Technology Transformation of 21st Century Warfare For India and Pakistan

How is increasing use of technology transforming modern warfare?

What will be the impact of widespread deployment of cyberweapons like Stuxnet worm used by the United Sates to cause extensively physical destruction of Iran's nuclear centrifuges? Will such weapons be used to destroy critical infrastructure of telecommunications, water and power and the economy of the enemy?

Will the boots on the ground be replaced by bots on the ground, in the air and on the water in the future? How autonomous will such bots be? How will the armed drones distinguish between combatants and non-combatants in war?

Will bio-hacking lead to new extremely lethal biological agents developed and deployed by terrorists and rogue individuals and nations?

How is the information technology changing the battlefield awareness with more effective command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I)?

Are India and Pakistan modernizing their militaries for technology-based warfare?

What are the key ethical issues raised by high-tech warfare? Will it make it easier for nations with advanced technology to start wars with impunity?

Capacity For Revolution in Military Affairs Source:  Laird & Mey 1999


Vision 2047 host Farrukh Shah Khan discusses these questions with Riaz Haq in the following video:

http://vimeo.com/117678020




Vision 2047: Impact of Revolution in Military Affairs on South Asia from WBT TV on Vimeo.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2fo3yh_how-will-technology-change-warfare-in-south-asia_tech



How Will Technology Change Warfare in South Asia- by faizanmaqsood1010
As to the potential cyber component of any future wars between India and Pakistan, its dramatic impact could reverberate across the globe as the computers used in South Asia for outsourced work from the United States and Europe come under crippling attacks from hackers on both sides. Here is how Robert X. Cringeley describes it in a June 2009 blog post captioned "Collateral Damage":

"Forget for the moment about data incursions within the DC beltway, what happens when Pakistan takes down the Internet in India? Here we have technologically sophisticated regional rivals who have gone to war periodically for six decades. There will be more wars between these two. And to think that Pakistan or India are incapable or unlikely to take such action against the Internet is simply naive. The next time these two nations fight YOU KNOW there will be a cyber component to that war.

And with what effect on the U.S.? It will go far beyond nuking customer support for nearly every bank and PC company, though that’s sure to happen. A strategic component of any such attack would be to hobble tech services in both economies by destroying source code repositories. And an interesting aspect of destroying such repositories — in Third World countries OR in the U.S. — is that the logical bet is to destroy them all without regard to what they contain, which for the most part negates any effort to obscure those contents."


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Defense Production Goes High-Tech

Drones Outrage and Inspire Pakistanis

RMA Status in Pakistan

Cyber Wars in South Asia

Pakistan's Biggest Ever Arms Bazar

Genomics and Biotech Advances in Pakistan

India's Israel Envy: What if Modi Attacks Pakistan

Eating Grass: Pakistan's Nuclear Program



Comments

Riaz Haq said…
“Pakistan continues to take steps to improve security of its nuclear arsenal. We anticipate that Pakistan will continue development of new delivery systems, including cruise missiles and close-range ‘battlefield’ nuclear weapons to augment its existing ballistic missiles,” he said, appearing before the House Armed Services Committee.
Lt Gen Stewart told lawmakers that Pakistan’s army and paramilitary forces remain deployed in FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
“Army ground operations in North Waziristan have cleared anti-state militants from most population centres, and we expect the military will continue targeting remaining militant strongholds in 2015.”
He noted that the TTP attack on an army-run school in Peshawar has emboldened military efforts against anti-state militants, including intensified airstrikes against TTP leadership and fighters.
The government and military are also working together to implement a national action plan against terrorism, which includes the establishment of military courts, he added.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/833002/us-expresses-confidence-in-pakistans-nuclear-security/
Riaz Haq said…
From Wall Street Journal:

Russian researchers expose breakthrough U.S. spying program. The National Security Agency found a way to implant spyware into the firmware of hard drives, allowing the agency the ability to spy on the majority of computers worldwide, according to Kaspersky Lab. The Moscow-based security agency said it found infected computers in 30 countries, with the most infections found in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included banks, energy companies, government and military institutions. A former NSA employee tells Reuters that Kasperky’s analysis is correct. The news could soon lead to more backlash against Western technology vendors.

http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2015/02/17/ups-business-rides-on-orion-routing-algorithm/
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan air force today inducted the advanced China-built Karakoram Eagle AWACS aircraft, capable of detecting hostile aerial and sea surface targets far before ground-based radars regardless of their height.

