Icons of 20th Century Warfare on Way out, Says Army Chief

Indian Army

New Delhi: The future battle winning factor would be technological superiority rather than numerical equivalence, said Army Chief General MM Naravane on March 4 stressing that the character of warfare was changing with icons of the 20th-century warfare like large main battle tanks and fighter aircraft being on their way out.

“Icons of the 20th-century warfare like large main battle tanks and fighter aircraft are on their way out,” he said while addressing an event.

The Army Chief pointed out that the last large tank battle, one in which large armoured formations of two armies, manoeuvred against each other supported by artillery and air forces, took place in the 1973 Arab-Israel war on the Golan Heights in the deserts of Sinai.

“In the five odd decades since – in Iraq, Lebanon, Georgia, Chechnya and Syria, armoured formations have either followed or supported the application of airpower and artillery, or else their units and sub-units have been committed in smaller tactical groupings as part of infantry – armour assaults in urban terrain,” the Army Chief said.

“During the war in the Donbass, a single-fire mission by Russian artillery destroyed two Ukranian mechanised battalions in a few minutes in what became known as the ‘Battle of Zelenopillya’,” he added.

Referring to Arthashastra by Kautilya, the Army Chief said great strategic wisdom is contained within India’s own ancient texts.

General Naravane said, “We have possibly entered the era of ‘contested equality’, wherein technology will make unequals, equal. Perhaps that is already happening — the battle wining factor in future combat may not be numerical equivalence but technological superiority.”

“Brick and mortar military structures and capacities, will perhaps matter less; technological capacities in enabling domains like AI (artificial intelligence) and cyber will decisively tip the military balance,” he said.

“The Army is embracing low-hang technologies and inducting them with speed into our units and formations.

“The military leveraging of emerging, disruptive domains is also receiving our concerted attention. Capacities in space, cyber and electronic warfare, similarly, are being given a boost. We are also looking at tapping blockchain technologies, lasers and directed energy weapons for possible military use,” he said.