The need of the hour is to analyse China’s capabilities for ‘informationised and intelligentised’ warfare and bridge the gap.
In his new book The Last War: How AI Will Shape India’s Final Showdown With China, Pravin Sawhney, the editor of FORCE magazine, disquietingly forebodes a grim scenario for 2024: “If India and China were to fight a war in the near future, India faces the prospect of losing the war within 10 days. China could take Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh with a minimum loss of life, and there is very little that India could do about it.” Is it the imagination of a defence analyst running wild? Far from it — such scenarios have been predicted by other analysts too.
A US military blog, Mad Scientist, which looks at the future of warfare, visualised a similar scenario for 2035 in February 2020, wherein China, in collusion with Pakistan, defeats India in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. At the tactical level, in the early days of the crisis in Eastern Ladakh, I examined China’s high-technology attack with its existing capabilities for which, also, the Indian Army is ill-prepared.
Of course, the above doomsday predictions come with a caveat of how fast the Indian military can reform itself. My only disagreement is with Pravin’s timelines. In my view, the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as visualised by him will fructify in a decade and a full-spectrum AI-driven war capability will take another decade.