The subject is a repeat. The substance; only partially so. This is a subject close to my heart and an issue that needs attention with an increasing urgency. I have been trying to peddle this idea for more than a decade but, with very indifferent success.

It was the American War of Independence that finally established the well-known fact; wars are won, not by militaries alone, but by nations. Unless a nation is united, the mightiest military could well fail to achieve victory. In our recent history this truism was again driven home.

At the turn of the century, the military’s efforts to retake Swat from the TTP failed repeatedly as long as the nation favored peace talks. It was only when peace was given a chance in 2009 and, TTP demonstrated its brand of Islamic justice that the nation finally united in favor of the use of force and, the military of a united nation won.

All militaries, all over the world, carry out a periodic threat assessment and, on the basis of this assessment, and within budgetary constraints, configure their response. Since most countries cannot afford to fulfill their wish-list, the challenge is invariably, how best to balance a workable response within the constraints.

In more recent times, we are all aware that the dimensions of threat [and security] have multiplied. Security includes food, health, jobs, etc. but, even if we confine threat to the more conventional form of security; even that has multiplied and, not only due to domestic insurgencies.

When we began looking at Fifth Generation Warfare, 5GW, also known as Hybrid Wars, it included economics, electronics, space, media, perception management, food and water. Since then, the concept of Hybrid Wars espoused by Andrew Korybko, has added another angle to it i.e. when powerful countries with powerful militaries target their enemies indirectly and choose to exploit existing fault-lines to create and foster domestic unrest in weaker nations; which are allied with their enemy.

Korybko gives two examples of his concept; both by US targeting its enemies, both of which I agree with; that of targeting the Russian “Eurasian Corridor” by exploiting schisms in Ukraine and targeting the Chinese flagship CPEC operation in Pakistan. The latter enjoys the participation of Israel and India. Furthermore, the latter operation naturally spills over to target another thorn in the US side; Iran.

In this context, the assessment of the threat has become increasingly complex and imperative. Even more so for a country that is linear in shape, beset with multiple enemies on both elongated flanks and has to dig its way out of a very deep grave.

Knowing the military mind, I have no doubt that their threat assessment is all-inclusive and, their response options most comprehensive; having considered all options, including the impossible ones. The problem, however, is that militaries come into action when the application of force has become the preferred national option, or a part of the preferred national option.

But, this decision is for the national government to take i.e. to prefer or to include the use of force as the national option. Furthermore, many of the threats mentioned here do not include the use of force and each one could, independently destroy a nation without the use of force.

What would we then do with our militaries and weapons of mass destruction? It is for this reason that the entire gamut of the national threat should be discussed at the national level and response options discussed by experts of respective subjects.

How can militaries defend us against economic threats, or electronic ones, or against a media blitz, or any one of those listed above? Even Hybrid Wars? If a Hybrid War has not been preempted and has been initiated by the enemy, it must be stopped by non-military means. If it has neither been preempted nor prevented and force is required, the enemy has already won the first half of the war.

And, the longer a hybrid war continues, and the greater the reliance on the use of force, the more the likelihood of defeat to the military. A Hybrid War must fought and won by non-military options; or be lost.

As an aside, but a relevant example, the threat assessment of an air blitz by Germany against England resulted in the mass construction of bomb-shelters, which were immensely useful during the blitz. Later, during the Cold War era, the threat of nuclear weapons, caused US and Russia to take numerous steps to safeguard against losing their entire political leadership to a nuclear threat. These precautions are still in vogue, and have been improved upon.

Admittedly both examples above concern a military threat. However, the significance is that the threat assessment, response, and the decision were all taken and implemented at the national level. It is time, and more that the assessment and possible response options are assigned to the National Security Adviser, who should receive input from the JSHQ, and the response(s) selected by the PM [and cabinet].

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