The Russia-Ukraine war has reminded us that war is indeed a dirty business. It has not only impacted the two countries at war but has also had a huge impact on the global economy as well as supplies and prices of fuel and food staples. The war has also brought us into a sanctions regime, where a good portion of world fuel and food supplies are sanctioned and are being transported using dark fleet. Several critical ports and shipping channels such as Odessa and the Black Sea are being blockaded. And the war is far from over.
The war has also accelerated the polarisation of countries into different factions. Skirmishes at the China-India border and even small movements in the China-Taiwan region gets the entire world on tenterhooks. It does not help that several countries today are nuclear capable.
In fact, the winds of war have been blowing since towards Q3/Q4 2021 when it was starting to get clear that the initial rites leading to at least a localised war were afoot, due to political instigation and political gains or personal glory and aspirations or both.
I don’t think we should be poking a bear that will fight back, especially given our tension with China as well. It’s a great way for us to drive China and Russia into an alliance against the US. And I’m not quite sure if NATO can beat a combined Russia and China,— JC Teslovich (@johnycakes98) December 9, 2021
Hundreds of people, largely from the Middle East, camped at the Belarus-Poland border in frigid weather seeking to enter Poland. Belarus has pressured the West by orchestrating a refugee crisis at its borders with the European Union. https://t.co/bVNWQtUZka pic.twitter.com/BG1cZdUgds— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 9, 2021
181/ns #National #Security Probability of India-China war=22%. Probability can be reduced by building multi-level deterrence (see start of 🧵). Given the Strategic technology gap btwn us, #USA will be key to closing gap(nxt 15 yrs), complimented by #France, #Russia, #Japan, #UK. https://t.co/FsU9LdSMBr— Arvind Virmani (@dravirmani) October 15, 2021
My bold 2022 predictions:— Callum S (@SimpGanassi) December 30, 2021
-Boris is replaced as PM after the local government elections
-There’s a coup in Hungary, the EU does nothing
-Russia or China invaded Ukraine/Taiwan
-Prince Andrew is extradited to the US
-Lando Norris wins a Grand Prix before George Russell
Today, regions such as the South China Sea and Indian Ocean are a few of the most sensitive spots in the world. These are in addition to hot spots such as Syria, Yemen, Palestine where conflicts spark quite regularly.
Multiple countries such as Poland, the Czech and other EU countries, South Korea, Malaysia, India and Australia which are either in or around these epicenters, are increasing their defense spending and tightening their defenses, in what seems preparations for the worst eventuality.
Many alliances, such as the Quad and Aukus, have also been formed in order to unitedly prepare, share intel to preempt and ultimately defend against such eventualities.
Moreover, modern warfare is not just kinetic warfare fought by our armies in far off battlefields, but it is being fought continuously in our backyards, in our cities and our media alike, and is multi-pronged such as financial, internet and media misinformation and propaganda, chemical, biological, radiological, psychological, cyber warfare, asymmetric warfare and any form of sabotage by field agents on essential services or supply chains.
“All warfare is based on deception. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” - Sun Tzu, Art of War
New tech is already being introduced in defense such as advanced drones and lasers, bionic and super soldiers, hypersonic, quantum computing all underpinned by AI.
National security concerns quickly spread to multiple business and trade areas such as telecom and networking, security systems and automation of essential services and homes, social media and finance. Being connected, usually a boon, becomes a bane in dire circumstances.
The Russia-Ukraine war and political and financial instability in nuclear capable countries such as Pakistan also raise the risk of a nuclear and/or chemical misadventure or accident. This necessitates investments and drills in alerting systems and preparedness for such disasters.
The risk of polarisation and silos, and trade wars, pandemic and war created spare parts supply chain issues, is also resulting in an increased focus on indigenous development of defense equipment in countries such as India which traditionally have been major importers of defense equipment.
Several countries are also altering the processes of army recruitment including short term recruitment, minimum or maximum enlistment age and mandatory military service and drafting rules.
Let us get a little deeper on a few of these topics …
Cyberattacks through the Russia-Ukraine war timeline
During the Russia-Ukraine war, there have been strong rumours of cyberattacks not only in Russia and Ukraine but also on the US and rest of Europe. It is alleged that Russia launched over 2000 cyberattacks on Ukraine in 2022.
At one point the US Fed had issued an official cyber attack warning to its ports and critical utilities and food warehouses, warning them to tighten their cyber defenses.
