistan than Russia. US also have a great amount of trade partnership with Pakistan, imports of Pakistan from US were $237.092 million during May,2022 while exports were $499.686 million in July 2022.
Thus, from above mentioned policy options, it can be concluded that Pakistan must condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine because this is the violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Pakistan should not abruptly change its bloc towards Russia, but to continue with the US-bloc, because the situation in Ukraine is uncertain and ambiguous. Russian economy is also destabilized and if Pakistan went towards Russian-bloc, it would suffer a lot. Moreover, Pakistan has better trade ratio with US and EU as compared to Russia. Similarly, Russia can only provide oil and gas to Pakistan, providing energy security but on contrary, US can support Pakistan in economic and defense security as proved in the history because US has provided billions of dollars to Pakistan under different agreements and moreover Pakistan should not left a space to India in South Asia because it can exploit the opportunity of bad Pak-US relations in its own national interests.
Internet of Military Things (IoMT) and the Future of Warfare
The Internet of Military Things (IoMT) is a class of heterogeneously connected devices employed for future warfare. It has wide applications in advanced combat operations and intelligence-oriented warfare. For example, it allows real-time connection among devices, such as between unmanned vehicles and a central command station. Likewise, it would enable a broader warfighting concept interpreted as Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) by the United States (US) military. JADC2 is based on a similar network of sensors that connect all battlefield devices.
A majority of highly advanced military units have integrated IoMT into their battlefield operations to enhance their surveillance and response strategies. This concept offers multiple strategic options to militaries. For example, deployment of multiple sensors of IoMT across various domains (air, land, sea, space and cyber) can support data to acquire comprehensive situational awareness and understand the information ecosystem of the battlefield. This will ultimately speed up the Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) loop of decision-making and help in prompt and accurate planning and execution in future warfare.
IoMT can connect not only battlefield devices but also military troops through wearable devices. Under challenging terrains such as mountains, jungle or deserted terrains, wearable devices such as a jacket or a wristband can sense and track troops’ health status, weapon state, atmospheric conditions, relative locations and communicate all such information to the central command. The central command can analyse the tactical data of the soldiers to make decisions, based on incoming real-time information. It is expected that with the advancement of neural networks, wearable devices will also be able to evaluate the physical, psychological and emotional state of Air Force pilot. It is also anticipated that automated battleground devices, such as mechanised snipers would be equipped with IoMT. Such a sniper would have two units, a firing unit and a control unit. A webcam and a sensor would detect movement while the control unit would order fire.
Cloud computing would be essential for the storage of data gathered from multiple sensors of IoMT. A 5G connection would, therefore, be vital for data transfer through high bandwidth and low latency. Likewise, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics would be crucial for data processing.
The US and China have actively invested in IoMT. The US military has developed an integrated warfighting network that converges and combines all the data from IoMT sensors, radars, and satellites. This data is filtered to pinpoint critical data for successful missions. IoMT solutions have also been used to integrate the Army’s ballistic missile defence system and classified communication networks into one central hub to interact with and engage threats. US defence contractors such as Lockheed Martin, L3Harris and Northrop Grumman have worked on various elements of this integrated battle network.
Similarly, China has also shown great interest in IoMT. The model China has adopted to develop IoMT includes a high level of collaboration between academic and government research organisations, the private sector and defence industrial complexes. Like the US, China has also developed a strategic outline for integrated warfare. The Chinese National Defence White Paper (NDWP 2019) characterised future warfare as ‘Intelligent Warfare.’ A round of cutting-edge IoT technologies would drive the development of an intelligent military and ultimately create a modern military force for the future. This process is expected to be completed by 2035.
The Indian Army is using IoMT for communication purposes. It has been developing an LTE-based mobile communication grid with integrated IoMT sensors to provide a secure and failsafe communication system. This communication system would have layered security for voice, data and video, and protect the network from intrusions and interceptions. This communication system would be provided to formations and units along Pakistan and China’s border. For developing this IoT-based communication grid, the Indian military would choose only Indian vendors and those foreign companies who have registered offices with production, maintain and repair infrastructures in the country.
The IoT ecosystem in Pakistan is nascent as the country lacks the basic infrastructure to produce IoT devices on a large scale. Presently, small start-ups have been engaged in building IoT devices through outsourcing, mainly to China. These start-ups have developed wearable medical devices, smart home appliances, trackers for electric consumption, etc. IoMT devices require a large upfront budget; however, these applications offer long-term benefits. As Pakistan is heavily inclined towards developing its capacity in emerging technologies, IoMT should not be neglected as it could be a force multiplier that facilitates the network of communication and data transmission. Coupled with advancements in the telecom industry and 5G, IoMT can deliver effective and precise military capabilities that would help in tackling any future threat environment.
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