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Friday, December 14, 2018

Innovation in Indian Defence

(An abridged version of this post has been published at Indian Defence Industries and can be accessed HERE)


“Battle Scene in Year 2020” was perhaps the first national workshop of its kind held in February 1998 at Delhi that invited experts from armed forces, paramilitary and defence R&D to discuss geopolitical scenarios and technological change and impact on military evolution. A book was published on the proceedings. The author of this article participated as a Scientist from DRDO and also contributed few papers. In the context setting talk at the start of the Workshop, Dr Kalam, said and I quote from the book that has the proceedings, “We now have a plan of self-reliance in defence systems approved by the government. The present 30%-40% of self-reliance has to be improved to about 70% in the next five years.”  20 years down, in 2018, we still are talking about 70% import and need for self-reliance in defence. Please see recent article by Ex-Deputy NSA of India, Mr. Arvind Gupta. He says, The past experience shows that achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing remains an elusive goal. India continues to import 70 percent of its defence equipment.”  

Is the question of why the so-called self-reliance percentage has remained static at 30% for defence equipment for last 20 years important? 

Of course, one can quibble about relative percentages on specific defence systems including Missiles (strategic and tactical), Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Main Battle Tank Arjun, etc. Yet, it is imperative that India should not only ask this question but also create an actionable response and as Mr Gupta pointed out a “Roadmap” to complement the new defence policy.  

Innovation in Military Affairs

We define innovation to be “successful creation of needed change through ideas”. This of course requires understanding and defining what “change” is “needed” and of course how to evaluate that change process has been successful. Above all innovation need ideas. And until we create an Idea vending machine, unfortunately, we must depend for ideas on Human minds which has thoughts that brings in genesis of change. There are 5 different paths to innovation as we have found. They can be initiated by, (1) Imagining the Next (2) Transforming the existing systems (3) Solving key problems (4) Fulfilling articulated and unarticulated user/customer needs through user insights and finally (5) Developing technology foresight to utilize the advances in science and technology for creating the needed change successfully. Since ideas come to human minds, we need to involve and maximize the number of primed, trained and practicing human minds for generation of ideas.  In effect, if one allows more minds (quantity) to be exposed to the potential five paths of innovation and also allow them to ideate, explore creatively and utilize their experiments into produce of change, then only we can not only harness the existing potential but in fact evolve and expand the potential of the nation. There is need to create more innovation crafters

Military change, world over, has seen various initiatives such as (a) through technology focused evolution, (b) using technology change to create new operational, organizational and doctrinal concepts, (c) juxtaposing military change as the change in overall world affairs including Diplomatic, Informational, Military and Economic (called DIME) and (d) relatively newer concept of Military Transformation (MT). The MT is considered as a continuous and ongoing process to create major changes or improvements without any specific rigid end-goal through a continuous process of adaptation, creative exploration, experimentation and learning. 

Interestingly though, the USA – the sole superpower since 1991, and a major proponent of Military Transformation has seen significantly lower military transformation compared to China and Russia, between 1992-2010 according to an interesting paper describing a Military Transformation Index.  It may be an interesting exercise to see how much military transformation India defence forces have seen on the proposed model. The model for evaluating military transformation Index proposes 4 transformation dimensions – (a) Organizational Structure (b) Personnel (c) Weapon Systems and (d) Defence Expenditure.  Indian army recently proposed a Brigade+ based organization compared to Divisions based organization. The MT Index or transformation does describe this trend to be seen everywhere – USA called it Modularity. Indian Army did experiment with RAPIDS and RAMIDS in 1980s – the mechanization of infantry by General Sundarji was perhaps real organizational innovation as also announcement of Mountain Strike Corps, although it was not clear how it will evolve on the ground. 

The changes being seen in the evolution of warfare and security dimensions need to be studied. Historically it is clear that character of war keeps on changing through newer technologies, doctrines and organizational structures. However, we are seeing in this century an evolution of warfare from unrestricted warfare to hybrid warfare and the multi-dimensional warfare

Comprehensive Action Plan – Continuous Military Innovation
India need a comprehensive action plan for multi-dimensional continuous military innovation. And time is ripe that this action plan should be based on real assessment of existing capabilities, potential current and future conflicts, comprehensive review of national power and multi-dimensional forays into five paths of innovation using maximum number of minds available for such creative explorations. We propose following elements of such a comprehensive Action Plan.