Mar 21: Feds reiterate warning of potential malicious Russian cyber activity. Russia’s top bank warns of malware-laden #protestware.— Dawood Sajjadi #OpIran (@5tuxnet) April 3, 2022
Mar 24: U.S. intel analysts say Russia was behind #Viasat cyberattack.
Mar 25: U.S., UK charge 4 Russian officials with critical infra hacking.8/9
After failures in its physical-world warfare strategy, Moscow has launched a massive and constant cyber offensive on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure the likes of which the world has never seen.@jeremybob1 reports:#Russia | #Ukraine https://t.co/Tp9GCVMGtT— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) January 12, 2023
The head of U.S. Cyber Command also acknowledged that the U.S. sent offensive cyber forces to Ukraine and launched cyberattacks on Russia.— Julie Thomas (@JulieTh63439315) January 16, 2023
Allegations of chemical warfare during Russia-Ukraine war
There have been allegations from both sides that chemical weapons have been used at different points in the Russia-Ukraine war.
1.— the Lemniscat (@theLemniscat) January 13, 2023
Are Ukrainian forces using chemical weapons in Donetsk?
A new video has appeared confirming that chemical munitions are being prepared for drones by Ukrainian militants.
(via https://t.co/Y4Uqr6EgMuhttps://t.co/sPHDlprgV6)#Ukraine #Russia pic.twitter.com/8bLoHjv7Sa
Defense expenditure is rising globally
One industry that seems to be defying the economic downturn and pandemic is the defense industry. Defense expenditure across the world is rising. Countries are plugging any vulnerabilities and holes they might have in their army, naval or air force. Investments in traditional equipment such as fighter planes, helicopters, missiles, aircraft carriers and submarines as well as military intelligence is rising as is in modern warfare tools such as drones and counter-drone missiles, cyber defense.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey #Shoigu announced on January 17 that he will implement Russian President Vladimir #Putin’s directive to conduct large-scale military reforms between 2023-2026 to expand #Russia’s conventional armed forces.https://t.co/nGf4QZDRhc pic.twitter.com/uocwUZCzMh— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) January 18, 2023
Here is a few defense investments & purchases in the works, since start of 2023 alone!
“Defence Minister Anita Anand announced Monday the purchase of the 88 U.S. built F-35 stealth fighter jets, valued at $19 billion.”— Laconicon (@categuerrical) January 16, 2023
“Canada will buy the U.S.-built F-35 stealth fighter in a project that will cost $70 billion over the life of the planes.”
Indian Defence Council approved ₹4,276 crores in defence purchases for Army.— News Presso (@news_presso_) January 11, 2023
Read more: https://t.co/X9vzAnsTQh#INDIAN #ARMY #DEFENCE #NAVY #PROCUREMENT #COUNCIL #AGREEMENT #PROPOSL #NECESSITIES #TANK #MISSILES #LAUNCHER #HELICOPTER #NEWS #TN #INDIA pic.twitter.com/ASDb0MNdPV
According to #Forbes;#Azerbaijan may purchase the JF-17 Thunder fighter jointly developed by #China and #Pakistan, which it has been eyeing for years, instead of opting for additional purchases of #Russian fighters. Plane that is worth its price. pic.twitter.com/GwUSmdFE6B— International Defence Analysis (@Defence_IDA) January 14, 2023
Debates around defense spending are being conducted in many countries such as the UK, some vote for higher spending considering the geopolitical climate, while others are criticising the “wasteful” spending on defense, as opposed to green energy, tax relief and other initiatives, especially given those very countries and its citizens are also going through severe financial troubles and are also at a risk of losing their energy and food security.
Morning Lee,— Matt Chuter (@matty_downunder) January 9, 2023
The issue I'd be raising is the Defence budget, given the war in 🇺🇦
The Government still intends to cut 9,000 troops from the British Army, and the MoD doesn't have enough £ to pay for its planned equipment purchases according to the NAO - A new plan is needed.
The frequency of war exercises and mock drills has also increased.
21st edition of the India-France naval exercise #Varuna kicks off on the Western Seaboard. French Navy represented by aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, frigates FS Forbin and Provence, support vessel FS Marne and maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique. File photo pic.twitter.com/3rKQzMi5TJ— Rajat Pandit (@rajatpTOI) January 16, 2023
Allied countries are also spending on financing, training and equipping Ukraine to stay competitive in the continued war with Russia. Russia itself also stands a chance of emptying its own coffers on the war and going bankrupt and has come close several times to defaulting on its sovereign debt payments. As they say in war, there are often no winners and losers.
