Technologies and National Security

The world has witnessed two significant events during last three decades which has changed the contours of global strategic thought. The first being the end of the Cold War and second is the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center (WTC) terrorist attacks (9/11). The end of the Cold War could be said to have started a phase of unilateralism with United States (US) being in the so called µcommand¶ of the world affairs while the 9/11 attacks could be said to have challenged the hegemony of the US to such an extent that they are still unsure about how to address this µasymmetric¶ challenge posed by the terrorist organizations. So in a way it could be argued that the end of the Cold War created opportunities for the US dominance while 9/11 could be said to be the US¶s Achilles¶ heel.

The end of the Cold War also gave an opportunity for many states towards developing peace and prosperity, at the same time it also threw new challenges to the security apparatus of the nation-states. On the other hand, 9/11 made the world (read West) aware about the menace of terrorism
However, it could be incorrect to argue that these two events were instrumental only in shaping the US policies to address the 21st century challenges. The end of the Cold War also gave an opportunity for many states towards developing peace and prosperity, at the same time it also threw new challenges to the security apparatus of the nation-states. On the other hand, 9/11 made the world (read West) aware about the menace of terrorism and unfortunately, also could be said to have motivated the terrorist organizations to continue working on this path by using more heinous ways to spread terror in many other parts of the world. To seize opportunities and meet the challenges of the post Cold War and post 9/11 era, the one strategy which states across the globe have been found bestowing upon is that of the investments in technologies. This is essentially because such investments have paid dividends and are expected to offer solutions to many challenges, if not all. Few states have developed a comprehensive approach to putting science and technology to the service of national security and global stability. States understand that their security rests on three pillars: the readiness and capabilities of military forces, their engagement with other states to prevent conflict from occurring, and the strength of their economy. Strategies of many developed and few developing states are grounded in the conviction that advances in science and technologies are a vital part of the solution to many of the problems that world is facing today. Last few decades have witnessed an exponential growth of technology. This growth has not remained restricted to few limited fields but various new/applied fields have emerged leading to significant changes into lifestyles. From security perspective impact of technologies has become an important premise of study particularly, during the last few decades. This article takes a macro view of impact of technology on security. It essentially argues that recent conflicts like the Gulf War (1993), Kosovo conflict and the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq have clearly demonstrated the relevance of technology for war fighting.

The market forces essentially dictate the growth of technology and subsequently military technologists take a note of it and then modify it for militaristic purposes. Another reason for this could be the realization by the global powers in regard to blind investments into military weaponry/ technology. States have learnt from the erstwhile USSR example and are not ready to invest in military hardware just for µeffect¶.