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said the new aircraft were inducted into its premier No 4 Squadron at ceremony held at an operational PAF base in Karachi.

"With the addition of AWACS, Pakistan air defence is now able to look deeper in enemy territory, be it land or sea," the air force said.

The Karakorum Eagle Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) can detect aerial as well as sea surface targets at a fairly long distance regardless of their height, it said.

The aircraft maintains link with ground command and control centres to provide comprehensive air picture.

"After an early detection, AWACS can direct own fighter aircraft to intercept or neutralise the emerging threat, well before it can threaten our national assets. AWACS ability of detecting sea targets would also enhance the capabilities of Pakistan Navy," it said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was the chief guest at the induction ceremony, said the PAF has always proved equal to the task even in the most challenging times and has measured up to the expectations of the nation.

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Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt termed the induction a significant moment for the PAF.

"Re-equipping the Squadron with this state-of-the-art aircraft will enable PAF to effectively counter all threats against Pakistan's aerial frontiers and add a new dimension to the National security," he said.

"Induction of Karakoram Eagle AWACS would revolutionise PAF's operational concepts. With its induction, PAF is transforming into a modern versatile and capability based force," Butt said.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/pak-inducts-china-built-eagle-awacs-into-air-force-115022601420_1.html
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's Air Force (PAF) Thursday stood up its unit of Chinese Karakorum Eagle AEW&C aircraft in a ceremony attended by the head of the PAF, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Though the exact location of the ceremony was not given, it is believed to have been held at PAF Base Masroor in Karachi as the prime minister was known to have been in the city that day.

Brian Cloughley, an analyst and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad, said AEW&C "is very good news for the PAF – and for Pakistan" because it "will dramatically improve early warning capabilities which up until now have been comparatively rudimentary."

The ZDK-03 Karakorum Eagle is a dish-based AEW&C system mounted on a Shaanxi Y-8F600 aircraft. Though never confirmed, it has been speculated that the dish houses an AESA antenna.

Four were ordered in 2008 with the first delivered in 2010.

Air Commodore Syed Muhammad Ali, a spokesman for the Air Force, confirmed all Karakorum Eagle aircraft on order have now been delivered, but could not say if more would be ordered from China.

The aircraft join No.4 Squadron, which was first established in 1959 with Bristol Freighter transports and Grumman HU-16 Albatross amphibians. The amphibians were used for maritime reconnaissance, search and rescue, and casualty evacuation alongside Sikorsky H-19D helicopters. The HU-16s were retired in 1968 and the H-19Ds in 1969.

The unit was then "number-plated" until officially re-equipped with the Karakorum Eagle.

The four Karakorum Eagle AEW&C aircraft join the surviving three Saab Erieye AEW&C aircraft ordered in 2005 and delivered from 2009. One of the four Erieye aircraft was destroyed in a terrorist attack on Kamra Air Base in August 2012.

That the Air Force operates two types of AEW&C aircraft for the same mission has been much commented on.

Analyst Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank says the Karakorum Eagle's mission is "[b]asically the same job as Erieye but based in southern sector.

"To cover all the length of Pakistan we needed additional AEW&C aircraft and ZDK-03 was the answer due to political and financial considerations," he said.

Former Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail says the PAF was not keen on their purchase.

"The [Karakorum] Eagle was purchased rather reluctantly, under pressure of [then President] Gen. Musharraf, as a political expedient [Chinese appeasement], and not because of any reasons of technical superiority," he said. "It would have been more cost effective to manage a single type than these two vastly different ones."

Though he now believes attitudes have changed.

"Having said that, the performance of the Eagle has turned out to be surprisingly good, which takes some sting out of the initial criticism," he said.

Tufail says an absence of news of the fourth aircraft being delivered may mean it is undergoing installation of Link 16 datalink equipment to enable it to communicate with all of the PAF's aircraft, particularly its F-16s, and not just the JF-17 Thunders.

To date the Erieye AEW&C aircraft have been able to communicate with the Western aircraft in service such as the F-16, and the Karakorum Eagle with the Chinese aircraft such as the Sino-Pak JF-17, and perhaps the F-7PG.

