Col Ashwani Sharma (Retd)


The landscape of modern warfare is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by rapid advancements in technology and evolving combat strategies. Conventional military platforms such as tanks, towed artillery guns, attack helicopters, manned combat aircraft, and aircraft carriers, which have long been the backbone of national defence strategies, now face an uncertain future.  UAVs, drones, autonomous platforms offer a glimpse into the future, capable of performing reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeted strikes with minimal risk to human life. Their cost-effectiveness, versatility, and low risk of casualty make them increasingly favoured over manned platforms. Manned Unmanned teaming is a reality and promises dividends on the battlefield. Cyber warfare further challenges the dominance of conventional platforms, with the ability to cripple a nation’s defence capabilities without firing a single shot. AI and machine learning are transforming warfare where speed of decision-making and adaptation are paramount, outpacing the capabilities of conventional systems – it is all about shortening the OODA loop.

The changing nature of global conflicts, characterised by asymmetrical warfare, urban combat, and counterinsurgency operations, demands more agile, adaptable, and cost-efficient solutions than what traditional platforms can offer. The enormous costs associated with developing, maintaining, and operating large-scale conventional forces are becoming increasingly difficult to justify, especially in a world where technological superiority can render such investments obsolete overnight.

It would however be naïve to expect overnight changes, as militaries by their sheer nature are slow to accept and adapt to changes. In my personal opinion, while conventional military platforms will continue to play a role in global defence strategies, their dominance is waning. The future of warfare is likely to be dominated by technologies that offer strategic advantages in terms of speed, stealth, intelligence, and precision.

Militaries need to revisit  their doctrines to stay ahead in an increasingly dynamic and unpredictable global security environment. Military capability, strategy, and operations must derive their effectiveness from a sound military doctrine. This foundational framework guides the principles of warfare, ensuring that military actions are cohesive, strategic, and adaptable to changing conditions. A well-crafted doctrine harmonises technological capabilities with strategic objectives, optimally deploying resources across various theatres of operation. In essence, a sound doctrine is the intellectual backbone of the military, marrying capability with strategy to ensure operations are not just reactive but are guided by a deep understanding of warfare’s evolving nature.

Entering its 18th year, the magazine’s inaugural issue delves into the future of warfare, peppered with insights on Military Technology and Geopolitics.