According to General Bipin Rawat, the chief of defence staff, China has a technological advantage over India and is capable of launching cyber-attacks on it. India’s cyber agencies can build firewalls, but it will be interesting to see how quickly they can respond to such an attack, he said.
Closer cooperation, followed by integration of the three armed forces, is one way to bridge the gap. In response to a question about when India would “fully catch up,” he suggested that New Delhi’s relations with some Western countries could be beneficial.
Speaking of new forms of warfare, he mentioned cyberattacks, and how, because they lack “signatures,” it will be more difficult to determine where the attack originated because there can be “deniability.” Such attacks would target targets in the “depth areas” rather than the border regions. Speaking of the need for new technology, he stated unequivocally that if the armed forces do not embrace new technology that is as useful as “boots on the ground” for warfighting, intelligence gathering, and logistical work, it may be too late.
He stated that artificial intelligence is being used for predictive maintenance and by the Navy for the “underwater domain,” but that “we have clearly lagged behind.” He stated that the situation is the same when it comes to quantum computing. “We have not made satisfactory progress,” he added, “but we have made a start.” The CDS stated that women were proving to be effective at these tasks.
When discussing the need for closer cooperation among the three services and, eventually, integration, the CDS mentioned the need for an integrated air defense command. He currently regretted that the army, navy, and air force all have air defense systems, but they do not communicate with one another due to different algorithms.
Another thorny issue was also raised by the CDS. Demand for all three services was increasing, and there were currently about 1.4 million people in uniform if the Rashtriya Rifles and Border Roads Organisation were counted. He believed that it was critical to reduce manpower while replacing it with better technology in terms of surveillance and firepower.