delivered over a target from an aircraft with the help of global navigational systems like GPS has helped the states to avoid collateral damage. Technology has always played a significant role in defence. permits dominant maneuver. there exists an interrelation between security and technology. the efforts of states used to be towards the development of technologies. essential for militaristic purposes and such technologies used to find their relevance towards the civilian filed subsequently. the dependence of states on various technologies for war fighting could be said to have brought in the concept of Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). the growth of technology in military field needs to be viewed in two stratums. On the other hand. States have learnt from the erstwhile USSR example and are not ready to invest in military hardware just for µeffect¶. the World War II era and the Post Cold War era. But. display of technologies via various military exercises. However. During and after World War II. conducting µtests¶ of new weapons/weapon delivery platforms for the purposes of the expression of the power and building up of an effective deterrence mechanism. It would eventually make ships. Basic important aspects of the RMA are the advent of trustworthy standoff weapons. But. etc. Also. the investments made by defence industry in weapons & weapon delivery platforms. there is a subtle difference in the development of technology vis-à-vis military and civilian fields during both. administrative support. Particularly. Here. Nano-technologies have wider applicability both in electronics and materials. Presently many emerging technologies are being talked about which have major relevance for militaries. Presently. One. It needs to be mentioned here that the concept of RMA goes beyond technology. lighter and more lethal. support is not only in terms of providing the software support but it also involves making the existing hardware more stealthy. allows precision strikes on the targets. 21st century defence preparedness involves demonstration of technological strength. Various innovations in the recent past in Information Technology fields and Communications have helped militaries to make their basic hardware and support infrastructure faster. In short.Various modern day tools of war fighting are driven by technology and that makes technology an important theme in the study of international security. This involves induction of computer networks that confer information superiority. it has almost become over-arching. and undertakes usage of space based assets for militaristic purposes. RMA technologies are changing the nature of war-waging by enabling precise destruction of targets from a distance and speeding up the processes of decision making. This quest for modernization caters for emerging capabilities of states potential adversaries. for the last few decades it has been observed that the market forces essentially dictate the growth of technology and subsequently military technologists take a note of it and then modify it for militaristic purposes. Two. the entire process of doctrine and strategy development would have to have the technology premise at its backdrop. Computers and Internet could be said to be the products of such a military development which in turn has brought in revolution in the civilian fields too. training. Technology is instrumental in influencing the µconcept of war-waging¶ in the minds of both the political and military leadership for many centuries but it appears that in the present scenario. At the same time. It also involves doctrine. induction of weapons like JDAMS (Joint direct attack munitions). strategy. The impacts of science and technology on international security environment are all-encompassing. the overall investments by the states in various ¶support¶ technologies. securer and dependable. Another reason for this could be the realization by the global powers in regard to blind investments into military weaponry/ technology. more users friendly. Such weapons could be dropped from higher heights and under any other weather conditions. innovations in the fields like composite materials and nano-technology have made the platforms lighter and stealthier. The support technologies could be categorized as technologies that improvise the manufacturing process of military hardware. aircrafts and spacecrafts further lighter and stronger. cost factor and raising the technological threshold of armed . Modern day wars are not always envisaged to be fought only on the battleground. This would allow the states to use them more effectively and offers wider flexibility in terms of flying heights and load carrying capabilities.

They also have a significant role towards guiding the standoff weapons. C4ISR capabilities and networkcentric tactics have become an important element of war fighting in the 21st century. and operational concepts in regard to many states. Such a divide clearly elucidates the fact that the era of making militaries numerically stronger would fast be replaced with militaries that are digitally stronger. Two technologies that have dominated the entire landscape of military revolution particularly during last two to three decades. military doctrine. However. sea. Particularly remote sensing satellites are significant for the purposes of reconnaissance and imagery intelligence. the military technologists have always provided various weapons and weapon delivery platform options to the states for the purposes of safeguarding their national interests. From simple detonators to nuclear weapons to submarines to intercontinental ballistic missiles to fifth generation fighter aircrafts. signals intelligence (SIGINT). Multi-spectral sensors are increasingly being used in equipments and platforms used for war fighting in all four dimensions. IT revolution and military utility of various space technologies have made a significant impact on the state¶s preparedness level. The innovation of the steam engine can be termed as the beginning of first industrial revolution because this period saw the textile industry and mechanical engineering as noteworthy outcomes (1780-1840). land. . whereas the third revolution (1900-1950) produced electric engine. Sensor technology has also been instrumental towards digitizing the battlefield. heavy chemicals. Military technology (in some form or other) has impacted all these various phases of industrial revolutions. Various IT tools have helped towards bringing in sophistication and speed in various military platforms. This advent of the RMA clearly indicates how technology plays an important role in regard to national security.forces. The presence of both these technologies has been instrumental in bringing the concept of network centric warfare to reality. the availability of such technology. IT revolution and military utility of various space technologies have made a significant impact on the state¶s preparedness level. automobiles and consumer durables. Specific satellites are found playing a significant role towards gaining intelligence. The second industrial revolution (1840-1900) begun with the emergence of railways and steel industry. IT and space technologies being at the heart of the RMA has partially succeeded from shifting the focus from weapon-centric warfare to network-centric warfare. communication intelligence (COMINT). Post 1950 could be said to have started the fourth revolution that started in 1950s with dominance on oil industry and information technology. For this purpose there is a need for the defence science and technology community to maintain a close dialogue with the militaries and remain sensitive to users need. It also expands the military options available to policymakers. are information technology (IT) and space technologies. still more or less remains restricted to the hands of few states and hence there exists a µdigital divide¶ amongst the few developed states (and their allies to whom such technology has been transferred by them) and others. and operational concepts in regard to many states. Modern day commanders require almost real time digital picture of the battlefield and this has become possible because of both these technologies. air and space based platforms. Satellites are found extremely important for the purposes of intelligence gathering. In the past it has been observed that every industrial revolution had outcomes in the form of technology innovation which in turn had direct or indirect impacts on the military architecture of nation-states. These technologies have succeeded in converting the modern day battle fields into digital battlefields. They also need to educate the user to the possibilities that technology offers for responding to evolving threats. It has dictated the policy making in regard to national security strategy. It has dictated the policy making in regard to national security strategy. viz. The militaries also rely on science and technology to make advanced military systems more affordable through their entire life cycle period. including options other than warfare in pursuing the objectives of promoting stability and preventing conflict. military doctrine. Satellites are useful for the purposes of electronic intelligence (ELINT). and radar intelligence (RADINT). Over the years states have understood that science and technology investment enables them to counter military threats and to overcome any advantages that adversaries may seek. Space technologies are relevant for the purposes of communication and navigation.

