21 January, 13:00

Modern warfare: drones, cyber-sieges

Modern warfare: drones, cyber-sieges

Over the last decade, the number of unmanned systems and their applications has grown rapidly. The growing demand for and reliance on unmanned systems has serious implications, both on and off the battlefield. Changes in the nature of warfare profoundly shape both the manner in which the state is organized and the law itself.

Today, we are at another major inflection point, one in which technology is reshaping the way wars are fought. The future of warfare will be shaped by the role of ever-smaller drones; robots on the battlefield; offensive cyber war capabilities; extraordinary surveillance capabilities, both on the battlefield and of particular individuals.

Over the past couple of years, Afghanistan and Pakistan have seen a significant increase in the use of drone aircraft by the US military and other security services.

Drones allow to assassinate individuals a world away by remote control and they are proliferating in unexpected ways. Already, the brief monopoly that the United States, Britain and Israel have had on armed drones has evaporated. China took the United States by surprise in 2010 when it unveiled 25 drone models at an air show, some of which were outfitted with the capability to fire missiles.

The killing of terrorism suspects and insurgents by armed drones, controlled by pilots sitting in bases thousands of miles away in the western United States, has prompted criticism that the technology makes war too antiseptic.

Another potential technique in the new world of warfare is what Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation terms “cyber-siege” war. Presently, we conceptualize most hacking attacks as opportunistic, meaning they concentrate on the softest identifiable targets. However, Meinrath predicts that an enemy undermining the core functionality of our computer systems could harm our increasingly tech-reliant society and that would then lead to a more massive, far-reaching and invasive cyberattack.

The scientific manufacture of life, the proliferation of drones and increasing opportunity of cyber-siege are just the tip of the iceberg. The evolution of surveillance technologies, space weapons, and autonomous unmanned systems of all sorts are also transforming warfare.

Taken together, recent changes both in the technological drivers of warfare and the enemies we face have erased the boundaries between what we have traditionally regarded as “war” and “peace,” military and civilian, foreign and domestic, and national and international.

Voice of Russia, pottsmerc.com, futureagenda.org, The Washington Post

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