War is not an affair of chance. A great deal of knowledge, study and meditation is necessary to conduct it well.
War is an indelible and inescapable reality for states, which requires concentrated study. In the words of Frederick the Great quoted above, one can envisage the importance of the need to study war. Is it an ‘art’ or a ‘science’? I would hold the opinion that it is a potent synergy of both. Delineating how, when and where man first engaged himself in warfare remains an enigma. However it is indeed a stark reality of man’s history, present and future. Hobbes argued that war was a result of man’s innate need to protect himself from his many enemies, and his natural proclivity towards violence consequently led to the creation of states and armies.
The kinetic nature of warfare can be split into five distinct evolutionary phases characterized by, but not limited to; the history, culture and technological prowess of man through the epochs. Evolution of warfare on its own is worthy of study as it would be a folly to understand the present 5th generation of warfare commonly termed as 5GW if the previous generations are ignored. Secondly, many elements of 5GW are reminiscent of the earlier generations of warfare and contribute immensely in the rational elucidation of a certain conflict and the conduct of war. It is not as if since warfare is currently in its 5th evolution, the last four have lost their coherence, and rather is absolutely converse to this notion as I will discuss progressively.
The purpose of this research is twofold: One, to briefly describe the importance of the study of war and its evolution, and two, purview it in Pakistan’s perspective.
An etymological assessment of the term ‘Asymmetric’ would be helpful in the quick comprehension of what this kind of warfare entails. As the word may suggest, it is a war between belligerents whose relative military power, strategy and tactics differs significantly. The relevance of Asymmetric and Unrestricted Warfare in Pakistan is of even more critical importance, since Pakistan is a country which needs to fight this kind of war on the event of an Indian military aggression; and may even have to wage this kind of war, in its fight against terrorism. Therefore, Pakistan’s example is a unique amalgamation of asymmetric defense as well as offence. Hence it is critical that Pakistan understands 5GW, as it is being imposed on us as we speak. But in order to understand 5GW, it is important to understand how warfare has generally evolved.
The development of First Generation Warfare (1GW), also termed as Napoleonic Warfare, pitched armies against one another in colossal Line and Column Formations. Industrial revolution, witnessed technological enhancements in warfare as well resulting in doctrine of ‘massed firepower’ paving the way for The Second Generation Warfare (2GW). WWI saw massive human causality in the front lines in the style of Trench Warfare attributed to 2GW. Third Generation Warfare (3GW) or Maneuver Warfare or so it is called was conceived by the German Wehrmacht and inoculated as a war fighting doctrine at the outset of World War II in its conquest of Europe. This was a prolific leap in the evolution of warfare when the German Army ‘Heer’, the German Navy ‘Kriegsmarine’ and the German Air force ‘Luftwaffe’ displayed that future warfare lay in ‘Joint Operations’. This doctrine also opened headways for modern military strategic and tactical thought giving genesis to rapid precision maneuver of mechanized formations and has been the dominant form of conventional warfare in the modern era.
The Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) is known as Insurgency Warfare. It is a termed coined by William S. Lind later progressed by many military stalwarts, most notable among them being Hammes in The Sling and the Stone.The face of warfare yet witnessed a gigantic transformation in 4GW which opened dialectical gateway for the study of warfare. 4GW is also known as Asymmetric Warfare. Great stress is given over quantitative vs. qualitative debates and the fact that inferior forces do posses the ability to win over superior forces. Something that was unfathomable in the past epochs. Terrorism is a tactic of this kind of warfare, and not a type of warfare itself as generally opined. Asymmetrical warfare stresses ‘attrition’ as its strategy and tactics, relying on insanguinating opponents over a long period of time with unconventional strategy and tactics, and to reallocate focus from destruction of the enemy ’s superior conventional military forces to defeat of the enemy’s ‘will to fight’. Vietnamese defeat the United States, the Afghans defeating the Soviets, and Al Qaeda in its global insurgency and pertinent examples.
