Fourth Generation Warfare and the Challenges in Military-News Media Relations in India

Fourth Generation Warfare and the Challenges in Military-News Media Relations in India

Ramakrishnan Ramani
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3859-2.ch001
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Can there be a symbiotic relationship between the armed forces and the private conventional news media in a country with a democratic setup? What are the issues that come between these two entities especially in a complex scenario such as Fourth Generation Warfare? The objective of this chapter is to study these challenges in the relationship between the two institutions in the setting of fourth generation warfare in India. It presents areas of divergence that have been critical in the efficient symbiotic functioning of these two institutions.
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“Every war must end, but this tug of war between the media and the military with the information as its bone of contention has no end in sight. This love–hate relationship between the two is the greatest hindrance in the task of preserving national security,” says popular journalist and Nehruvian scholar, Manikonda Chalapathi Rau (Saxena, 1997). A profound statement and one that is increasingly proving correct as Fourth Generation Warfare is ever more becoming a reality of conflict in the subcontinent – cases in point being the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and the January 2016 attack on the Pathankot airbase.

What Is Fourth Generation Warfare?

Major scientific and doctrinal developments spurred by socio-political transformation have constituted significant changes in the way wars have been fought. Most military engagements since the early 1990s (since the fall of the Soviet Union) are typically of the ‘Fourth Generation’ a generation in which the “tactics of the weak confound the tactics of the strong” (Wilson, Sullivan, & Kempfer, 2003). Today’s international environment is defined by this reality. People, the world over, including India are witnessing sub-national ‘non-state’ actors use guerrilla tactics, insurrection, sabotage and terrorism to subvert nations and challenge the established international system and the very concept of the ‘nation-state’.

Fourth Generation Warfare is a transition in the way wars are fought – traditional military might is avoided; the focus is shifted from high technology to ideology. Conflict shifts from simply destroying military targets and regular conventional forces to socio-economic, religious or political centres.

William S. Lind states, “In Fourth Generation war, the state loses its monopoly on war. All over the world, state militaries find themselves fighting non-state opponents such as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Almost everywhere, the state is losing. Fourth Generation war is also marked by a return to a world of cultures, not merely states, in conflict. We now find ourselves facing the Christian West’s oldest and most steadfast opponent, Islam” (Lind, 2004).

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