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/air-space/air-force/2015/02/28/pakistan-re-equips-squadron-with-new-aewc-aircraft/24140709/
Riaz Haq said…
#America's post-911 national security industry spawns new university programs & career options #NSA #CIA #BigData https://news.vice.com/article/the-most-militarized-universities-in-america-a-vice-news-investigation …

An information and intelligence shift has emerged in America's national security state over the last two decades, and that change has been reflected in the country's educational institutions as they have become increasingly tied to the military, intelligence, and law enforcement worlds. This is why VICE News has analyzed and ranked the 100 most militarized universities in America.

Initially, we hesitated to use the term militarized to describe these schools. The term was not meant to simply evoke robust campus police forces or ROTC drills held on a campus quad. It was also a measure of university labs funded by US intelligence agencies, administrators with strong ties to those same agencies, and, most importantly, the educational backgrounds of the approximately 1.4 million people who hold Top Secret clearance in the United States.

But ultimately, we came to believe that no term sums up all of those elements better than militarized. Today's national security state includes a growing cadre of technicians and security professionals who sit at computers and manage vast amounts of data; they far outnumber conventional soldiers and spies. And as the skills demanded from these digital warriors have evolved, higher education has evolved with them.

The 100 schools named in the VICE News rankings produce the greatest number of students who are employed by the Intelligence Community (IC), have the closest relationships with the national security state, and profit the most from American war-waging.

National security-related degree programs cater not just to new technologies and education needs, but also to the careers of a regimented workforce, offering distance learning, flexible credits, and easy transfers to accommodate frequent deployments, assignment changes, and shift work.

Four categories of institutions of higher education dominate the VICE News list of the 100 most militarized universities in America: schools whose students attain their degrees predominantly online; schools that are heavily involved in research and development for defense, intelligence, and security clients; schools in the Washington, DC area; and schools that are newly focused on homeland security.

Twenty of the top 100 schools that instruct people working in intelligence agencies, the military, and the worlds of law enforcement and homeland security — including their private contractor counterparts — are effectively online diploma mills. Twelve are for-profit companies; several didn't exist before 9/11. The schools have become so important that two of them, American Military University (No. 2) and the University of Phoenix (No. 3), rank near the top of the list based on the sheer number of their graduates working in the Top Secret world.

Seventeen of the 100 top schools are in the Washington, DC area, reflecting the concentration of all things national security around the nation's capital. The University of Maryland handily outranks all other schools at number one, while Georgetown University (No. 10), George Washington University (No. 4), and American University (No. 20) — all considered among the country's 10 best schools for the study of international relations — rank among the top 25 most militarized schools. But post-9/11 growth in homeland security and a high demand for cyber training boost schools as diverse as George Mason (No. 5), Northern Virginia Community College (No. 16), and Strayer University (No. 8), a predominantly online school headquartered in Herndon, Virginia.

https://news.vice.com/article/the-most-militarized-universities-in-america-a-vice-news-investigation
Riaz Haq said…
Journalist Warns Cyber Attacks Present A 'Perfect Weapon' Against Global Order

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/19/621338178/journalist-warns-cyber-attacks-present-a-perfect-weapon-against-global-order


DAVIES: Right. I mean, obviously, to conduct the kind of disabling cyberattack that would shut down a lot of a country's infrastructure, you have to have done a lot of work beforehand. I want to be clear about this. Are we saying that we know that there are implants in our power grid which would enable the Russians or someone else to take it down?

SANGER: We know that there are implants in our power grid. Interesting question is, if somebody made use of it, how good would it be at taking it down? And that's why for the electric utility industry and for the financial industry, they've invested a huge amount in redundancy and resilience so that if you lose some set of power plants, you could contain it, route around it and be able to pick up and go on. And you just don't know until things happen how well your adversary has wired your system to take everything down. And as you said, this takes a lot of time. The United States spent years getting inside the Iranian centrifuges at Natanz and even then had to keep working on the software to improve it. The North Koreans, when they went into Sony Pictures in 2014 in retaliation for the release of a really terrible movie called "The Interview" that envisioned the assassination of Kim Jong Un, the same friendly Kim Jong Un we all saw in Singapore the other day - when the North Koreans went in, they went in in early September of 2014. They didn't strike until around Thanksgiving because it took all that time just to map out the interconnections of the electrical system, of the computer system, and when they did strike, it was devastating. They took out 70 percent of Sony's computer servers and hard drives.

DAVIES: OK. In this book, you say that, you know, cyberwarfare is the kind of game-changing innovation that's - you compare it to the introduction of aircraft into warfare in the early 20th century and that we are still figuring out what rules or conventions should apply to it. I want to get to some of that conversation, but let's talk a bit about some of the experience that we've had over the last 10 years. You write that in 2008, a woman at the National Security Agency, Debora Plunkett, discovers something about the classified networks in the Pentagon that's troubling. What did she find?

