The Chief of Army Staff, General M.M. Naravane, said on Thursday that the transition to a digital age is contrary to the existing concept of Defence Procurement Procedure (DDP) and Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP), and India needs to shed old mindsets and make the procedures flexible and adaptive.
“All this would require simplified procedures that facilitate transition. Unfortunately, this has been one of our biggest stumbling blocks,” said General Naravane in an address to a think-tank on Artificial Intelligence.
He said that to harness niche technologies like Artificial Intelligence, exploit depth in IT and realise the vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, India needs to shed old mindsets and make procedures more flexible and adaptive.
“We desperately need a revolution in bureaucratic affairs,” said General Naravane.
These emerging military technologies have also raised an array of ethical considerations that could produce unintended consequences if they fail to perform as anticipated, he noted.
“These consequences could range from system failure to violations of the Law of Armed Conflict. Human rights groups warn of a robotic arms race without regard for international law,” he said.
The Army Chief said the developments along the northern borders during the past year are a stark reminder that in order to preserve territorial integrity, the armed forces need to continuously prepare and adapt to the exigencies of modern warfare.
He said that there have been few instances when the inventions powered by novel technologies have not only altered the rules of the game, but also changed the very game itself.
“Whether it was the invention of gun powder in the 9th century or the appearance of the machine gun in the 19th century, war fighting underwent radical changes. Then of course there have been technologies that have provided decisive edge to those who possessed them,” he said.
During World War II, the emergence of the radar had a dramatic impact on the defence of the UK during the Battle of Britain and Sonar in the conduct of anti-submarine warfare in the North Atlantic, he noted.
During the Cold War, emerging computer technology, electronic component technology and propulsion technology, each had a significant impact on the evolution of the Cold War military capabilities, he added.
The impact of technologies on strategic-military affairs in recent times has been profoundly disruptive.
There was a time when doctrines spawned technologies; today technologies are driving doctrinal and operational cycles like never before, the Army Chief said.
The US military in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008 had just two predators — one armed and another unarmed — and about 400 human sources; today, the reality is possibly the other way around, he said.
“Niche technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, autonomous and unmanned systems, long-range precision technology, quantum computing, to name a few, have become veritable tools of deterrence and compellence,” General Naravane said.
He also cited recent examples of Artificial Intelligence enabled systems and offensive use of drones first in Idlib and then in Armenia-Azerbaijan.
“More recently, the Israeli defence forces have hailed the just concluded 11-day conflict with Hamas as the first Artificial Intelligence war,” said General Naravane, adding that Artificial Intelligence is today the modern, holy grail of technology, with far-reaching implications on the nature of geo-politics and geo-strategic.
He said that India is looking at a whole range of applications that include surveillance, logistics, cyberspace operations, information operations and most importantly, military training and combat operations including decision making.