Defence secretary warns of ‘grey zone warfare’

Ajay Kumar says ramping of infrastructure by Chinese along LAC is a matter of concern

October 23, 2021 02:02 am | Updated 02:02 am IST - Bengaluru

The threat to India from China through technological advancement in cyber, electronic and space domain among others came in for some intense discussion on Friday even as the new-age war received attention from top military planners.

While the Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat spoke on a host of threats that India needs to gear up to face, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar spoke on the “grey zone warfare” that often does not involve full-fledged warfare.

They were speaking at the Indian Air Force conclave here on Friday on Synergised Objectives organised to mark 50 years of the victory in Indo-Pak War in 1971.

“The most worrisome (for India) is China’s technological advancement in cyber and space domain that often treads beyond military domain. Aggressive posturing will remain a cornerstone of China’s expansion policy, which we have to be wary about,” General Rawat cautioned. He said there was a need to quickly incorporate artificial intelligence, robotics, cyber and electronic warfare capability to meet the challenges.

Concurring with General Rawat, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said that ramping of infrastructure and assets by the Chinese along the Line of Actual Control remains a matter of concern. “We cannot ignore what China has aimed for itself. It wants to be no more a regional power but a world class military power by 2049. It has increased capabilities in land, space and cyber domain in the last decade, especially in electro magnetic spectrum and drone among other things.”

He also said India has witnessed an increase in cyber attacks in the last two years, and that it is important for India to work with friendly countries on geospatial issues. Cautioning on the “grey zone warfare”, he said the attacks may not have any attributes, overt data collection or data theft, use of technical standard to create dependence in technology and domination in international forums to influence global policy.

In a bid to upgrade technologically faster, Mr. Kumar said the capital asset acquisition time had been brought down to less than two years. “Earlier, a capital asset acquisition would take an average 5 years. Unless acquisition is speeded up, the technology itself becomes redundant.”

In the last five years, he pointed out ₹ 2.5 lakh crore has been spent on defence procurement, which was more than the double in the previous five years. “Acquisition that had been stalled for years, has been completed and supplies had begun.”

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