SANGER: Well, she was overseeing security at the NSA, and somebody came to her with evidence that the Russians - though the U.S. did not announce it was Russians at the time - were deep into something called the SIPRNet, which is basically a classified network by which the Defense Department, some of the intelligence agencies, sometimes the State Department, communicate with each other. And this was a big shock to everybody because they had seen the Russians in unclassified systems before, but here they were deep into a classified system. And the first question was, how'd they get in? And the answer was so simple that it really was a wakeup call. Somebody had distributed little USB keys, you know, the kinds you get at conventions and all those kinds of...
Riaz Haq said…
China-Pakistan satellite nexus affects India’s war strategy

http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-china-pakistan-satellite-nexus-affects-india-s-war-strategy-2650312

China’s commercial interests in the South Asian space market have expanded into the security sphere, with it launching Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite-1 (PRSS-1). This is ostensibly a crop and resources monitoring platform, but the military utility is obvious. The satellite was built by China, which is already investing in a high resolution remote sensing constellation “Yaogan”, possessing sophisticated electro-optic and radar sensors for military purposes. These satellites play a critical role in China’s Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile project, feeding time sensitive information for the missile launch and manoeuvring.

Pakistan possessing such an advanced platform disrupts India’s battlefield superiority to an extent. A two-front war would stress allocation of resources and any qualitative enhancement of enemy’s forces would jeopardise India’s strategy. By acquiring satellite information, Pakistan will enhance its sensor to shooter connectivity and make precision strikes against Indian targets. This makes Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons more deadly against advancing Indian Army columns. Pakistan is already acquiring attack aircraft and warships from China, in addition to adopting its BeiDou GPS network that can give 10 cm accuracy on restricted military signal.

The utility of GPS for military operations was well established by the United States, during the Gulf War and India’s inadequacy during the Kargil conflict. The use of Cartosat imaging for surgical strikes demonstrates the role played by remote sensing satellites. Therefore, Pakistan’s enhancement of its military capabilities, using space assets must be dominated by India improving its network-centric capabilities, including satellites. The inclusion of private industry in satellite manufacturing and launch vehicle operations should help remove the bottlenecks and improve India’s space advantages qualitatively and quantitatively.
Riaz Haq said…
Deepfakes, AI & Digital Soldiers: Challenges of Cross-Domain Coercion for Pakistan

http://pakistanpolitico.com/deepfakes-ai-digital-soldiers-challenges-of-cross-domain-coercion-for-pakistan/

Let’s begin by asking a question: Why would ANY state not want to achieve capabilities where it could advance its strategic interests by evading attribution or risk of escalation (at least initially), without firing a single conventional shot? As Bob Dylan would say, the times they are a-changin.

https://tnsr.org/2020/07/wormhole-escalation-in-the-new-nuclear-age/

I have formulated my response to this question in the light of Rebecca Hersman’s incredibly brilliant articulation of the new nuclear paradox in her article ‘Wormhole Escalation’. She explains the new nuclear paradox as follows:

“As states drive to compete and win at the sub-conventional level — in the gray zone — the risk of strategic crisis may increase, even as the risk of conventional conflict between nuclear-armed states declines.”

She looks at the changing landscape of escalation and how it will come about and be perceived between adversaries, and questions the validity or utility of Herman Kahn’s 44-rung escalation ladder, which until now was continuous and linear. The gray zone, in which AI generated, fabricated, deep fake news operates, complicates the universally shared conceptions of deterrence. Across the full spectrum of conflict, the cross-domain coercion tools available to states are numerous and impactful: through digital soldiers, “nuclear powers can now engage their adversary’s core strategic interests directly, coercively and below the traditional form of armed conflict as we all know it or have theorized about.”

1.The character of conflict is changing: Growing asymmetry between states who are advancing towards acquiring disruptive technologies will upset the levels of conflict and our understanding of it: sub-conventional tactics that are non-nuclear, information based, have the potential to achieve strategic objectives. The conflict is no longer about only territorial claims or land grabs inviting direct contact with the enemy. The conflict in the cyber domain is non-linear and has the potential to dissuade your adversary to choose a particular action, whereby it places you in coercion dominance. Your defined thresholds are bound to change. If your adversary is able to achieve strategic objectives, through contactless, human proxy-less (digital soldiers are proxies too), non-nuclear, technology, how would that shape your definition of armed attack or act of aggression? Pakistan’s nuclear thresholds, would need to be redefined and re-studied in that context to include how disruptive technologies will impact Pakistan’s conventional and nuclear responses. Offensive posturing or strategy against hostile use of technologies will need to be developed. Not only will the character of conflict change, but the size of conflict, and the nature of its destruction will also change. So Pakistan would need to think how to counter-strategize against this one in particular.

