Political and Technological Dimension of Revolution in Strategic Affairs

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In the contemporary world, the technological advancement and the political developments has revolutions the strategic affairs. After the introduction of advance armaments and weapons of mass destruction the world elite decided to restructure the political fabric of the global order to ensure safety from the destruction of military advancement. Strategic affairs can be termed as “a set of identification, acquisition, allocation and mobilisation of various components of the comprehensive national power and their alignment towards achieving the military goals set by the state”. Whereas, Liddell Hart paraphrased it, “the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy.” Therefore, strategic affairs of a state include international politics, geo-strategy, international diplomacy, international economics and military power. The aim of nation state’s strategic affairs is three dimensional including securing its existence, achievement and promotion of its national goals related to various cultural and politico-economic factors.

The various dimensions of the states’ strategic affairs’ transform with the time, prevailing circumstances and technological advancements. The contemporary political dimension of the strategic affairs revolutionized after the emergence of the UN and multilateral regimes and trans-national alliances. Furthermore, the emergence of multi-polar world order after the cold war also played a vital role in the evolution of political dimension of the strategic affairs. With the introduction of the concept of “Grand Strategy” by the western world in 20th century the war was expanded to the societal, demographic, financial and industrial aspects. As far as the technological dimension of the matter is concerned the weapons of mass destruction and Artificial Intelligence has altogether reformed the strategic affairs of the world. Now, the element of human logic has been replaced by artificial intelligence therefore, making the strategic affairs and war more complex. The replacement of the human based decision making with the technological occupation the threat of destruction has been increased.

“No one starts a war – or rather no one in his sense ought to do so – without first being clear in his mind what he tends to achieve by that war and how he tends to conduct it. The former is its political purpose; the latter its operational objective.”

With the emergence of the institutions political institutions the dynamics of the strategic affairs has been changed as the states are answerable to the international community and international bodies. The justification of the war to the alliance and international organizations has decreased the risk of the direct war; however, it has increased the probabilities of the indirect war. Besides the international community the globalization and technological advancement has made the state answerable to its own population. For instance, during the Afghan war the US has to present the war justification to the world and to its own population. In the past times the war was the decision of an individual leader or a state in pursuance of its own interests.

From another dynamic to fight a hybrid war inside the country the winning of hearts and minds of the people has added the non-kinetic dynamic to the equation of the war. In recent times the sustainability of the peace lies in the non-kinetic domain rather than increasing the kinetic force upon the subjected population. For instance, Pakistan added the non-kinetic operations in its military campaign while fighting against the terrorism. At the same time a state has to project its victory through narrative building to get international acknowledgment. In comparison to this, in past there was no need to satisfy the international audience.

Moreover, the economic influence and economic pressure has shifted the dynamics of the strategic affairs. The countries like China are countering the military dominance through the economic expansion and increasing economic based alliances. The project like OBOR in Asia and huge economic investment in the African countries are examples in this regard. Now, the strategists have to encounter the military as well as economic influence while deciding the strategic affairs of a country.  The technological advancement in the field of the information, AI and weapons has also impacted the strategic affairs. The communication is extremely important in the military affairs and it includes “Collection, Analysis and Communication”. The satellite technology has attained such advancement that the man can “obtain information from any part of the world to a resolution up to 3 cm. This means that today nothing is hidden in the world from those who have this technology. All the information gathered in the real time frame can be processed through computers which today are capable of processing three trillion functions per second”. The integration of the satellite and computer technology has reduced the time frame and space whereas, increased the efficiency of command and control.

C4ISR (Command, Control, Communication, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) has connected strategic and tactical level thus bringing the Revolution in Strategic Affairs. The increased capability in the technology has lead US Admiral to present ‘the idea of “creating a web” of ships/fighting units in Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea to protect US interest in the pivotal region of Caspian Sea and Gulf’. According to the idea, the Commander can “identify, acquire, analyse and engage a target anywhere in the area with most appropriate response in shortest time. The response would be so well coordinated and at the same time dispersed that the enemy would be destroyed, yet would not be able to know that who has done it and from where it has been done.”

Besides the communication the weapons of mass destruction and nuclear dimension has revolutionized the strategy domain. Now, the nuclear aspect is kept in mind while analyzing any subject matter and it balances the traditional deficiencies. Apart from the nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction the latest revolution in technological domain is AI. It has automated the decision making hence decreasing the role of humans. AI is further expected to revolutionize the strategic affairs as it will change the power balances by decreasing the role of military and increasing the role of technology. Furthermore, AI will enhance the lethality and reduce risk to societies possessing AI war-fighting systems. It will also have a disproportionate effect on the battlefield the advantage due to the good decision making will be replaced by the technological advancement and increased revenue spending on the military. This aspect will directly support the industrial societies like the US and west and will complicate power assessments. This has potential to lead world to a unipolar order as the country acquiring the most advanced technology will lead the world.

Additionally, “uncertainty about the relative capabilities of rival AIs, and thus of the distribution of military power at any moment, could provide scope for considerable brinkmanship, and therefore miscalculation.”

In the light of the aforementioned revolutions in the political and technological dimensions following are the recommendations for the modern strategists.

  1. Effectively management of the narrative.
  2. Addition of the non-kinetic aspect in the strategic equation.
  3. Strive for economic independence to freely decide strategic affairs.
  4. Alliance formation in the international arena to safeguard national interests.
  5. Proactive policies on the emerging situations.
  6. Acquaintance with the modern technology.
  7. Management of transfer of technology.

            In a nutshell, it can be concluded that the political and technological dimensions of the strategic affairs has been revolutionized thus demands the change in the plan of action to deal with the various strategic aspects. The constant transition in the global politics and technological development demands the up gradation of the approach to deal with the strategic matters. The aforementioned recommendations can be helpful to cope with the revolution in the understudy dimensions.

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