Art of New Age War
Ali Ahmad
ARMY OF NONE: AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS AND THE FUTURE OF WAR by Paul Scharre W. W. Norton & Company, 2019, 448 pp., 1549
December 2019, volume 43, No 12

Ali Ahmad
By Paul Scharre
W. Norton & Company, 2018, pp. 448, R1549.00

The book’s cover has appreciative lines by Bill Gates, who–as the cliché goes—needs no introduction, and Lawrence Freedman, who may need an introduction only for those from fields other than strategic studies, being the doyen of the field. Since Gates knows technology and Freedman focuses on war, their recommendation places the book on the frontline of technology and war.

It is no wonder that at the time of writing of this review, the headlines have it that the army’s Jaipur-based South Western Command is organizing a seminar at Hisar to get to grips with Artificial Intelligence and military operations. The media reports the seminar organizers modestly acknowledging that though the military has taken note of the advances abroad, including China, it is never too late to catch up. Clearly, here is the book to help them tank up.

Even so, a headline alongside says that India is going in for another 1000 plus armoured personnel carriers. This underlines a well-known trait in most militaries—apparently more pronounced in the Indian one—that it is easier to get a new idea into its head than to get an older one out. So long as the three services are busy throwing governmental largesse—set at $130 billion over the coming ten years—on platforms such as fighters, ships and tanks, it is unlikely India will ‘catch up’ this decade. From what Scharre informs through his 446-page book, it would be too late.

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