When necessary, the Mongols used superior Chinese engineering for successful sieges. Other conquerors, such as the Romans, Europeans, Aztecs and Zulus, brought superior technology, discipline, training and leadership to the battlefield. Rebels in anticolonial wars also relied on asymmetry by weaving guerrilla operations, protracted warfare, political warfare and a willingness to sacrifice into Maoist People's War, the Intifada and the troubles of Northern Ireland.
Throughout the Cold War, asymmetry was important to US strategic thinking but was not labeled as such.
Other concepts such as Massive Retaliation in the s or the maritime strategy in the s elevated asymmetry to an even higher plane. Since the global power distribution was asymmetric, it followed that asymmetric strategies would naturally evolve. Explicit mention of asymmetry first appeared in the Joint Publication 1, Joint Warfare of the Armed Forces of the United States, but the concept was used in a very simplistic, limited sense?
The doctrine defined asymmetric engagements as those between dissimilar forces, specifically air verse land, air versus sea and so forth.
A Theory of Asymmetric Warfare
The National Military Strategy approached the issue somewhat more broadly, listing terrorism, using or threatening to use weapons of mass destruction and information warfare as asymmetric challenges. In asymmetric threats began to receive greater attention. The Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review stated, "US dominance in the conventional military arena may encourage adversaries to The panel reported: "We can assume that our enemies and future adversaries have learned from the Gulf War.
They are unlikely to confront us conventionally with mass armor formations, air superiority forces, and deep-water naval fleets of their own, all areas of overwhelming US strength today. Instead, they may find new ways to attack our interests, our forces and our citizens. But, unlike the United States and China, Russia lags behind in research and development on AI and other emerging technologies. The U. As a consequence, the country trails the United States and China in terms of private investment, scientific research, and the number of AI start-ups.
China’s neighbours embrace asymmetric warfare
Unlike Silicon Valley, Skolkovo did not spur the kind of private investments and innovation that the Kremlin had hoped for and has since fizzled out. Taken together, the economic and demographic trends signal that in the AI race, Russia will be unable to match China on government investment or compete with the United States on private sector innovation.
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Strategically, such a wide gap between ambition and capacity means that Russia will need to invest its limited resources carefully. Currently, Moscow is pursuing investments in at least two directions: select conventional military and defense technologies where the Kremlin believes it can still hold comparative advantage over the West and high-impact, low-cost asymmetric warfare to correct the imbalance between Russia and the West in the conventional domain. The latter—the implications of AI for asymmetric political warfare—remains unexplored.
At home, this has meant repression of independent media and civil society, state control of traditional and digital media, and deepening government surveillance. The government is also experimenting with facial recognition technologies in conjunction with CCTV. Moscow alone has approximately , cameras, at least 5, of which have been outfitted with facial recognition technology from NTechLabs. Telegram, one of the few homegrown Russian tech companies, refused to hand over its encryption keys to the FSB in early Unlike Beijing, which has effectively sought to censor and control the internet as new technologies have developed, Moscow has not been able to implement similar controls preemptively.
The result is that even a relatively small company like Telegram is able to outmaneuver and embarrass the Russian state. Externally, Russian information warfare informatsionaya voyna has become part and parcel of Russian strategic thinking in foreign policy. Information warfare or information manipulation 19 has emerged as a core component of a broader influence strategy.
At the same time, the line between conventional or traditional and nonconventional or asymmetric warfare has blurred in Russian military thinking. The theory is broader than the narrow definition of military deception. In the conventional military domain, it includes the deployment of decoys, camouflage, and misleading information to deceive the enemy on the battlefield.
So is the use of fake weapons and heavy machinery: one Russian company is producing an army of inflatable missiles, tanks, and jets that appear real in satellite imagery.
Revolution in Military Affairs - Wikipedia
Maskirovka, as a theory and operational practice, also applies to nonmilitary asymmetric operations. Modern Russian disinformation and cyber attacks against the West rely on obfuscation and deception in line with the guiding principles of maskirovka. During the U. Presidential elections, for example, Russian citizens working in a troll factory in St.
These personas then spread conspiracy theories, disinformation, and divisive content meant to amplify societal polarization by pitting opposing groups against each other. Russia will not be the driver or innovator of these new technologies due its financial and human capital constraints. But, as it has already done in its attacks against the West, it will continue to co-opt existing commercially available technologies to serve as weapons of asymmetric warfare.
Digital information warfare is cost-effective and high-impact, making it the perfect weapon of a technologically and economically weak power. In sum, the total known cost of the most high-profile influence operation against the United States is likely around four million dollars. The relatively low level of investment produced high returns. Since the U. Three threat vectors in particular require immediate attention. First, advances in deep learning are making synthetic media content quick, cheap, and easy to produce.
Video to Video Synthesis 32 can synthesize realistic video based a baseline of inputs.
Asymmetric Warfare: Strategic Asymmetry
Other tools can synthesize realistic photographs of AI-rendered faces, reproduce videos and audio of any world leader, 33 and synthesize street scenes to appear in a different season. Whereas most Russian disinformation content has been static e. Because audio and video can easily be shared on smart phones and do not require literacy, dynamic disinformation content will be able to reach a broader audience in more countries.
For example, in India, false videos shared through Whatsapp incited riots and murders. Russia, China, and others could harness these new publicly available technologies to undermine Western soft power or public diplomacy efforts around the world. Debunking or attributing such content will require far more resources than the cost of production, and it will be difficult if not impossible to do so in real time.
Second, advances in affective computing and natural language processing will make it easier to manipulate human emotions and extract sensitive information without ever hacking an email account. Coupled with advances in natural learning processing, such as voice recognition, this means that affective systems will be able to mimic, respond to, and predict human emotions expressed through text, voice, or facial expressions.
Some evidence suggests that humans are quite willing to form personal relationships, share deeply personal information, and interact for long periods of time with AI designed to form relationships.