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Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Doctrine of Information War and Global Dynamics

Merwah Qureshi |

With the evolution of the world the warfare technologies have also evolved. Gone are the days when states used to have conventional wars. Technological innovation has changed the war strategies. Advanced communication setup has influenced various aspects of the international system. One such aspect is the global shift from Kinetic warfare towards the Non-Kinetic one.

21st Century: The Era of Non-Kinetic Warfare

In the 21st century Kinetic warfare no more enjoys the limelight; this is the era of Non-Kinetic warfare. Instead of destruction or physical degradation of an adversary via military means, Non-Kineticism focuses on exploiting the already present fault lines to critically affect the nation without any physical involvement. Aims or goals to be achieved in both kinds of warfare are same; however they both differ in their strategy to realize the aims.

Non-Kineticism involves virtual and smart means-cyberspace, proxies, media wars, propaganda setting, intelligence operation, economic and trade wars mainly- to achieve the desired results. Among all, information warfare is the most prominent type of Non-Kinetic warfare.

Read more: Analyzing the dynamics of institutional imbalance in Pakistan

Information Warfare: The Most Eminent Doctrine in War Studies

In contemporary time, information warfare is the most eminent phenomenon in war studies. It is the type of war in which information technology and cyberspace is used. With the technological innovation, cyber space has become the new battleground of the time. It is a psychological war which affects the general psyche of the populace by inculcating anti-state narratives in their minds, which then becomes the reason for national chaos.

In this process, public opinion and facts are manipulated with the help of propaganda setting for the construction of prejudiced realities. These prejudiced realities help the adversaries to achieve their goals without direct military involvement. Information warfare is a term with wide interpretation. It is a multi-faceted doctrine challenging almost all the -political, economic, social, cultural, ideological- aspects of national power.

In the 21st century, Kinetic warfare no more enjoys the limelight; this is the era of Non-Kinetic warfare.

Information activity is not only limited to the state actors but it is also used by the non-state actors.In this time of information warfare, comparative advantage is enjoyed by the state or party which holds more information against the adversary.

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Information Warfare and the World

Many states-explicitly the western ones- are using this warfare technique to maintain their hegemony across the globe. West has always kept on mingling in the external and internal affairs of her political opponents, sometimes via propaganda setting – in the case of Iraq invasion- or sometimes by nurturing anti-state sentiments- in the case of Arab Spring. US being the most technologically advanced state enjoys the privilege of her position. From the events of South Ossetia to the Middle East Crises, she has played a massive role in the world politics with the help of her information manipulation skills. Even after all this, the westerners haven’t refrained from blaming other countries for being defensive only.

Among all, they have kept on accusing Russia -categorically- for this information warfare every now and then. Ironically, Russia has entered this game long after them. To explain more, after the creation of Russian Federation uptill 2008, Russia did not participate in this episode, though the western agencies and the foreign media outlets kept on fostering anti-state narrative and invading the Russian culture throughout this period of time. Russian leadership became more concerned about the information warfare after the South Ossetia incident.

With the technological innovation, cyber space has become the new battleground of the time.

Leonid Savin (a Russian Geopolitical analyst) mentions in his article- Information Warfare- Historical Excursus and Russia’s Position- that it is in 2017 the Russian government took a serious notice against these foreign intrigues. In addition to this, Russian media (RT and Sputnik) has never gone for any propaganda setting or constructivist approach rather it has always been involved in the informative operations. Theirs is a purely defensive model in contrast to the offensive model of the western states. Their standard and strategically prudent work has irked the western states. L. Savin has also discussed the Gerasimov Doctrine which further explains information warfare and the hegemonic designs of US in this international game.

Read more: “Pakistan has changed,” says information minister

Russia’s Defensive Posture to Counter West waged Information War

Russia’s defensive approach towards this information warfare and the communicational campaigns has been illustrated in the policy document of Russian National Security Strategy. According to this document, the emergence of new forms of anti-government campaigns with the help of high tech communication and advanced information system has been observed on multiple grounds. Moreover, information and communicational elements promoting and fostering the extremist, fascist, terrorist and separatist tendencies are declared as a clear threat to the sovereignty and security of the state. Furthermore, this information activity is targeting the Russian culture, language and civil society as a whole.

So, to avert this all there is a sheer need to counter these foreign intrusions as per the Russian military and strategic doctrines. In addition to this,  the political, military, economic and social realms are to be interconnected and well harmonized to avoid any military conflict, tomaintain strategic deterrence, to strengthen national sovereignty and for territorial integrity.

The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation

Russian Military Doctrine further highlights these issues and labels every such involvement in Russian national arena as a clear threat to the sovereignty of the nation. It focuses on the creation of such environment which assures the security of information and communicational technologies so these shouldn’t be used negatively against the state by the other states. Moreover, the Russian Ministry of Defense has created further specialized divisions against this information conflict.

These include scientific research unit, technological maintenance unit and the information analytical unit. Furthermore, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has also announced the aspiration to create information technology armies in the Russian Armed Forces. This setup is purely of defensive nature. It is aimed to protect the sensitive national information to avoid any strategic mishap in the future.

Read more: Cost of US-China Rivalry for Pakistan – Andrew Small

Pakistan’s Position in this Digitalized War

Pakistan is facing internal as well as external problems to achieve her longing aims of prosperity and growth. She has fault lines which can be exploited by the rival countries with the help of propaganda setting. In this era of multi-pronged Non-Kineticism, she needs to be more vigilant. This information warfare makes it easy for the regional and extra regional powers to covertly interfere in Pakistan’s national affairs, which is a grave threat to the national security.

On the same hand, Hawkish India with her modernized communication and information technology infrastructure challenges Pakistan’s national security. With India at the eastern border and Indian presence in the Afghanistan, Pakistan is vulnerable to this warfare. Moreover, as media is the best tool for anti-state propaganda setting so, few mass media outlets campaigning against the projects good for national interest also show the Indian ingress in the Pakistani media.

Pakistan should master this art of war by strengthening her technological control and command system.

How Pakistan can Defend herself against this threat of Information War?

In order to avert these threats, Pakistan primarily needs to focus on the existing fault lines -be it economic, political, cultural or ideological- and should formulate a comprehensive policy to defend her national interest. She needs to follow the footsteps of Russian Ministry of Defense and should go for the creation of information technology(IT) specialized branches explicitly for the purpose of defending the country against this information warfare. Keeping in view the defensive model of Russian federation, Pakistan should also dedicate the human as well as other resources against this imminent threat of information warfare.

There is a dire need for an upgraded and modernized IT and communication setup to secure the critical infrastructure of Pakistan or else it can be easily manipulated by the rivals for their interests. Pakistan being at home in conventional warfare technologies should sharply focus on this new war doctrine and master this art of war by strengthening her technological control and command system.

Read more: What is hybrid warfare? – Ikram Sehgal

The End Note

As now, Non-Kineticism has replaced Kineticism, so it is the time to concentrate more on the unconventional defense mechanism instead of the conventional ones. This digitalized warfare has influenced the whole world. Currently, information supremacy has become the vital part of the national power which dictates the national leaders to formulate a more pragmatic national security policy. Moreover, most of the states –including Pakistan- are working to formulize the comprehensive and prudent security and strategic policies to counter this non-kinetic warfare.

I would dodge, not lie, in the national interest.
(Larry Speakes)

Miss Merwah Hamid Qureshi holds an M. Phil Degree in Biochemistry from QAU, Islamabad and is also a visiting lecturer for International Relations at National Officers Academy (NOA), Rawalpindi. She is a freelance content writer for online portals like Amazon. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.