📣#BREAKING - #JEDINews🌎— 🦅JEDI🇺🇸 (@MoCooray) January 10, 2023
TRUDEAU SELLS OUT CANADA
⚠️🇨🇦 purchases 🇺🇸 defence system for 🇺🇦
📣GET RID OF TRUDEAU! @CanadianPM HARMING CANADIANS FOR POPULARITY@CanadianPress #SenCa #CDNhealth #CDNmedia #CDNpoli #ONpoli #ABpoli #SKpoli #MBpoli #BCpoli #NSpoli #NBpoli #Trudeau
Good to see our soldiers deploying on this mission. And knowing their Commanding Officer, they will be a professional, tough, knowledgeable and adaptive team. Every little bit of assistance to #Ukraine helps. Good luck to you all. https://t.co/sASNWPHaIS— Mick Ryan, AM (@WarintheFuture) January 17, 2023
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is being goaded to help Ukraine get Germany’s best-in-class Leopard 2 tanks in anticipation of a possible Russian spring offensive.— POLITICOEurope (@POLITICOEurope) January 19, 2023
But Berlin is waiting for the US to move first — which isn’t happening. https://t.co/Zp12UX3QcV
Many new ideas are being utilised for military recruitment. The US seems to be utilising social influencing to attract talent, while India’s Agniveer scheme which utilises the short term service idea has been met with mixed reactions. Changing demographics of several countries such as China and Japan, is also causing challenges in entry level military recruitment.
From Autobiography of Gen Harbakhsh Singh, GOC in C, West-com during 1965 war. His thoughts penned down over a quarter century ago are being implemented today. Perhaps someone read this book and Agniveer was born. Interesting to note. Hope the Experiment works for the Army! pic.twitter.com/fNyaEP91k9— Major Mathews Thekkedath (@MajorMathews) January 17, 2023
The Quad (or Indo-Pacific Quadrilateral Dialogue), is a multilateral dialogue between Australia, India, Japan and the United States that got going, amidst great fanfare, in around 2007. The diplomatic and military arrangement has been widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic, military and maritime power. It has ebbed and flowed through the past few years. It has had its moments, such as the annual joint naval exercise called Exercise Malabar, the 2022 edition of which was held in Nov 2022. The Quad also had held a Quad Plus meeting that included representatives from South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam when the Covid pandemic had peaked. The Quad has also warmed up the channels and opportunities for improved economic collaboration, tech exchanges and trade agreements (e.g. Free Trade Agreement or FTA) between these countries.
During Exercise Malabar 2022, the Japanese fleet support vessel JS Oumi (centre) conducts a dual Replenishment-at-Sea with the Australian frigate HMAS Arunta (left) and American destroyer USS Milius. Photo: LSIS Susan Mossop/RAN. pic.twitter.com/bOGmEU6vOy— Warships IFR (@WarshipsIFR) November 20, 2022
Aukus, is a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, announced on 15 September 2021 for the Indo-Pacific region. Under the pact, the US and the UK will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. There are then other areas of cooperation such as AI, cyber defense, quantum, hypersonic. Canada seems to be interested as well. The French are not very happy with this pact, as it led to the cancellation of a huge French-Australian submarine deal.
People who have seen the recent movie Top Gun Maverick would have gotten a fictional taste of hypersonic flight, which goes above Mach 5. Several hypersonic defense equipment is being rolled out, some of which i.e. Russian Kinzhal missiles are alleged to have been used in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Hypersonic missiles are also being called HGV or Hypersonic Glide Vehicles. China and US are aggressively testing their tech and close to battle ready. A few other countries such as India, Japan, Australia, France, Germany and North Korea are also in test stage. Early forms of 6G Wifi tech is being used for communicating with hypersonic missiles. Anti-hypersonic defense systems, which are the counter to hypersonic missiles and aircrafts, are also being developed, mostly using laser tech.
