New era of Conflict

When is a nation at war? The other day, a website reminded me that even sometime as simple as a map is not as clear cut as we believe it to be. Is a nation at war only after the declaration by its political leaders? Consider the case of terrorists, they would probably consider themselves at war at all times against nation states which may or may not consider themselves at war, since it would dignify the terrorists to a status of equalhood.

Consider another case of peacekeepers. Sent on a mission to maintain peace in other countries, these military personnel carry out a varieties of roles which they may not be trained for. Binded by a set of Rules of Engagement, their individual conducts affects events beyond their immediate tactical environment. They are in a place of conflict yet by the definition of their country, they are not at war and thus am unable to exercise the full range of actions they are trained in. Especially in times of crisis and personal risk, they have to make calls which will not only endanger themselves but their comrades.

As we consider the paradigms of DIME, the lines are merged together, as the political limits are felt straight at the ground. Generals are handed problems while being tied one-handed behind their back by their leaders. Sun Tzu puts as one of the essentials for victory, “He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.” However, Clausewitz puts that “War is the continuation of Politik by other means.” The troops must be there to achieve political objective and yet at the same time, the political objective can restrain the soldier unnecessarily.

The Soldier of the modern era must be like a fox, no longer just a killing machine. He must be able to deliver security and rationalise within himself the very meaning of security. An order may task him to deliver food relief to certain area or even to ensure stability by controlling access to divided areas. However, when the local infrastructure forces him to deliver the food via the local warlord or a social outcast needs to escape into a safe heaven, how is he going to balance these decisions on ground? Solders, peacekeepers or guardians?


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