Due to the illusive nature of the Fifth Generation Warfare (5GW), also loosely termed as Unrestricted Warfare no commonly accepted definition exists that adequately define its. However, looking at the pace of the evolving nature of war, it is reasonable to acknowledge that 5GW is making its appearance in the global theater of conflict, and more importantly in Pakistan. 4GW and 5GW are also somewhat intertwined and this fact further compounds the need to understand both acutely. 5GW is not a new theory altogether. It is a rendition of the principles as lineated in Sun Tzu's Art of War, where you use tactic and deceit to undermine the heart of your enemy. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War reiterates the dictum “All Warfare is based on Deception”. Deception is the paramount characteristic of 5GW. 5GW is the utilization of “all means whatsoever – may it be military, economic, propaganda or any other strategy to wage an ‘indirect’ war on your enemy”. It is an amalgamation of indirect/irregular warfare to soften up the enemy before direct military intervention. One critical element of 5GW is that the enemy is ‘invisible’, ‘elusive’ and evasive. A state may be engaged in fighting a known enemy at a known front, only to discover that it was just a distractive decoy that bought time and opportunity to the ‘real enemy’.
5th Generation Warfare in Pakistan
Pakistan witnessed first hand the trouncing affects of 4GW in 1971 with the dismemberment of East Pakistan, and while other ethnic and political factors were present, if the conflict is viewed with a holistic lens it was ultimately enchased by the Indians when they aided in the creation of the Mukhti Bahini culminating in the creation of Bangladesh. The terror attacks witnessed in Pakistan are but a meager part of 5GW that is being waged against Pakistan. Artificial insurgencies to create schisms in society and using religious/ideological/ethnic premises to set the stage are all common tactics of 5GW. It is a ‘game’ that gives an aggressor the liberty to defy the ‘laws of war’ and ‘rules of engagement’, thus giving it stealth and the power of deception. Other tactics involve disrupting government processes and creating public dissent, creating saboteurs in the shape of non state actors but, thus far, the motivations of the belligerent remain ambiguous if not totally unknown. It is a formless and most deadly type of warfare.
The rational is simplistic, i.e. to secure the loyalties of non-state actors (groups and/or individuals) harboring bellicose against the state by monitory benefits or other political understandings thereby creating many small situations to breed societal contempt and disarray. Subsequently, involving and stretching thin the states’ defense apparatus in a long, amorphous, and highly destabilizing intra state conflict. These tactics can range from urban centers like Karachi and Peshawar, to rural areas like FATA and remote areas of Baluchistan.
Targeting IT and C4ISR capabilities of a state’s defense mechanism, disrupting functional government and corporations, inoculating tacit psyc-ops via media houses, over reliance on foreign aid and insidiously retarding self sufficiency, funneling finances, arms and trainings through conduits to non state actors and insurgents, maligning the target state via portraying a vile image in front of the international community aimed towards imposing embargos, and sanctions, working to weaken the state on economic lines, denying amenities such as water and other resources even when they are owned by the state, (resource warfare), clandestine intervention in the target states socio-political scenario, systematic rise in crime rate and moral-cultural deterioration are all overtones of 5GW. The tools and arena of 5GW are unrestricted, as its name suggests. All of the above signatures are clearly evident in Pakistan’s case. It is aimed at attacking the ‘morale and will’ of the enemy/target (i.e. Pakistan) rather than attacking the military resources directly. But due to the length constraints of this writing, I will be only concentrating on insurgency and terrorism and that too on military/government installations.
The potentially devastating power of 5GW in Pakistan is demonstrated perpetually in the terror attacks and bombings since 2005. A series of attacks on military installations like Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra, Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) Wah, Army General Head Quarters (A-GHQ) Rawalpindi, Army Special Service Group (SSG) garrison in Mangla and most audaciously in the case of Pakistan Naval Base Mehran (PNS) are premonitions of what may transmogrify into a more overt confrontation ultimately.
An acute analysis based on open source information of the PNS Mehran attack would serve a strong purpose in explaining 5GW in Pakistan’s perspective. On the eve of the terror attack, the terrorists entered the premises of PNS Mehran which is adjacent to Pakistan Air Force base Faisal and also shares a few facilities with it. They treaded many clicks through rough terrain including marsh land to finally reach the Naval Aircrafts P3-C Orions that were the prime targets to be destroyed, even though the terrorists passed several Pakistan Air Force aircrafts before reaching the P3-C Orions at PNS Mehran which could have been destroyed more conveniently had the aim would have been to detonate ‘any’ aircraft. However this was not the case. This insinuates that the terrorists had a proper agenda to sabotage and destroy ‘specific naval aircrafts’ meant for the ‘special role’ of ‘anti submarine warfare’. Who or Why would anyone target the P3-C Orions sprout many dialectical questions that need serious answering. Was it just a terrorist plot performed by a simple belligerent non state actor for achievement of certain political goals? Or was the attack targeted to retard/neutralize Pakistan Navy’s capability to keep an eye on the Indian Ocean? Or retard an over all force capacity of Pakistan Navy to counter submarine warfare? This is a classic example of 5GW’s deceptive nature which makes it extremely challenging for the state to identify the ‘real enemy’.
Terror plots like the above mentioned also highlight the fact that these non state actors receive special weapons, tactical trainings and other highly sophisticated auxiliary military hardware like night vision goggles and weapon suppressors to complete the mission at hand. The solid ‘infantry and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) tactics displayed by terrorists in the CCTV footage of Sri Lankan Cricket Team Attack all suggest classical elements and signatures of ‘Special Operations’.
While such 5GW strategies may be a candidate of rebuttal, it is indeed a well thought out theme that has witnessed systematic progression. US president John F. Kennedy, himself an ardent scholar of war, realizing that the wars of the future will be won by unconventional methods rather than sheer military might inaugurated the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center speaks volumes about the ingenuity and practice of 5GW.
The Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other groups in Karachi are the ubiquitous poster boys of terrorism in Pakistan, however the real task at hand is to also understand whether these non state actors indeed have political aims due to bellicose sentiments against the state, or are they just a deceptive coy. Christoph Reuter insists in his book “My Life is a Weapon” insurgencies cannot survive without foreign backing. It would be true to assume that the above mentioned terror outfits are being run on the same lines.
While TTP clearly states in its manifesto that it is at war with the US and thereby her ally Pakistan. Secondly it wants the Islamic Sharia Law to be incorporated in Pakistan. Conversely, we see that no US installations in Pakistan have suffered an attack, nor have they targeted softer targets like liqueur shops, and other locations that are divergent to that of an Islamic society. Their prime targets remain girls’ schools, mosques and Pakistan Government installations. This demonstrates a clear waver in their thought and actions, which may be strategically understood as the element of deception to conceal their real motives, and masters.
The BLA is also being run on the same lines by its leader Hyrbyair Marri. While they may have a definite agenda of Baluchistan succeeding from the federation of Pakistan, their actual numbers are described in mere thousands in a province of roughly 8 million. Similarly, Shazain Bugti, leader of Jambhori Watan party, also known for his anti state sentiments was intercepted by Frontier Corps at the Afghan Pakistan border with a massive cache of heavy weapons including anti air craft guns. The question as to how they garner financial and military assistance to fight the state is again of vital importance. The same can be said about the gangs and mafias of the metropolis of Karachi.
Pakistan is indeed fighting an enemy that is waging 5GW. The effects of fighting a protracted war are never positive and Pakistan has and continues to bleed in this war of attrition in terms of economics, social dissent and a national security crisis. There are two questions yearning to be answered. ‘Who’ is this unseen enemy that is waging a clandestine war inside Pakistan with the likes TTP, BLA being mere pawns of a larger game. The second inquiry must be as to ‘What’ are the designs of the enemy and ‘Why’ are they bent upon playing this game in Pakistan. Perhaps, the answers would indicate a much more sinister geo-political maneuver rather than a mere internal ethnic-social problem.
In order to counter this 5GW, it is integral to incorporate 3GW, 4GW, and 5GW in an innovative and strategic mix. A total re-engineering of our national security policy is required, with an emphasis on profound role of intelligence community and well planned anti/counter terror policies. Media, civil society, intelligentsia and judiciary have an equal onus to bear in fighting this unrestricted war. It is high time that political will must reflect the collective wisdom and repository of the Pakistani nation. Above all diligence in duty, faith, unity, and discipline are the paramount weapons for this war that will give a true meaning to Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus' adage:
“Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum”
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