🚨 Russian Mig-31K capable of carrying Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missile with a range of 2000km at speed of Mach 12 took off in #Belarus. The entire territory of #Ukraine is under air raid alert. Ukraine does not have the capability to intercept this weapon. pic.twitter.com/pu6Tou80Na— Igor Sushko (@igorsushko) January 19, 2023
Medvedev announced: Russia is sending a ship carrying hypersonic missiles 'Zircon' 200 km away from River Potomac, Washington DC.— Tatiana Vajrayana (@TVajrayana) January 11, 2023
Considering Zircon's speed- 3km/second, can reach Washington in 2 min, can be nuclear & is indestructible -it's like putting a barrel to one's temple pic.twitter.com/GvnRLYgaAc
Researchers at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China have tapped into the bandwidth used by Wi-Fi devices to communicate with hypersonic weapons.— Interesting Engineering (@IntEngineering) January 19, 2023
Find out more at https://t.co/5y7uJrrhcZ 🚀#engineering #interestingengineering pic.twitter.com/hKusjUsrPk
Chinese lessons from Ukraine: Chinese strategists study Russia's use of the hypersonic Kinzhal air-launched missile. Jianchuan Zhishi-China, 12.22. Hypersonic weaponry would likely play a significant role in a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. pic.twitter.com/3UNo0SsntF— Lyle Goldstein (@lylegoldstein) January 17, 2023
Hypersonic tech also makes previous tech obsolete in a matter of months.
With China having tested FOBS/HGV & with PLA on our territory since May 2020 rubbishing our so-called nukes deterrence, we should review our entire nuclear policy- including Agni 5 missile which we just test-fired.— Pravin Sawhney (@PravinSawhney) October 28, 2021
India’s nukes deterrence has failed - against China - the truth!
Asymmetrical warfare, unconventional strategies and tactics adopted by a force when the military capabilities of belligerent powers are not simply unequal but are so significantly different that they cannot make the same sorts of attacks on each other. - Britannica
It is alleged that Ukraine is able to hold its own in the war with Russia despite the Russian might because of its art of asymmetric warfare, and use of tech such as drones and Starlink communication.
Just like every new virus and mutation needs a new vaccine, these threats also need to be intercepted and countered, which leads to another set of new technology to be developed, such as the use of electromagnetism and lasers backed by quantum computing for making complex decisions at 1/10th or 1/100th of the time.
Ukraine has successfully demonstrated how militaries using gen-purpose emerging tech like AI is democratizing warfare - permitting civilian institutions and individuals to take an active role in defense. My latest in @ForeignAffairs https://t.co/biBOA3Os7o— Lauren Kahn (@Lauren_A_Kahn) August 29, 2022
1. Russia is fighting in Ukraine with a high-tech NATO army.— Victor vicktop55 (@vicktop555) January 19, 2023
A downed Ukrainian multicopter equipped with a Starlink antenna for moving vehicles, which allows you to control it from anywhere in the world (here's such a mini-Reaper). Starlink, in its current form, allows for a pic.twitter.com/A4OdQ9JcHd
When you're a drone expert it's only natural you become an expert in defending against drones as well.— Yusuf Erim (@YusufErim34) December 26, 2022
Meet the Turkish defense industry's latest offering by Rocketsan - ALKA a directed energy weapon system that uses electromagnetic and laser tech against asymmetric threats. pic.twitter.com/j2JM0mcPxm
russia’s most advanced&capable alleged „super tank“ MBT - T90M with an allegedly elaborate armor and and active&passive defensive systems & detection has been turned into scrap by a single shot&hit of a low-grade SMAW-type infantry weapon, https://t.co/BU7NaaNMk9— BRDigung (@DigungBr) January 19, 2023
Quantum Computing in Defense
Just like in industries such as cryptography, healthcare and finance, quantum computing is the next frontier in defense as well, where it is being used to make complex decisions much quicker with a lot more precision. This could be as an example, to precisely manoeuvre hypersonic missiles, or track their trajectories and intercept them i.e. in hypersonic defense solutions. Quantum computing can also be used to crack encrypted data due to the immense computing power at its disposal. As mentioned before, every new virus needs a vaccine, quantum cyber attacks need to be defended against by tech such as post-quantum cryptography.
PA Consulting has collaborated with DSTL to apply quantum computing to decision making in defense operations. The aim is to improve decision making in complex environments using quantum principles#QuantumComputinghttps://t.co/GC0sKPweuU pic.twitter.com/xM30Eg8RdE— QubitValue (@QubitValue) January 17, 2023
A few Ukrainian soldiers who had lost their arms in war are getting advanced prosthetic limbs. Is the age of the bionic super-soldier already here?
