Cognitive Warfare

Context- The article discusses the rising importance of cognitive warfare, especially in cyber
capabilities, among global powers like China and Russia. It highlights their strategies in
information manipulation and suggests that India needs to rapidly enhance its defenses and
strategies in this evolving cyber and cognitive battlefield.
What is cognitive warfare?

  • Cognitive warfare aims to impact decision-making by using tools like misinformation. It
    relies heavily on the cyber domain, using tools and strategies to manipulate, distort, and
    impede decision-making across various aspects of statecraft.
    What are the various approaches used to wage cognitive warfare?
    China’s Approach
  • PLA Strategic Support Force (PLASSF): China utilizes the PLA Strategic Support Force,
    created in 2015, for cognitive warfare.
  • Information Manipulation Abroad: China spends billions annually.
  • Disrupt Military Systems and Spread Confusion: The force can disrupt military systems
    and infrastructure and spread confusion via social media narratives.
    Russia’s Strategy
  • Early Cyber Strategies: Russia employed early cyber strategies, disrupting financial
    sectors and allegedly U.S. elections.
  • Support for Oligarchs and Political Narratives: By using social media as a tool.
  • Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Utilizing cyber strategies for influencing and disrupting.
    India’s Perspective
  • Accelerating Development in Cognitive Warfare: India needs to accelerate the
    development of defensive and offensive capabilities in cognitive warfare.
  • Recognizing Vulnerabilities: Inferred; considering the detailing about the growing
    influence and its resultant vulnerabilities.
  • Resilient Structures: Despite having resilient democratic and military structures, there’s a
    call for enhanced strategic communication and updated cyber structures.
  • Swift Integration and Avoidance of Delays: There’s a stress on swift integration and
    avoidance of delays in building comprehensive cognitive warfare capabilities.
    Why is fast adoption and strategy evolution crucial?
    Pervasive Impact
  • China and Russia are spending notably on cognitive warfare, exemplifying its profound
    impact on geopolitics and security.
    Maintaining Parity
  • The example of the U.S. taking 58 years to transition from a space command to a space
    force underscores the risk of falling behind in rapid technological and warfare advances.
  • Competing nations are accelerating their capabilities and a delayed response can lead to
    Preventing Exploitation
  • The construction of China’s PLASSF demonstrates how countries are institutionalizing
    cognitive warfare, allowing them to potentially exploit adversaries’ societal, military, and
    infrastructural dimensions.
  • This structurized approach can mean a single-minded strategy targeted at exploiting
    vulnerabilities in opposing nations.
    Ensuring National Security
  • The increasing use of cyberspace for cognitive warfare necessitates rapid adoption and
    evolution of strategies to safeguard a nation’s security frameworks and societal
    structures against manipulative cyber activities and narratives.