Is a new kind of arms race brewing?
It was back in 2008 when I came across an old 'Air & Space Power Journal' paper titled 'Russian Views on Information Based Warfare' (1996) which had a reference to a retired Russian General who characterized sixthgeneration, or "fundamentally new types of weapons," to include geophysical, electromagnetic or radio frequency, infrasonic, genetic, ethnic, psychotronic, beam, laser, and nonlethal weapons.
Now while radio frequency weapons, laser, particle beam and non-lethal weapons certainly exist (and are beginning to approach a stage where they may see wide deployment) it is the allusion here to geophysical and psychotronic weapons that falls more than the others in the realm of speculation. I don't say the same for 'infrasonic' because far more overt research has been conducted in that area and infrasonic frequencies are even believed to be associated with ghostly apparitions. And genetic or ethically targeted Bioweapons may have been explored under the Soviet 'Biopreparat' program. But true blue geophysical and psychotronic weaponry takes us firmly into territory usually inhibited by people obsessed with various HAARP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HAARP) related conspiracies for instance.
Of course to be fair, post-Soviet Russian analysts have always been rather more candid about weapons research by their country in hitherto uncharted territories and have often maintained that they actually lead the rest of the world in such areas. Concomitantly many Western commentators have dismissed these as tall claims by a Russia finding it difficult to modernise its conventional forces. Nevertheless it was in 2010 that Russian officialdom started overtly alluding to these potentialities with the new Russian Military Doctrine released in 2010 talking about - "the mass employment of weapons systems and weapons technology, based upon new physical principles and approaching in effectiveness that of nuclear weapons".
And now in 2012, we have everything being made candid with the current Russian defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov apparently stating in a meeting with Prime Minister (and President-Elect as well) Vladimir Putin last week that - "The development of weaponry based on new physics principles; direct-energy weapons, geophysical weapons, wave-energy weapons, genetic weapons, psychotronic weapons, etc., is part of the state arms procurement program for 2011-2020."
Clearly the 'Men Who Stare At Goats' kind of scenario is now no longer something in the deep black world. And I really wonder if Serdyukov's statement can be dismissed out of hand as mere propaganda. We may just be beginning to see the start of the publicization of a till now covert race to build new kinds of weapons. How successful these efforts ( i.e to build these kinds of weapons) will be or have been are of course a different set of questions altogether.
More about Saurav Jha
Saurav Jha studied economics (and debated politics) at Presidency College, Calcutta, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He writes and researches on global energy and security issues and is a regular contributor to publications such as World Politics Review, The Diplomat and Le Monde Diplomatique, and has written for Deccan Herald, The Telegraph and Hindustan Times. He is the Consulting Editor of Geopolitics magazine. His first book, The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power, was published in March 2010 to excellent reviews. He is presently working on The Heat and Dust Project, a quirky travelogue, based on an intense budget journey through India, co-authored with his wife Devapriya.
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