(a) Comprehensive identification and articulation of India’s National Interests – what are our permanent National Interests
(b) India should become a Robust Nation that combines the elements of adapting to change and creating and designing change simultaneously
(c) Define the Indian Defence forces for the Sixth Wave of Innovation for the years 2020-2045. This wave as we describe will be driven by (i) Networked, Autonomous, Nano and Hypersonic things, (ii) Algorithmic Intelligence (Not Artificial Intelligence) and Quantum Computing and (iii) Synthesis of Biology, Energy and Reality.
(d) Create a comprehensive Conventional Prompt Regional Strike (CPRS) and Conventional Prompt Global Defence (CPRD) Framework for India. Similarly define clear future missions in the 15 dimensions warfare and for the Sixth Wave of innovation. Use these mission mode frameworks to create technological challenges and allow a small teams of entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers to work in incubation hubs with a time bound tenures that can be hived of as future companies owned by the members.
(e) Focus on creating the next Revolutions in Military Affairs through original conceptualization. Software based RMA and Military Transformations are the key.
(f) A new organization or a new Ministry of Future to evolve India to future through a foresight, design and innovation driven approach involving all sectors – public, private, academia and various science and technology organizations and think tanks need to work together through a mechanism that needs a transparent and well defined protocol to be established.
(g) The mission mode projects/initiatives should emerge from identified Key Missions to create Doctrine, Organization, Technology and Strategy (DOTS)

India need to create DOTS for following missions

Modularity of Army – Brigade, Integrated Battlefield Group and Division – what should be the unit of fighting for next 25 years for Indian defence forces

Conventional Prompt Regional Strike and Defence system Using Hypersonic weapons

An integrated and joint logistics support system for the defence forces has been long in demand. For example see

C5ISR = C4ISR + Combat Systems
Traditional approach of separating combat systems from combat support systems must be relooked in the new integrated/networked system of systems – or what is being termed as the C5ISR – the fifth C is the combat systems.  The Rand report on the recent Afghanistan Mission Network (AMN) states key lessons learned from the development and evolution of the AMN). It states “The AMN began as a network for facilitating fairly commonplace human-to-human exchanges … Over time, it evolved to become the primary C5ISR system in Afghanistan”

BMD/ASAT/Anti-TNW – for the Strike Force
The Indian Strike Force faces a de-capacitating threat at the start of any war – a preemptive elimination through cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, or even a tactical nuclear weapon. A question is how to design a strike force that can withstand a pre-emptive strike and still perform its function. On obvious conceptual framework is to keep it in a diffused state so that it is not visible in the initial stages of the war. This will require modularity, comprehensive C4ISR integration with the strike force and reinforced integrated logistics support system. 

Responding to China
Responding to a comprehensive, controlled and integrated Chinese assertiveness backed by a unilateral posturing and meddling in multiple dimensions – economic, geopolitical, military, and foreign relations. 

Responding to Pakistan
Creating a credible, conventional, rapidly executable response against Pakistan that is feasible and effective under the threat of nuclear war constraints and especially the use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNW) using NASR and recently acquired SH-15 Howitzers from china

Information, Asymmetric, Hybrid and Multi-dimensional Warfare
Understanding, developing and creating - infrastructure, capability and response to the disruptive nature of information war

Maritime security and continuing to be the Net Security Provider in IOR and further
Maritime capability and response for the high seas in a rising China and declining US world

Self-reliance in defence has been a worthy goal for India for many decades. Unfortunately, it has remained unfulfilled. Innovation in defence is the key call for action. Our hypothesis is that we have remained self-unreliant in defence because our military doctrine, technology roadmap and mission profile of the future has either remained in the past or has been borrowed from others. A true response requires a multi-dimensional action plan invoking the changing and expanding nature of warfare, planning to respond and leverage the upcoming sixth wave of innovation and defining the new Indian military for the sixth wave of Innovation and 15 dimensional warfare. Using these through specific organization structures, mechanisms and protocols to involve as many minds as India can to develop specific missions and creating doctrine, organization, technology and strategy to fulfill those missions.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Khashoggi Murder, Crash of IL-20, Skripal Poisoning, and Stuxnet - DEADLY Targets of Multi-Dimensional Warfare

 {**** This post has now been published at Indian Defence Review as  "

DEADLY Targets of Multi-Dimensional Warfare

DEADLY Targets of Multi-Dimensional Warfare

DEADLY Targets of Multi-Dimensional Warfare

Khashoggi Murder, Crash of IL-20, Skripal Poisoning, and Stuxnet - DEADLY Targets of Multi-Dimensional Warfare

Jamal Khashoggi's death in a fight in Saudi consulate in Istanbul as claimed by Saudi public prosecutor surfaces a new set of criteria of “targeting” in the multi-dimensional warfare that each state is getting involved in. The boundaries of wars of different types, even if earlier they were blurred, have now become a full spectrum continuum where governments of all hues and colors view war as permanent – arguably, a markedly Orwellian world has emerged - though the dimensions of the war may vary from time to time.  We have identified 15 dimensions of this multi-dimensional warfare earlier. (Please also see Indian Defence Review, July-September 2018, “War as a Multi-Dimensional Whole: A Framework for India in a Repolarizing World”). 

