India more vulnerable to unconventional warfare threats

Dr Sudershan Kumar
The current global security scenario has undergone a paradigm shift from what it was a decade ago and is greatly influenced by a myriad of factors which encompass the following: emergence and concentration of power to a single centre, more regional groupism, rise of irresponsible states, rise of non-state actors and focused terrorist groups, state sponsored fundamentalism and emanation of terrorist organizations. All these factors have been instrumental in a continuous quest to possess more and more sophisticated and unconventional war fare agents. Thus these states possessing unconventional war fare which include chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons and cyber war fare have become a menace to the stable world order. Further the face of terrorism has under gone a significant change during the past decade. There has been a gradual upsurge in the lethality of the terrorist attacks. Besides, South Asian region is full of contradictions disparities and paradoxes. In the post colonial period , South Asia has been a theatre of bloody inter state as well as civil wars; it has witnessed liberation movements, military dictatorship and continues to suffer from insurgencies, religious fundamentalism and terrorism, besides serious problems associated with drugs and other agents. There fore, India being part of South Asian region is more vulnerable to unconventional war fare threats due to changing dynamics of the region. This assumes more significance in the wake of the following factors. Firstly, it is an established fact that over the years, the influence of Wahhabi Islam has expanded exorbitantly facilitated by Saudi funded Muslim radicalization. This has resulted into the brewing of a new phenomena in the hinter land in India in the form violent clashes between moderate and radical muslim groups .ISIS recruiters have also been caught in alluring young professionals for joining their camps. Secondly, Donald Trump’s sudden announcement to with draws its troops from Afghanistan with an unfinished agenda of establishing peace in Afghanistan after seventeen years of long fought war would provide terrorist organizations an edge in this tactical victory This move if implemented without proper planning would prove detrimental to the world order and bring Afghanistan back to square. There will be complete anarchy and chaos in Afghanistan. India has lot more at stake because of its involvement in infrastructure building. This will also have serious implication on Kashmir problem. Thirdly, turbulence forged by our rogue neighbour by waging proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir state and pushing jihadi groups and terrorists in Kashmir valley has further poisoned and altered the peaceful environment in the region. Even, the US intelligence chief has also corroborated this fact. He has stated that Pakistani is continuously aiding and abetting terrorism from its soil. Fourthly, Pakistan’s Inter service Intelligence agency is now once again trying to revive militancy in Punjab state by providing tactical support to Khalistani movement. Even Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh in one of the news conference has endorsed the involvement of Pak.’s ISI in Amritsar terror attack. Also by acquiring tactical nuclear weapon indirectly from North Korea and China, Pakistani administration and military is in a state of false euphoria and often carry out subersive activities against India. These Pak leaders are often hallucinating that in case of conventional war, they will make India cry and keep on issuing immature and threatening statements against India with out realising its implications. Their audacity carries no significance as in case of this misadventure, their country will be wiped out of the world map. Lastly in the current scenario , an aspect of paramount importance is the ISI’s new misadventure where it is deeply involved in the use of cyber war fare for radicalising youths in various parts of country especially in Kashmir valley as a part of their long term strategy of destabilizing India. Pak. military follows the policy of bleeding India with thousand cuts under the false notion of nuclear deterrence.
Recently the busting of ‘ISIS-inspired’ groups by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad(ATS) at Thane and in Aurangabad, further substantiates the nefarious designs of various foreign agencies in destabilizing India. The ATS during the raids has further seized liquids chemical powders and bottle with “hydrogen peroxide”, which clearly indicates that the arrested people had attained the capability to synthesize the toxic chemicals and process these for blending with food and water to kill innocent people. Hence, the hostile neighbourhood poses a great menace towards the use of unconventional war fare which seems to be imminent.
Therefore unconventional war fare(CBRN & cyber security) remains a subject of continuous scrutiny and intense debate amongst policymakers, academics and military professionals not only in India but around the globe. This assessment maps and analyses the debate on the potential future use of CBRN materials in the security and safety domain in the next twenty to thirty years.In the past also there have been numerous incidents of use of CBRN weapons against mankind. Notably among them were the extensive use of chemical war fare agents in World War I against adversaries, nuclear weapons (Two Atoms Bombs) in World War II against Japan, use of chemical weapons by state forces against their own people and non state actors for terrorizing the people. Besides mankind has also suffered on various instances like in cases of mishandling, reactor accidents and chemical plant accidents etc. But ironically still no lessons are learnt. On the contrary, countries continue to develop CBRN weapons (commonly known as weapons of mass destruction) to gain supremacy over each other. As per unconfirmed reports, countries have conducted more than 2000 nuclear tests and piled up around 14600 nuclear war heads in various forms. USA and Russia are in possession of majority of them. Besides countries like USA, Russia and many other countries declared nearly 72524 metric tones of chemical warfare, 8.67 million chemical weapons and 97 production facilities to OPCW as per chemical weapon treaty. The countries also have capabilities to develop the bio war fares.
Besides cyber war fare has also emerged as a major challenge. The countries around the world are moving towards digital world in twenty first century. This involves setting up of hardware and software infrastructure. This is in the form of routers, modems, computers, communications system software programs. These can be breached and hacked. Cyber operations are of two types. Either for extraction or in formation or for destruction, denial, degradation and disruptions. In India nearly 98% equipment is more vulnerable to cyber attacks. In year 2017 itself there have been nearly 53000 cyber attacks.
To counter these future threats of unconventional war fare both CBRN and Cyber, the technology will play a key role. CBRN, which involves detection, protection decontamination and medical managements, is majorly found to play a fundamental role and the countries around the globe have dedicated significant attention and resources to develop technologies to counter the proliferation and preparation of CBRN protections and to thwart the potential effects of CBRN attacks. These technologies involved are sensors/surveillance systems for detection, protective gears, decontamination systems for decontamination of men, material and terrain and specialized hospitals for medical management. Nonetheless, attaining or retaining CBRN weapon capabilities continues to be a priority for numerous countries and terrorist groups.
Also scientific and technical advances are likely to make available chemical, biological, radiological and tactical weapons with more useful characteristics than current versions.The easy availability of chemicals and radio active materials to non state actors from rogue states will enhance CBRN threat manifold in the years to come .
To respond to future CBRN threats, the development of innovative technologies will be imperative. These include reconnaissance vehicles, sensor net workings, mini and micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, satellite for nuclear capable missile, neutrino beams for under ground detection bio sensor, laser for detection of enriched uranium, carbon nano tubes, enzyme embedded co-polymer, hybrid systems, disposable lab on globe combination of micro chip on globe and many other innovative technologies.
Similarly to counter cyber war fare threats, one will have to look into types of cyber operations, artificial intelligence &machine learning, creation of global resources operational time zone, credible media and formulation of fresh guide lines for digital systems. Also rigorous acts are needed to contain the hackers who can act on three gateway levels: first at device level / machine level, second at soft ware level and third and the most challenging is use of social media for creating unrest etc.
There fore the need of the hour is to make sure that new systems and technologies are put in place to deal with multiple ‘all hazard’ threats to society and critical national infrastructure. The author is of the view that India is going to face this threat more intensely in the years to come both due to internal and external environment. So all-out efforts must be made to develop high end advanced and critical technologies through consortium approach. It is a well established fact that no country will part with its front line technology. It has to be attained through indigenous development, production and induction into services .
(The author is former Director General & Special Secretary DRDO, MOD, GOI)