Cyber warfare the next big threat
With Internet having collapsed boundaries, cyber warfare can happen anywhere, from anywhere and anytime. Its potential to disrupt systems is all too known and it is encompassing almost all fields. Even the US presidential elections have come under that cloud with alleged involvement of Russia. Cyber warfare is for real and the next big threat.
Online terrorism is gaining ground at gigabit speed. In this issue Lt General (Dr) Rajesh Pant (Retd) writes about how cyber criminals cater for almost 98 per cent of the online attacks. However, of greater concern is the methodical manner in which terrorists are using the Internet for radicalisation, recruitment and in some extreme cases even terrorist activities. This indoctrination is global from some godforsaken place, thus becoming difficult to track the activities going on in the dark web.
In another article, Lt General P.C. Katoch (Retd) talks about how the Indian military is kept away from the cyber warfare programme. He says little progress has been made with respect of the Naresh Chandra Committee recommendation of 2012 for establishing a cyber command in the military. General Katoch mentions that in the US the counter extremism project works with governments exploiting the Internet to mobilise social media to counter extremist ideology by exposing the threat of extremists and mounting a global counter narrative. India needs similar public-private partnership to tackle this mammoth problem.
Defence partnerships are significant for countering terrorism. The UK Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon was on a four-day visit to India wherein he had meetings with the Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley. This enduring defence partnership will encompass not only cooperation in defence industry but also stronger military to military engagement, including training and advanced joint exercises.
Another such cooperation has been with India’s close neighbour, Bangladesh. There is no doubt that Sheikh Hasina has been the best friend of India, going all out against terrorist networks that has a direct bearing on India. It would be good if the Narendra Modi government is able to push through a mutually beneficial Teesta water sharing agreement before the general elections in Bangladesh in 2018. That would really take Indo-Bangladesh relations to the next level.
While diplomacy is the way forward, the need to keep the Indian armed forces modern and well-equipped goes without saying. There are many equipment gaps and one such that is coming up is in minesweepers. As per media reports quoting the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, the existing fleet of six minesweeping vessels with the Indian Navy will be de-commissioned next year. General Katoch mentions that building mine countermeasure vehicles will take considerable time. There is urgent need to get this cleared to equip the Indian Navy with the critical capability. The worrying part now is that the Navy is likely to be without minesweeping capability till year 2021.
Defence technologies are making fast inroads. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has completed flighttesting of a subscale version of a novel aircraft design as part of its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) X-Plane programme, and is proceeding withwork to develop a full-scale version of the groundbreaking plane.
Jayant Baranwal Publisher & Editor-in-Chief