Riaz Haq said…
Deepfakes, AI & Digital Soldiers: Challenges of Cross-Domain Coercion for Pakistan

http://pakistanpolitico.com/deepfakes-ai-digital-soldiers-challenges-of-cross-domain-coercion-for-pakistan/

2.The changing nature of warfare: Hypersonic weapons, networked militaries, advanced sensors, technologies that can disrupt your conventional and nuclear situational awareness, drone swarms, robotics, lasers, 5G/6G technology, quantum computing, big data analytics, algorithmic warfare, network centric cyber attacks, autonomous surveillance and weapons systems all are contributing to the changing nature of warfare and have in fact revolutionized it. A combination of these disruptive technologies will make crisis unpredictable. Most if not all of these disruptive technologies are dual-use. While they have the capability to blur the lines between conventional and nuclear use, and your enemy’s perception of it, the efficiency, accuracy and speed they provide to offensive military systems and weapons will dilute traditional deterrence. Therefore, once this understanding is achieved that the nature of warfare is altered due to advancements and inductions of these disruptive technologies or a combination of them, doctrinal changes would need to be made in order to enhance the credibility of one’s deterrence. Not only that, new forms of deterrence are being created, through cross-domain coercion for example, which would require capabilities that can strengthen the eroding or fragile deterrence. Pakistan would need to undertake a very critical situational analysis of India’s capabilities as it sets out to acquire disruptive technologies, the ones India can induct and employ against Pakistan, which have the potential to provide it cross-domain coercion.

3.Eroding Models of Crisis Management: Layers of complexity has been added into the traditional models of crisis management. Since the crisis itself and its triggers are becoming unpredictable, since the 44 rungs of escalation ladder is no longer linear, since gray zones created by disruptive technologies have added invisible rungs to the traditional ladder, having the potential to create strategic blindness, the nature of management of such a crisis will also become more complex. The tools to generate and shape a crisis through manipulation of information, or creation of conflicting data points, is bound to create a crisis of communication, which can erode a country’s confidence, thus pushing it to adopt, hastily acquired, escalatory measures, before a third party has a chance to intervene. If a country is pushed into a corner where it is made to believe, through fabricated, deep fake information, disrupting its entire communication ecosystem, that the first move is its only move, and if it does not act now then all will be lost, you can imagine the aftermath.

In view of these three areas of analysis, strategic stability in South Asia which already was fragile has become more precarious. I see strategic stability as a combination of deterrence stability and crisis stability, and disruptive technologies disturb both, deterrence and crisis stability.

Pakistan needs to undertake doctrinal changes to redesign its conventional and nuclear thresholds. I believe that given how far countries have already gone to acquire an edge over the other with respect to the acquisition of disruptive technologies, has already out-dated the doctrines, policies, and strategies of all strategic organizations and actors involved, and Pakistan is not unique to it.

Riaz Haq said…
Wormhole Escalation in the New Nuclear Age
Rebecca Hersman
Increasingly capable and intrusive digital information technologies, advanced dual-use military capabilities, and diffused global power structures will reshape future crises and conflicts between nuclear-armed adversaries and challenge traditional ways of thinking about escalation and stability. This emerging security environment will require new concepts and tools to manage the risk of unintended escalation and reduce nuclear dangers.

https://tnsr.org/2020/07/wormhole-escalation-in-the-new-nuclear-age/

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The India-Pakistan crisis in February 2019, which culminated with widespread disinformation and highly escalatory rhetoric on both sides demonstrates the potential “out of control” nature of sub-conventional information warfare. In the immediate aftermath of the terror attack in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state that killed 40 Indian paramilitary members, an aggressive disinformation campaign was launched to link the incident to India’s upcoming parliamentary elections.27Notably, disinformation spread via WhatsApp that claimed that a leader of the Indian National Congress party, the opposition party, had offered a bribe to the suicide bomber’s family.28 Additional narratives were also disseminated, many of which portrayed the opposition party as “being soft on militancy”29 in Kashmir. Because Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party had 1.2 million volunteers operating the party’s social media campaign for the elections, misinformation and false narratives about the escalating crisis with Pakistan spread rampantly. In the days following the attack in Kashmir, Facebook removed hundreds of fake accounts linked to Indian political parties and Pakistan’s military. Yet, this disinformation campaign ultimately reached over 2.8 million Facebook users.30 What was once intended to influence domestic politics to bolster support for the Bharatiya Janata Party seemed to spiral out of control even as both countries came to the brink of a broader military conflict.


