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Decoding Chinese Thoughts ; By Cmde. Vijesh Kumar Garg, VSM (Retd.)

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Article 20/2022

An article written by two Chinese scholars  Gao Kai and Chen Cheng (as understood with Google translated version & with help of a mandarin interpreter)  explains how “Land is still important in the era of information warfare”(original article in Mandarin) published in China Military Network publication dated 05 May 2022.

Authors assert that in the age of information warfare, three rights that have emerged newly are:

  1. Right to control information

  2. Right to control intellectual property

  3. Right to control cognition

Authors assert that land control still matters in the era of information warfare because of three reasons:

  1. Land Control in the Age of Information Warfare

When wars are fought, taking control of land or adversary’s territory is an important marker of the advances and victories. But in information warfare, where the fight is for intangible space and minds of people, how does the control over physical land factor in?

  1. Control over land ensures comprehensive control– Since the command center, support resources, and technical personnel are still on land, security, and control on land means the security of operations.

  2. Control over land ensures systemic confrontation– As authors have pointed out, “no matter how the strategic pattern and the form of war evolve, the land area is still an important area that determines the outcome of a war, and land control will still be a systemic confrontation.” The land system is also effective to reduce the “entropy” of the system and ensure that the “entropy value” of each system within the system is the lowest.

  3. Controlling land becomes the foundation of victory and defeat– Authors have acknowledged the importance of obtaining control over land as an important factor in defining victory.

Further, the way control over land is viewed in the intelligent era is also changing in the following ways (excerpts from article):

  1. Expansion from flat land system to a three-dimensional land system: The acquisition of land control in modern warfare is no longer a “patented” project of the Army, but a joint power seizure operation by combined efforts of all services and arms.

  2. Expansion from traditional land control to new quality land control: With the advent of precision operations and multi-domain operations, long-distance combat forces such as army aviation, special warfare, and long-range fire will become the focus of army construction in various countries, and will gradually become the protagonists of future land based battlefields.

  3. Expansion from “visible” land control to “invisible” land control: Modern War is affected by the mixed constraints of the physical domain, the information domain, and the cognitive domain. In modern warfare dominated by information and intelligence, the land battlefield is not only a wrestling field for the release of mechanical, chemical, and other tangible energies, but also an arena in which invisible forces such as information and cognition will inevitably promote the expansion of the competition for land control from “tangible” land control to “invisible” land control.

  4. Expansion from manned land to unmanned land: Refers to acquiring control of land using unmanned systems.

Lastly, Gao and Chen emphasize that controlling land in the intelligent era requires multi-domain policies. For that authors have suggested the steps:

  1. First, gather elite troops to control the land locally.

  2. Second, quickly and accurately control the land with wide-area firepower.

  3. Third, to build a network, build a chain, and control the land in multiple domains.

  4. Fourth, control the entire cognitive domain.

  5. Strategic Deception in Cognitive Warfare

Strategic deception refers to the manipulation of perceptions to gain an advantage over an adversary. Three Chinese scholars Chen Xiaoqian, Xin Song, and Qiu Hao (As understood  Google translated version& with help of a mandarin interpreter)explained in their article  “The importance of strategic deception in cognitive warfare”(original article in Mandarin) published in China Military Network publication dated 05 May 2022.

The following excerpt from the article sums up key arguments:

“Strategic deception is an important means to achieve political and military goals and maintain the security of strategic decision-making. It is an important form of cognitive confrontation. It has become a powerful weapon to seize the strategic initiative and improve strategic positions. Historical practice shows that strategic deception serving the grand strategy can often deceive the opponent in making decisions, consume the opponent’s energy, delay the opponent’s time, divide the opponent’s alliance, and even have the effect of affecting the game trend.”

Though the article is long, the key takeaways as conveyed  are:

  1. Strategic deception offers a better return and cost advantage over other methods

  2. Intelligent systems play an important role in providing strategic advantage, especially with algorithmic warfare and data warfare.

  3. Strategic deception can be obtained using decoys and peripheral penetration using methods like social information/perception and cognitive networking.

  4. The key to whether the strategic deception operation can achieve the strategic purpose mainly consists of five steps:

  5. Analyzing the situation and tasks

  6. Confirming the target of the deception action

  7. Analyzing the cognition and behavioral expectations of the deceived object

  8. Designing the deception matrix/complex

  9. Confirming the feedback channel and feasible alternatives

  10. Cognitive modeling can help design an appropriate strategic deception.

  11. Deep fake technology and virtual reality can facilitate dynamic strategic deception targeted toward a specific person.

(Commodore Vijesh Kumar Garg, VSM is Executive Director of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. The views expressed are personal.)

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