How warfare tech is changing


The war between Russia and Ukraine has given us a glimpse of the future of warfare. PHOTO | POOL

The war between Russia and Ukraine has given us a glimpse of the future of warfare but not as much to precisely predict.

Albert Einstein was in a similar predicament when he said, “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but my assumption is that World War IV might be fought with sticks and stones.”

Einstein was unsure if conventional warfare would be obsolete or not. Fortunately, emergent irregular warfare gives us much room to understand the future of war.

It will be fought not with sticks and stones but with knowledge and technology.

The war in Ukraine has reminded us that future warfare will require investment in advanced technical and scientific innovation leveraging emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics.

The war is the first one where AI, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and data analytics are the core applications protagonists use.

Observations from the initial stages of the war show how Russia had lined up hundreds of tanks headed for Kyiv. But Ukrainians deployed state-of-the-art anti-tank systems that destroyed all of them and never to be seen again.

The response made Russians look like amateurs in warfare. And what came out of this is how the American Javelin and the British New Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW) were too precise on the job.

However, Russia’s change of strategy to use guided missiles targeting specific areas such as critical infrastructure has brought a new dimension of knowledge and technology into warfare.

These new tactics have succeeded in causing damage despite Ukraine’s use of anti-ballistic missile systems to intercept and destroy any type of ballistic threat.

Many missiles are causing severe damage, especially to critical infrastructure. Success in shooting down rockets demands faultless surveillance systems, sometimes manned by AI systems.

Some projectiles are dropped from combat drones, but these vehicles can also be destroyed with effective surveillance systems.

There are more lessons we can learn from as areas of concern to nation-States. That is making investment choices for the military to counter tactics used at war and managing the critical infrastructure for the future.

A mistake in any of these two areas could be catastrophic. For example, poisoning the water infrastructure may kill more people than in a conventional war.

Investment choices, especially technology and critical infrastructure, are essential in Africa because outdated hardware finds its way into the continent. Africa, in many ways, is the dumping ground.

The continent is faced with many war-like incidents that require as much knowledge as war demands.

For example, conflicts in the continent are endemic, rampant poaching, terrorist threats are everywhere, and organised crimes are rising. These groups use irregular methods to achieve their objectives.

Nations that have had experience dealing with war-like groups understand that they can only be fought by leveraging unconventional methods.

Invariably, one will need modern war systems to succeed. Therefore, the future of warfare will also consume more scientific capacities than in any previous moment.

As warfare changes, we must be cognizant of the constant threat of weapons of mass destruction. When North Korea toys around with these dangerous weapons, we must find means of preventing their use on humanity.

Every individual has the responsibility to stop the application of these dangerous weapons.

While conventional war is dying, there is an urgency for nation-States to invest in knowledge and technologies that will help them to deal with the future of war where they can.

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