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These strategies of strategic competition in the sub-conventional domain may not be entirely new, but the tools that enable them have transformed the strategic significance of the unconventional battlespace and the coercive power of hybrid warfare. Fueled by technological innovation — particularly in digital media-based technology as well as cyber operations, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning — today’s competitive landscape is more complex and dynamic than before. The growing number of weapons in the sub-conventional arsenal include a range of kinetic and non-kinetic coercive tools, tactics, and strategies. The rise of the cyber domain; connectivity of global commerce, finance, and communications; speed and penetration of the internet; and prevalence and intimacy of social media that reaches nearly 40 percent of the world’s population have reshaped the competitive domain now commonly called the “gray zone”.3 Today’s proxies and surrogates look more like online trolls who wander freely inside one’s digital homeland, enabled by advanced cyber and disinformation tools and weaponized social media, rather than armed guerillas fighting internal wars with black-market weaponry in distant territories. Moreover, these new forms of influence and information warfare are not the exclusive domain of great powers. Rather, the accessibility of information technology suggests a leveling of the playing field for great powers, non-state actors, states, and non-government entities alike.
Riaz Haq said…
Wormhole Escalation in the New Nuclear Age
Rebecca Hersman
Increasingly capable and intrusive digital information technologies, advanced dual-use military capabilities, and diffused global power structures will reshape future crises and conflicts between nuclear-armed adversaries and challenge traditional ways of thinking about escalation and stability. This emerging security environment will require new concepts and tools to manage the risk of unintended escalation and reduce nuclear dangers.

https://tnsr.org/2020/07/wormhole-escalation-in-the-new-nuclear-age/

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Ultimately, misinformation and disinformation brought the most basic facts of the crisis into dispute. On February 26, the Indian Air Force (IAF) launched airstrikes against targets it said were terrorist bases in Balakot, Pakistan. In retaliation, Pakistan sent fighter planes over the Line of Control to bomb Indian administered Kashmir. During the resulting firefight, Pakistan shot down an Indian MiG-21 fighter jet and captured its pilot.31 Subsequently, India claimed that the IAF pilot shot down one of Pakistan’s F-16 fighter planes before his jet was downed. In an April 2019 Foreign Policy article, two U.S. defense officials stated that the United States had counted Pakistan’s F-16s and found none missing.32 The next day, Indian press refuted the U.S. report in The Wire, saying that radio signature confirmed the downed aircraft.33 Such an incident should have been easy to fact check, but instead the episode remains in truth limbo. This contradiction of facts in the F-16 case represents a wider rift in U.S.-India reporting of the incident, and possibly an information vulnerability that Pakistan could capitalize on in the future. In a Washington Post article, South Asia experts Sameer Lalwani and Emily Tallo stated, “This [incident] will no doubt raise questions both inside and outside of India about the [Indian Air Forces’s] conventional advantage if it is unable to punish a weaker adversary to reestablish deterrence.”34

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This crisis also raised troubling questions about the informational basis on which strategic stability rests. By creating and propagating their own alternative, and even incompatible, perceptions of victory, can states secure the benefits of de-escalation while forgoing the political costs of military defeat? This appears to have been the outcome of the 2019 Pulwama crisis, and yet this would seem to be a shaky foundation for sustaining strategic stability between nuclear-armed adversaries. Rather, in stability terms, such a “victory” may simply be borrowed time — a house of cards ready to collapse even more precipitously with the next crisis. Moreover, this dynamic suggests that information and influence campaigns can take on a highly competitive dynamic with each subsequent crisis raising the information escalation threshold — a form of “disinformation racing.” How India or Pakistan, or even China, might seek to use this chaotic stream of disinformation and its escalatory effect to its advantage in the future merits closer examination, as does the vulnerability of the United States to similar dynamics and pressures, especially when employed against partners and allies as a decoupling strategy.

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