Today’s soldier does not walk into battle alone, he/she is supported by on-the-body high tech weapons and devices including an exoskeleton, advanced powered armor suit, gas filters, Augmented Reality (AR) guns, drones, robots, even dogs and dolphins as well as a dedicated remote team who he/she is constantly in touch with using advanced satellite communication.
U.S. Army develops exosuits to bring Soldiers one step closer to being Iron Man. Offering many benefits, the Army exoskeleton can help troops carry more weight, reduce stress on their bodies, and better execute missions.— MyBaseGuide (@mybaseguide) December 1, 2022
Learn more: https://t.co/DTrcAsKp6W
DEFENCE SAFETY ARMOR EXOSKELETON & SUIT [DSAES]— ramsingh hajeri (@RamsinghHajeri) December 1, 2022
The DSAE is type of suit made for soldier which is worn by them over a regular uniform to augment his strength. As demonstrated its ability to increase mobility and reduce fatigue of its users.#drdo #IndianArmy #military #Defence pic.twitter.com/XUGdnfJJZ7
Propaganda in #Russia claimed that the Crimean bridge will never be attacked and is one of the most protected assets, including by military dolphins. I won't be surprised if half of it was stolen even before it appeared. The system eats itself. Imagine how they protect the rest pic.twitter.com/xYdeivfURQ— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) October 8, 2022
Today on #InternationalDogDay we celebrate all of our dogs. In the 🇧🇪 Defence, Military Working Dogs (MWD) are widely used as Patrol Dog, Military Police Dog, Intervention Dog, Explosive Detection Dogs, Detection dog and Special Forces Dog pic.twitter.com/H9EfmlYcLE— Belgian Defence (@BelgiumDefence) August 26, 2022
Where do we go from here?
As we read this, the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG) is meeting on the 20th Jan 2023 at the Ramstein air base in south Germany. This follows on the heels of a a set of allies’ meetings at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. The key decisions coming out of the UDCG meeting are awaited.
Defense experts and war gamers all over the world are charting out several scenarios, most of them terrifying, keeping in mind the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and other global conditions.
Here are a few of them:
US Military Increasing Cooperation With Japan to Prepare for War With #China— Antiwar.com (@Antiwarcom) January 9, 2023
The top Marine Corps general in #Japan says the US is 'setting the theater' in the region the same way it did in Ukraine after 2014
by Dave DeCamp@DecampDave #Philippines https://t.co/97AvkXVRGT pic.twitter.com/HO81qppuvw
1) Top Marine General In #Japan Bluntly Describes #US Is "Setting The Theatre" For Future War With #China— Indo-Pacific News - Geo-Politics & Military News (@IndoPac_Info) January 11, 2023
"The US & Japan are rapidly integrating their command structure & scaling up combined ops as US & allies prepare for conflict with China over Taiwan"https://t.co/DZil0i0KPq
Most say that China won’t invade Taiwan because our economies are too deeply intertwined. That it would cause a severe negative economic reaction. Genocidal autocrats don’t make decisions grounded in economics. Chinese invasion of Taiwan 🇹🇼 is nigh. #China @SquawkCNBC #Taiwan https://t.co/pHWlRxmuRm— 🇺🇸Kyle Bass🇺🇦 (@Jkylebass) January 11, 2023
Of course, keeping the horrors of war away for a moment, in the short term, increase in defense budgets may mean that naval shipyards which were quite sparse and empty will now fill up and defense and defense contractors and aerospace firms in general will get new orders.
Countries already hit by war such as Ukraine will also need a lot of funds to rebuild, which could seek the services of infra and engineering firms. These do provide equity investment opportunities for the opportunistic.
Moreover, the defense industry is usually an early adopter and funder of several cutting edge technologies, which could eventually be applied in the civilian space.
However, on the whole, let us all ensure that good sense will prevail and we can collectively halt things snowballing into an arms race, another regional war or escalation into a tenuous global war. This could put humanity back by a couple of decades, if not centuries.
Let us motivate countries to practise restraint, and truly use defense assets for defense, as a deterrent, and not for unprovoked offense, and that the assets in troubled nations do not fall into the hands of miscreants. Military alliances should focus on peacekeeping and defense preparedness as opposed to initiating or instigating violence. Sadly though, these are the very scenarios we will need to be prepared for.
Peace will help us deal with the other gargantuan issues plaguing us today such as food and water scarcity, the pandemic, recession and climate change.
I end this report with a couple of noteworthy quotes …
“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” - Ernest Hemingway.
“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower.