Invisible Wars: Warfare Moves to a New Dimension

While the world now is grappling with the Covid-19, it is now emerging that it might not be a natural phenomenon. Accusing fingers are being raised at China and USA, the contesting world powers.


7 min read

Invisible Wars: Warfare Moves to a New Dimension

Democratic armies can not win wars without popular support, a consensus behind them. But crises could now arise faster than consensus could form— “Alvin Toffler & Heidi Toffler in “War and Anti- War”

The global crisis of Corona virus of 2019-20 prove as to how prophetic were the authors of  the book, “War And Anti War,” published in 1993. Health care and economic blood bath not only in USA and EU but entire world, bring out the basic flaws of democracies to cope with crisis created by invisible enemy. This enemy has been attacking them for months but they fiddled, like proverbial Nero, while Rome was burning.

While the world now is grappling with the Covid-19, it is now emerging that it might not be a natural phenomenon. Accusing fingers are being raised at China and USA, the contesting world powers. It is immaterial,  now,  as to who developed it. The very fact is obvious that it has dangerous but varied applications, to include such disciplines as social, political, economical, health care and military.

What is more dangerous is the use of Corona virus as a Biological weapon. Over more than two months China had kept its spread under wraps. It is alleged too that Wuhan virus might have been deliberately, leaked, controlled and tested for its efficacy. It is known fact that Wuhan city has a large biological laboratory. And China might have decided to test its efficacy in Wuhan first. Such a suspicion is not unfounded, if one analyses the spread of Corona in the Hubei province of China. It was particularly kept confined to Wuhan city , boasting of more than 11 million population.

Surprisingly, it did not spread as wide and fast in rest of China, as it did in the rest of the world. It might be noted that corona Virus travelled entire world from Wuhan but it did not reach Beijing and Shanghai. Though,  in a muted manner, China blames USA for bringing it to Wuhan city the world Military games held there in October 2019. Some 300 US soldiers had participated in the games. But it is unauthenticated and remains a wild conjecture.

All said and done, accusing finger is  raised towards China. It is certain that exponential spread through community transmission  of the virus was known to China and that is why it enforced total lock down of Wuhan and Hubei province.  Assumption is that China had known the virus and its remedy. Besides, it was not only in a position to control its spread but also effectively treat it. China claimed to have used Anti- Malaria drug (Chloroquine) to treat it. Therefore out of around  81,000 infected patients, over 69,000/- had recovered. Only 3200 / deaths had taken place, which is peanuts for a nation of 150 Crores. These accusations are not unsubstantiated.

It was interesting to note its exponential spread, world wide via community transmission. What was more lethal was its incubation period of 14 days. It further proves that China knew about its incubation period and it adopted harsh measures immediately. While China contained through lock down, incubation helped its fast spread through Chinese carriers to various countries. It is known that the  infected persons roamed freely amongst their acquaintances. They interacted with wide range of people. It was thus transmitted to potential patients through a mere touch by an infected person.

The virus attacked people with poor immunity. Those above 55 years were considered its main victims. To say the least, Corona virus may be tip of the iceberg. Much more dangerous viruses might be under development in various biological laboratories of China, USA and other belligerent nations.
What are the military implications of such a bio- weapon? Its use in military conflicts is a game changer. First impression is that it was more dangerous than the nuclear weapons.

Precisely speaking , it has turned military conflicts upset down. Wars are now graduating from “Indirect mode” to “ Invisible Mode.” In other words “Brute Force wars” of 19th and 20th centuries are now giving way to “Brain Force Wars.”
It is important to understand that warfare from the days of Clausewitz, has undergone tremendous changes. He had rightly observed that war in every period has its own doctrine and weapons.

War making strategies and methods keep evolving as weapons systems evolve themselves. It is important to grasp that no nation can afford to fight a future war on yesterday’s template and weapons.

Wars and war strategies have evolved themselves from direct to indirect approach over the known history of human conflicts . Both direct and indirect approaches believed in the use of  “Brute Force,” whether it was massed human assaults or Concentrated punch of armoured formation or even massive gun fire. Use of tanks , air attacks, nuclear strikes all were “Brute Force Multiplies.”

Brawn or the Brute Force , in the form of massive numbers of human soldiers , tanks, guns, aircrafts, Ships destroyers and evening nukes, was often touted as agents of victory. Then came smart weapons and smart soldiers in the form of drones and missiles — heralding an era of Smart wars —— manpower heavy Army of Iraq fell like  nine pins in matters of 100 hours in second Gulf war.

Thereafter weight shifted to “Semi - invisible wars” like Proxy wars by Irregular soldiers (Terrorists and insurgents ). It gave tough time to even most powerful and smartest army of USA. And now we are slowly getting into INVISIBLE MODE .
After the Soviet Union occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, direct approach gave way to indirect approach, due to deadly lethality of WMDs (weapons of Mass destructions).

Nuclear weapons shifted the weight to  WOM “War by Other Means.” Terrorists and Insurgents were used as “Irregular Soldiers." However, it is during the Afghan war only that era of  EIA (Extreme Indirect Approach) had emerged. Smart weapons and smart soldiers took on the “Irregular Soldiers.” Drones and Missiles began to rule the roost. Technology driven weapon became matter of pride for most armies. Second Gulf war proved that in the new military conflicts, Quality mattered over Quantity. Still, it was the “Brute Force” which realised the outcome of a military conflict.

But over the last year and a half, military conflicts or war making is shifting from “Indirect” to “Invisible” approach, though its precursor was attack on world Trade Towers in 2001. We saw its refined versions in 2019, when Saudi Oil fields were attacked by unknown  missiles, though USA claims it was Iran. Anyway, anti - Missile system, Patriot of USA could not detect or defend it. Same thing happened, when in 2019, Iran fires two missiles on US bases in Iraq. USA shied away from further escalation.

This gave the idea to China as to how to defeat technologically and militarily superior USA and West. Corona is the product of this invisible approach. Alvin Toffler rightly observes in his “War and Anti war” that US army had to change its orientation from “Space” to orientation towards “Time.” This was way back in 1993. They have still not moved with time. This is the bane of all democratic armies.
Wars are no more for gaining hard assets or territorial gains through “Brute Force” by using direct or indirect approaches.

The war in 21st century seeks total annihilation of your enemy by adopting “invisible” approach. Corona virus is the Chinese answer to Trade war launched by USA on China. It also corroborates Chinese YIN- YANG theory — within strength lay weakness and within weakness lay strength. It is furtherance of its doctrine of "Unrestricted warfare” China has been espousing for over two decades.
From Brute Force wars, we are shifting to Brain Force wars —— NO FRONTS; NO REARS. War is no more an appendage of Brute Force like Nukes or deadly missiles and drones —it is now going to be in the grip of silent weapons, like Corona or other such more lethal agents.

Corona might be a primitive bio weapon—as reports emerge of viruses that can pierce your locked doors and houses  in a given geographical area. Such customised DESIGNER WARS are likely to dominate the globe in the near future. Corona might be game changer of all polemics. Such customised wars do not need soldiers, both regular or irregular, monkey dancing across the borders in their fancy armoured vehicles or air ships. Artillery guns can not counter these invisible weapons nor air bombardment can destroy them . Aircraft carriers with deadly weaponry would become dysfunctional when bio-weapon hits them. They would be a flotilla of dead bodies.

Such customised but invisible wars would demand , an array of customised soldiers, such as doctors, health care workers, microbiologists, research laboratories workers, medicine retailers, media and information warriors, panic controllers. It is not to say that soldiers in Oliver green would become redundant. But they have a reduced roles in such a war.

Emergence of Bio-Weapons would  render erstwhile instruments of waging war as “white Elephants.” Any further investment would prove futile as all human operated machines and weapons would become fatalities of Bio- weapons as such turned redundant. Invest more on biological research laboratories, health care, medicines and information analysts. Defence expenditure must give priorities to SWARM technology, LASER, MISSILES, DRONES and SATELLITES in the intermediate period. In times to come , space would become the launching pad of such invisible weapons.

To customise and design the invisible war , use of space would become very important. Satellites launch pads will shoot viruses over a selected geographical area. Laser bursts too would play important role  in eliminating adversaries. Invisibility of the future weapons is  not only inevitable but it will make a paradigm shift in the way enemy and allies would be determined. Democracies would always be gripping in the dark to make appropriate choice.

In conclusion, one would say that military strategy and needed weaponry to conduct war, flow out of political and economic objectives. But there is a difference here. While democratic nations work out their military strategies for political and economic objectives, based on available technology, the totalitarian nations first work out military strategy and then develop technology to suit the strategy. China, taking into considerations, its handicaps and compulsions, evolved “Invisible Approach,” laced with “Invisible Weapons."

Corona virus is therefore a fore- runner of silent killer. Democratic world would have to understand this. To quote Alvin Toffler, “If war was ever too important to be left to Generals, it is now too important to be left to the ignorant — whether in or out of uniform.” More than military leaders, Political, economic and social leaders have to grasp the nuisance of “Invisible Wars.”

Colonel Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into the 3 Bihar Regiment in June 1971 and was the Commanding Officer of same unit in insurgency environs in Assam between 1990-93. Has vast experience in CI Ops from North East to Punjab and J&K and has held distinct appointments. He is a prolific writer-cum-critic on defence and security matters and a regular contributor at the renowned 'Fauji India' magazine. He has authored the book, 'Kashmir: A Different Perspective.' His second book on Assam, 'The ULFA Insurgency' was published in April 2018. His third book of short stories, 'Life in My Times,' containing tit bits on militancy and terrorism, is scheduled for release in March 2020. You may read Col. Kushwaha's further work at: https://faujiindia.in

The views expressed are the authors own and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'The Watchdog News'


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