artificial intelligence, robotics part of hi-tech army warfare strategy

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The 1.3-million strong Indian Army is now sharpening its entire war-fighting strategy, ranging from creation of agile integrated battle groups (IBGs) and expansive cyber warfare capabilities to induction plans for launch-on-demand micro satellites, directed-energy weapons, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the like.

India is currently faced with a “No War, No Peace” scenario due to the management of the “complex and active” unresolved borders with China and Pakistan, coupled with “hybrid warfare” or “state-sponsored proxy war and acts of terrorism from across the border”, says the Army’s new Land Warfare Doctrine-2018.

“A concerted effort is being made by our adversaries to shrink the space for conventional wars, through prosecution of unconventional operations at the lower end of the spectrum, and threats of early and irrational use of nuclear weapons at the other,” warns the doctrine.

While stressing the need to prepare for multi-faceted security challenges ahead, the doctrine says “any adversarial attempt to alter the status quo along our borders will be dealt with in a firm and resolute manner”, in a clear reference to the 73-day Doklam troop stand-off with China near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction last year.

The Army will take steps to resolve “deliberate transgressions” along the 4,057-km long Line of Actual Control with China to “our advantage with minimum escalation” in consonance with existing agreements and protocols. But there is “a need to be prepared for any escalation”.

Turning to Pakistan, the doctrine says the Army will continue to prosecute effective counter-terrorism operations, like the “surgical strikes” of September 2016, to “ensure deterrence through punitive responses” against the ongoing proxy war. While further strengthening operational capabilities on the western front, the Army will also enhance its “punitive response options to greater depth, effect, sophistication and precision”.

In terms of conventional war, the Army will strive to achieve integrated planning and conduct of “networked theatre battles” through synergized application of land, air and maritime components. “All combat operations will be as IBGs,” it says.

The Army brass has already given the go-ahead for IBGs or integrated composite brigades, with five to six battalions each and a mix of infantry, armoured, artillery, air defence, signals and engineers, backed by attack helicopters, under the command of major-generals.

The Army currently has 14 corps (led by lieutenant-generals) and 49 divisions (major-generals) under its six operational commands. Each division has three brigades, which in turn have three battalions each. “The IBGs, to be test-bedded in field exercises, will be self-contained, highly mobile and flexible,” said a senior officer.

The doctrine, in turn, states the “response along the western front will be sharp and swift with the aim to destroy the adversary’s centre of gravity and secure spatial gains.” In the event of a collusive China-Pakistan threat, the primary front will be dealt with “all the resources in our arsenal” and “a strong strategic defensive balance will be maintained” along the secondary front.

Dwelling upon “human-machine teaming”, it says: “At the core of our future military planning will be the effective integration of soldiers, AI and robotics into war-fighting systems that exploit existing capabilities for success in battle.”

“Development of micro satellites, lighter and greater capacity transponders, manoeuvrable and intelligent outer space satellites, with short life spans which can be launched on demand, will be the essential future requirements for the Army,” it adds.

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