At the same time. They are useful in a scenario when the state requires catching the terrorists alive to trace back the terror network. It is also important to look at strategic materials and is expected that military technologists would have a narrow focus on this area in near future. This would allow the states to use them more effectively and offers wider flexibility in terms of flying heights and load carrying capabilities. Biofabrication processes for improved nanostructured devices and materials. Technologies based on Acoustics. the threats and the enemies have changed. Few specific technologies like small robots for the purpose of tactical intelligence gathering could be used. None of the technology could be identified as an effective tool to fight the menace of terrorism. while minimizing fatalities. hence every situation demands innovative usage of available technologies. There even exists a danger that non-state actors may adapt to the strategies involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). networks. satellite phones and more importantly the Internet. Innovative methods to visualize complex. No situation in most of the terror attacks is similar. It would help carrying lighter foods which have more shelf life and nutrition (this would help in having a leaner ³tooth-to-tail ratio´). Recent history has shown that such threats cannot be met by conventional military tools and tactics. enemies in the 21st century pose a gigantic challenge that demands a new approach in form of methodological changes in intelligence gathering and usage of military tactics. Bio-technologies could bring in a revolution in logistics supply chain. For many states in the world over last few decades. It would eventually make ships. mobile phones. Developed states and few developing states. At places few rouge states have started supporting terrorism as a covert policy. Nano-technologies have wider applicability both in electronics and materials. The formulation of strategy to meet new threats would depend on how best the states could factor the technology in their planning process. and feature extraction approaches. Following are few areas of technology which could be considered as Core Strategic Technologies: y y y y y y y y Advanced 3D image processing. Bio and Chem Science are being developed for such purposes by few states. Optical Science. States need to understand that their Technology Strategy has to be a dynamic process. Such weapons are useful to incapacitate personnel or material. This would depend on the geo-political environment as well as the growth of technology itself. it could be unwise to argue that all tools and tactics available with militaries are irrelevant to fight terrorism. These technologies are likely to make the fifth industrial revolution a reality. The recent . The current focus is on space and near-space technologies. algorithms and systems. self-organizing systems Microelectronic systems comprising advanced system concepts coupling electronics. humanoid robots could also become part of the first line of defence in specific cases. Advanced electronic vision and situation awareness devices.Two basic technologies which are being discussed for their potentiality and are expected to change the face of future war fighting are the nano-technology and bio-technology. and close-in and standoff sensor technologies. sensors and actuators with micro-scale packaging and battery technologies Novel three-dimensional data visualization and projection methods Power harvesting technologies and devices Self assembly and/or manufacture techniques States understand that the 21st century threats are not restricted to the conventional realm only. Such technologies are commonly known as Strategic Technologies. There is also a need to invest into non-lethal weapons8 to address these issues. have understood the relevance of technology from national security perspective and are making investments in various fields of technologies that have both short and long term security relevance. What is problematic in today¶s world is the advantage even the nonstate actors are gaining by taking commercially available technologies like GPS. Technological help is also essential to counter special threats such as terrorism. In short. So the intelligent use of technology is more important than technology itself. aircrafts and spacecrafts further lighter and stronger. The technology could make the soldier¶s uniform more lighter and also could inject camouflage capabilities in them. Terrorism being an asymmetric threat it is important to use both conventional and unconventional tactics to defeat the unknown aggressor. analysis.