As we know every war has targets to be eliminated/destroyed. At the basic war planning level, elimination of the identified targets is the way to prosecute war. The Clausewitz’s invariant “nature of warfare” is violent – destroying the enemy’s capability to wage its own war, its assets and in fact its will to fight.  The characteristics of war change or evolve from time to time but its nature does not change. One of the key characteristics of war is the type and targets that need to be eliminated and destroyed to achieve the goal. In the new 15-Dimensional Warfare, the state may have to wage a war against the influence-makers or key opinion leaders who may create ripple effects of encouraging the world and the citizens of the country to seek change from the current “state” or “deep state”. One can argue that such targets were always there and were eliminated in previous world of delineated war dimensions, however, the argument that the boundaries are blurring cannot be denied.

Khashoggi, Russian IL-20, Skripal Poisoning, and Stuxnet – The Targets of Multi-Dimensional Warfare

Jamal Khashoggi was a target of Saudi State may be for elimination, but for silencing is well established in the media reports. His last op-ed in Washington Post, he wrote, “Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate”. He was silenced, if the apple watch connected to his apple phone recording has to be believed, through an excruciating dismemberment in the consulate that is accepted as a fight by the Saudi and the US President has already tweeted the explanation as “credible”. One lesson of “targeting” in this new type of war by states and perhaps the most important parameter is how to build “Deniability” into the process of elimination or silencing of targets – be they individuals or war-making components.

In September 2018, in a most peculiar targeting and combat cunning if one may, Israeli fighter aircraft F-16s were accused of destroying a Russian IL-20 aircraft with 15 Russians on-board. In a remarkable choreography captured by S-400 Command radar mapping the firing of S-200 Missile against the Israeli F-16 and the cunning maneuver  by F-16 to lead the missile fired on itself to the IL-20 was presented by Russia after claims and counterclaims by both Israel and Russia.  Once again, the Israeli targeting was built on deniability. 


In March 2018, a Russian-British Spy and ex-Russian Military officer, Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned through a nerve agent as claimed by UK. Although both victims survived the attack but went through prolonged treatment. The UK suspected two Russian “tourists” who came specifically to UK to eliminate Sergei. This incident resulted in expulsions of diplomats from both sides. Russia, of course, denied the charges. 

About a decade back, “Stuxnet” computer virus reportedly disabled centrifuges in an Iranian uranium-enrichment plant. These were later considered as the handy work of US and Israel, although neither of them admitted.  A “worm” program designed by US and Israeli scientists to take control of the centrifuges at the Iranian plant and make the centrifuges speed very high or very low to disrupt the working the plant was successful till due to a programming error it escaped the controlled operation and was discovered. The Stuxnet is the first instance of state carrying out cyber-attack. It was built-in with “deniability”.

Office of Strategic Services (OSS) – a WWII organization that later evolved as Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of USA, developed a simple methodology for French field agents to identify targets for disruption. It was called CARVER – which is an acronym of Criticality, Accessibility, Recuperability, Vulnerability, Effect and Reconfigurability. This was also used by US special forces in Vietnam war. It has also developed into some sort of risk prioritization methodology as well. Most significant of the above six parameters considered were criticality and effect on goal.

For the 15-dimensional war (the 15-D war). we propose an evolution of the CARVER to a new set of parameters that include Deniability, Effectiveness, Accessibility, Destructability, Low Cost and Yield (high). The new targeting methodology for targeting in the 15D warfare is DEADLY. The DEADLY targeting framework selects those targets and methods that have high deniability. We define deniability as the ability to hide/shift/obfuscate the evidence of involvement of the attacking/sponsoring agency. Effectiveness is the probability of success in achieving desired effects while Accessibility is the ease of reaching the target. We also have added the Destructibility (level) desired and achievable of the target as one of the parameters of this framework. Next parameter is the Cost that should be as Low as possible but includes the political, combat/military cost and the economic cost in that order. And finally the expected Yield which should be high. The expected Yield is defined as produce of the targeting – something positive for combat/military, political and/or economic value.

The major shift from Criticality and Effects on the goal from the CARVER is the Deniability, Destructibility and Yield in the DEADLY matrix. The targeting matrix and methodology can be same.  Also, as CARVER has been used to strengthen friendly targets so that enemy need to do more to attack the friendly targets, DEADLY can also be used to strengthen friendly targets against potential attackers that are Deniable.

DEADLY requires technology-based innovation

As all the four cases cited above point out, the Deniability need to be countered for friendly targets and technology helped in all the cases. Whether it’s the command radar of S-400 in IL20 crash or Apple watch linked to Apple Phone or the use of cyberweapon in Stuxnet – technology proved critical. Further, technology alone will not suffice, it has to be enmeshed into a solution for the mission that aids deniability if you are attacking or it surfaces deniability while defending. That requires technology-based innovation. 

We propose DEADLY as the methodology for Targeting and Strengthening Friendly Targets in the multi-dimensional warfare continuum that we have today. Using DEADLY matrix one can devise technology-based innovative solutions for both – constructing deniable attacks and countering deniable threats.



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