National security and hybrid warfare | By Sobia Khursheed


National security and hybrid warfare

THE construct of national security in today’s world has transformed the ever changing dynamics of the globalized setting, instruments of military and policy cannot guarantee state security; instead, economic, cultural, social, moral, and environmental domains additionally got to be interlinked to confirm state survival within the difficult security environment.

In the international world system, the nature of international security and conflicts remains the same.

There is a perpetual competition of zero-sum military and economic gains in which armed conflicts remain inevitable.

Security dilemmas and balancing of power take place unremittingly, however, the modus operandi is no longer the same.

In the twenty-first century, conflicts are fought in innovative and radically different ways, the lethal or kinetic force is replaced by modern hybrid warfare.

The concept of hybrid warfare is not a very recent phenomenon, many practitioners believe that the concept is as old as human civilization or the concept of war itself.

Nevertheless, it has gained huge popularity and significant currency in recent years as more and more states employ non-state actors and information technology to subdue their adversarial states.

Hybrid warfare is a contested concept and there is no universally agreed definition of it, but it entails an interplay or fusion of conventional as well as unconventional instruments of power.

The modus operandi of hybrid warfare is complicated, its objectives may not be to the immediate defeat the adversary, but to erode its national morale, isolation, economic subversion, propaganda dissemination, polarization within the state before a conflict, deflect it from pursuing unacceptable military or political objectives, disruption in mainstream communication networks, the collapse of important infrastructure, manipulating command and control, delegitimize the government of the adversarial state, and compromise its leaders.

Owing to the lethality of modern-day military hardware, states are implying non-conventional methods to sabotage adversarial states.

With modernization and advanced globalization, the toolbox of waging hybrid warfare is rapidly expanding and becoming more sophisticated: for example, lethal autonomous weapons, multi-layer cyber programmes, social media, data mining, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things.

Now power rests with the people who control these devices. In the case of Pakistan, the term hybrid warfare has gained acceptability in the policy discourse but there is a greater need for mass awareness, especially among the youth of Pakistan.

They must understand the concept of shared identity and a sense of loyalty to the regime. There is a need for a holistic approach to counter the growing threat of hybrid warfare, increasing awareness about the lurking threats of hybrid warfare, and developing a comprehensive mechanism to counter the threats.

The purpose of the enemy of Pakistan is to target the vulnerable communities and deepened to create and exacerbate polarization that translates into perilous erosion of the core values of co-existence, harmony, and pluralism.

One must remember that hybrid warfare is a mixture of conventional and non-conventional warfare, therefore a nationwide response should also include improvising the operational capabilities of armed forces.

Adversarial states always exploit the existing ethnic, social, linguistic, cultural, economic, and sectarian fault lines in a country to achieve their own goal.

The nation should believe in and trust the national leadership and the capacity and capability of its institutions.

The state is responsible for catering to the needs of marginalized communities and addressing their grievances.

When people of a state are at peace with their state, when they have access to free quality education, fair and square meals, health facilities, water in taps, gas in pipelines, and a roof over their heads, they will not fall prey to the malicious agenda of others.

—The writer is Assistant Director-NUST Institute of Policy Studies (NIPS) and a former visiting lecturer at the National Defence University Islamabad.