Investments in technology allow states to possess four commonly accepted instruments of national power2 viz. But. interestingly this arms race is not on the lines of the arms race in the Cold War era. what is problematic in today¶s world is the advantage even the non-state actors are gaining by taking commercially available technologies like GPS. Investments in technology allow nation states have political. This demonstration by the US and allied forces have forced many other nation-states to invest in such technologies. and military. Given some in-depth insights into advanced technology research organizations (both public and private). States view possession of state-of-the ± art technology infrastructure as a strategic asset which in turn could be viewed as symbol of national power. Military industrial complex as well as other industries with technologically superior products allows them to attract global customers giving boost to economy. Naturally. The state¶s dependence on various IT tools has unfortunately converted them into a lucrative target also. economic. For fighting 21st century warfare what is important is to offer soldiers lighter weapons. and have weapon delivery platforms which are light and able to deliver weapons on the target mostly from standoff range. Today. the world has experienced more dramatic changes brought about by technology than ever before in history. satellite phones and more importantly the Internet. states are investing in all kinds of military and non-military technologies for a simple reason that these technologies are critical to progress. These scientific and technological breakthroughs have far reaching political. states are investing in all kinds of military and non-military technologies for a simple reason that these technologies are critical to progress. Hence. . These implications are not limited in scope to the country or jurisdiction where the development takes place but throughout the world. It gives them leverage for the execution of state¶s foreign policy through diplomatic means. even though this article has discussed importance of technology for military instrument of national power it needs to be understood that the concept of national security in the 21st century has wider connotations and should not be viewed only through a narrow prism of military. However. economic and social implications. In the context of international relations and diplomacy. informational. the process of scientific evolution is a difficult task. Today. power is normally considered as the ability of one state to influence or control other states. In the past thirty years. But at the same time dependence on technology also allows the enemy to cripple your infrastructure by attacking your assets and cause substantial damage. In a way it could be said that the new arms race has started where states are interested in investing more in µaid¶ (support) technologies rather than going for bigger weapons. there are wondrous new developments ahead that will shape mankind¶s lives in ways yet unimaginable. this has fueled an arms race amongst states. economic and informational superiority as well. reduce the burden on logistic chain. They allow them socio-economic development as well as guarantee security. mobile phones. Also. Issues with technology to protect cyberspace is one of the most urgent national security problem faced by many states. Over the years the methods of war fighting have always responded to the evolution of technology. They allow them socio-economic development as well as guarantee security These conflicts have demonstrated that technology makes military capabilities far superior. In some cases the technology itself came into being because it was researched for militaries. historically it has been seen that almost every military technological superiority is being challenged by counter measures be it ECM or ECCMs (Electronic counter and counter-counter measures) or missile defence shields.conflicts have successfully demonstrated the capabilities of smart weapons. Scientific discoveries have their own momentum and further its transformation into technology could not always be guaranteed. Technology also allows access to information which other states may not have. political. However. The entire process of scientific discovery to its conversion into usable technology is an intricate progression involving large number of complex variables. Technical revolution is essentially a dynamic process and is constantly evolving and its impact on society as a whole and national security in particular will vary with the transformation in technology. It has been aptly demonstrated during last few decades that the advances in technology dramatically expand the options available for the use of force.1 Technology is viewed as a force multiplier.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful