5GW and Hybrid Warfare
Implications for Pakistan
“Every age had its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar preconceptions.” — Carl von Clausewitz
The composition of war is changing in the contemporary world. Old conventional war tactics are being replaced with new ones and new tools of warfare such as information warfare, media propaganda and hybrid warfare, are gaining currency. These new tactics and strategies are being increasingly adopted by nation-states to counter their adversaries. Previously, wars characterized greater visibility of violence and energy but the desired outcome of the new kinds of war is to influence rather than being visible. The target remains unaware of the fact that it is being targeted and how it is being attacked or even if an enemy exists at all. The nature of war has changed and now the cyber war is taking place. The ‘soldiers’ in this war are ordinary people. This war of ideas and perceptions is now commonly known as 5GW and hybrid warfare.
Five Generations of Warfare
War is not a new phenomenon for human beings; this phenomenon is, however, evolving continuously. Let’s examine the five generations of war.
1. First Generation: War of Lines and Columns
First-generation war introduced the monopoly of state to wage war. In this generation, battles were formal and battlefield was orderly. It runs from 1648 to 1860. This generation created a culture of order like uniforms, saluting, gradation and ranks. This culture of order distinguished military people from civilians. This generation of war was dominated by mass power.
2. Second Generation: Trench Warfare
This generation was introduced by French Army and ended with World War II. This generation introduced the use of artillery, heavy gunfire and planes in the battlefield while preserving the culture of order which was established by first-generation warfare. It was dominated by fire-power.
3. Third Generation: Manoeuvre Warfare
Third generation of warfare introduced tactics of surprise, speed, applying the motto, bypassing and undermining the enemy. In the defence, it attempted to draw the enemy in, and then cut it off. It was developed by German army. In the third generation, army’s main focus was the enemy, outward situation and result of the situation. Initiative, rather than obedience, was preferred and it was guided by self-discipline during this warfare. It was dominated by manoeuvre tactics of warfare.
4. Fourth Generation: Non-state Actors
This generation introduced non-state actors in the warfare and denied the state’s monopoly of waging a war. Now all over the world, non-state actors, e.g. al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas, are rising and the state is losing control. In fourth generation, the state is a rather weaker party despite having advanced technology and firepower.
5. Fifth Generation: Wars of Perception and Information
Fifth-generation warfare (5GW) is the battle of perception and information. It is also a cultural and a moral war. In 5GW, violence is dispersed but victim is not aware that it is the victim of war or who is its enemy and that it is losing the war. The secrecy makes it the most dangerous warfare generation of all times. In this type, such a war is going on that is not identifiable. The 5GW combines the rage of people and rationality of state to achieve an intended outcome of warfare, rendering military command useless. It exploits cultural icons and religious sentiments to defeat an opponent. Political support of the masses is a valid tactic in this context. Information is exploited to manipulate the general perception of the public. Sun Tzu defines this tactic of warfare as “Acme of skills” that means “a victory without fighting.”
In 5GW, information is a tool of fighting the war. Propagation of information decides the ultimate victory for a belligerent. It is a battle in which, one the one hand, there is concentration of power while apparently an absence of power, on the other. In this battle, the perception of adversary as well as the true political motivation of adversary is not known. It’s a kind of silent war where “the war and political desires are visible but the combatant and strategic forms of power used in the war are invisible and lean towards … influence.”
The term hybrid threat was first coined by William Nemeth from USA army in 2002. Hoffman defined hybrid warfare as:
“Threat that incorporates a full range of different modes of warfare including conventional capabilities, irregular tactics and formations, terrorist acts including indiscriminate violence and coercion, a criminal disorder, conducted by both sides and a variety of non-state actors.”
According to Military balance (edition 2015) hybrid warfare is: “The use of military and non-military tools in an integrated campaign, designed to achieve surprise, seize the initiative and gain psychological as well as physical advantages utilizing diplomatic means; sophisticated and rapid information, electronic and cyber operations; covert and occasionally overt military and intelligence actions; and economic pressure.
In hybrid warfare, the enemy can be a state or a non-state actor. Methods and tactics include conventional capabilities, irregular tactics, irregular formations, terrorist acts, indiscriminate violence and criminal activities. The hybrid adversary uses advance weapons system and other disruptive technologies while the battlefields of hybrid warfare include conventional battlefield, the indigenous population of the conflict zone and the international community.
Elements of Hybrid Warfare
This diagram depicts the elements of hybrid warfare.
Fighting 5GW and hybrid warfare
For fighting 5GW and hybrid warfare, the aggressor state installs a puppet leader in the host country. It fuels rebels and anti-state insurgent sentiments against the sitting government. Protests are started in host country in the name of fighting corruption, and combating increased prices and inflation, curbing dictatorship or suppressing religious sentiments. Media, especially social media, play negative role in exploiting this rebellion. Collateral damage is caused by government’s action. When the government acts and makes the use of force, media depicts it as a killer and criminal actor because it uses force against innocent people. Media play a significant role in building a perspective among people by portraying the image of puppet leader as “saviours”. Aggressive state supports the politically chosen puppet leader. If the government refuses to step down, civil war or guerrilla warfare starts in the country and the aggressive state exploits it to oust the government. If the government steps down, rebellion dies down and the aggressor state wins a silent war of perceptions.
5GW and Hybrid Warfare in the Context of Pakistan
Pakistan is facing 5GW and hybrid threats from inside and outside the country. From outside, Pakistan is physically facing the hybrid warfare launched by its traditional eastern rival. India is opposing Pakistan at all international forums including the UN and FATF. For example, in August, India’s electronic media began screaming that the Asia Pacific Group (APG), a regional arm of FATF, has placed Pakistan on the organization’s black list. This was an attempt by the Indian media to defame Pakistan.
On the first place, APG has no mandate to decide on the listing. The decision on grey- or blacklisting rests with the FATF Plenary, and not with the APG. Secondly, even if APG recommended blacklisting, it had not issued its official communiqué on the latest meeting.
India is also trying to subvert Pakistan diplomatically by portraying it as a hub of terrorism. Hostile countries are also trying to subvert CPEC as it is benefitting Pakistan economically, and will prove to be a game-changer for the country.
Internally, violent movements such as Baloch separatist groups and the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) could qualify as the component of 5GW and hybrid warfare. Many wage a hybrid warfare against the army of Pakistan by raising the slogan like ‘Ye jo dahshatgardi hai, iske peeche vardi hai (Army is behind this terrorism).’
The biggest 5GW and hybrid warfare in the country is going on between the opposition and the government. Both fronts are using social media negatively against each other. Name-calling, taunts, criticism and chaos in parliament are the order of day, leading Pakistan to instability.
Warfare has never been uniform since the beginning of the mankind. Ways and means to wage a war are evolved through trial and error process and will continue to do so. Internal and external factors provide breeding grounds for war. Presence of multiple threats and vulnerabilities provides ample ground for furthering hybrid war against Pakistan. Academia and various think tanks in the country have started to discuss 5GW and hybrid warfare. Hence, the process to educate the people about new war has already begun. Pakistan and its people, as a whole, need to be on common front to counter this hybrid warfare for the cause of a literate, peaceful, stable and flourishing Pakistan.