30 October 2017

Future Operating Environment 2035

Predicting the future is always a difficult proposition. One can go drastically wrong. However, you have to anticipate the future. Based on future operating environments the strategy, force structure, weapon and equipment, profile, doctrine, training and human resources management are made. This is a dynamic process. Depending on changes in the security environment mid course corrections can always be made.

This is why advanced countries of the world publish their envisaged future operating environment.

Let’s have a look at “Strategic Trends Programme Future Operating Environment 2035” as given out by the Govt of UK. The gist is given succeeding paragraphs. 

Strategic Context

Increased globalisation may mean that states and individuals have significantly less time to plan for, and respond to, global and regional events that emerge rapidly. Faster and more agile military responses may be called for, posing a challenge for policy- and decision-makers.

The US is likely to remain the world’s leading military power in 2035, although its military advantage is likely to be challenged increasingly by China.

By 2035 the majority of the world’s population is expected to live in cities, with many located on or near the coast. These areas will often be prone to natural disasters. Failed or failing cities could become sources of major security issues: such cities may lack resilience due to poor infrastructure, lack of resources and ineffective or absent institutions and emergency services.

The effects of climate change are likely to drive an increased need for humanitarian assistance to address greater suffering, suggesting that the military will more frequently be used to provide assistance – albeit in a supporting role – alongside capable non-governmental organisations.

The need to protect lines of communication, as well as to guarantee access to resources, may increase competition and act as a catalyst for intra- and inter-state conflict. This will be important to the UK, which will remain heavily reliant on imported energy, food and industrial resources.

There will be an increasing range of empowered actors in 2035, although the state will continue to play a dominant role in international affairs.

Growing proliferation will allow a wider range of actors to access more sophisticated weapons, while the previous technological advantage enjoyed by Western militaries will continue to be reduced.

The UK’s relative influence could decline out to 2035, as it competes within a larger peer group.

UK Defence is likely to have a broader role in supporting the Government’s wider interests and contributing to the nation’s prosperity and stability by applying both hard and soft power.

Events abroad are likely to have a more direct impact at home, and military operations overseas may be influenced increasingly by UK mainland security needs.

Critical UK infrastructure may become increasingly vulnerable to remote attack, particularly from cyberspace.

Characteristics of the future operating environment


In 2035 there is likely to be growing competition between states for access to, and influence over, ever-scarcer resources.

Traditional state-on-state conflict cannot be ruled out over the next 20 years, but state-sponsored terror attacks, use of proxies and cyber attacks are more likely.

Three-way engagement between militaries, non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations will become increasingly important out to 2035. For urban operations, engagement with city authorities will be particularly relevant.

Extremist non-state actors will be more able to exploit a wider array of military capabilities, using innovative tactics that exploit our inherent vulnerabilities, including any institutional inertia. They are likely to develop ever-higher levels of lethality to counter our protection systems and may even have access to weapons of mass effect.


For the UK, NATO will remain the defence alliance of choice – providing the continued commitment to Article 5 but also the means of interoperability with a wide range of nations that could form coalitions of the willing.

In 2035, the UN is likely to work through regional organisations to achieve its aims, including a greater role in upstream conflict prevention. The need for large-scale UN operations – perhaps in Africa – and the UK’s involvement in (and possible leadership of) them should not be discounted.

Culture and identity

The growth and proliferation of social media is likely to create new forms of identity-based ‘turbulence’ or volatility, which gain strength by their associations. This is likely to intensify and complicate battlespaces by broadening audiences and energising ‘causes’ for which people fight, making pragmatic compromise harder to accept.

Social media’s readily-available open-source intelligence-gathering advantages are likely to be used for control, manipulation and targeting.

Faith-based ideologies will continue to shape many conflicts around the world in 2035.

Tensions arising from differences of nationality and culture and a rise in ‘identity politics’ will carry a high risk of sectarian or communal violence.

Analysis and predictive modelling of social behaviour will increasingly support operations.


The UK and other Western militaries, probably with the exception of the US, will almost certainly have been overtaken in some technologies by 2035, and may need to become accustomed to being overmatched by derived military capabilities.

By 2035, a diverse range of actors will be able to access capabilities once restricted to just a few states. Illicit and unregulated technology transfer will exacerbate the threat to the UK.

Technological change will accelerate, serving to highlight inadequacies in less adaptable procurement processes within Defence.

By 2035, proliferation will enable a wider range of our potential adversaries to deploy weapons to deny our access to, and freedom of movement within, operational areas. The aim of our adversaries is likely to be to deter Western powers by raising the potential cost of action.

Automated systems, including those that are armed, will proliferate over the next 20 years. Advances in technology will almost certainly enable swarm attacks, allowing numerous devices to act in concert. This may serve to counter the advantage of high-end systems.

Additive manufacturing may make our logistics chain lighter. This will be key to operating in non-permissive environments, especially when the support chain is long, expensive or threatened. It may also allow individuals, non-state actors and developing states the capability to produce very large numbers of cheap, precision weapons.

By 2035, physical and cognitive performance will be artificially enhanced via biomechanical systems such as exo-skeletons or prosthetics, wearable devices and sensors, and memory-enhancing drugs.

Synthetic biological components may lead to new pathogens being deliberately or accidently created and released, potentially causing or exacerbating pandemics. By 2035, it may even be possible to create genetic weapons.

Defence will need to understand the impact on privacy, assurance, jurisdiction and security for data stored on any foreign based servers. Such data servers will become an important part of critical national infrastructure, but may not have the type of protection afforded by UK sovereignty.

By 2035, persistent real-time, multi-sensor surveillance capabilities will be ubiquitous, cheap and passive, offering considerable advantage to a range of actors. This will have significant implications for operational security.


Cyberspace will be ubiquitous by 2035, pervading every aspect of the physical environments to a far higher degree than today.

Dominance of global cyberspace will be impossible: states will struggle to control cyberspace, because its infrastructure is so widely dispersed.

Cyber activity may offer a credible way to provide deterrent effect that complies with the principle of distinction, perhaps by threatening a state’s critical infrastructure, rendering that state open to coercion.

Electromagnetic environment

Advanced electronic warfare capabilities will be ubiquitous and proliferate to less capable adversaries, creating a broad range of electronic warfare threats.

Countermeasures and mitigation to electronic warfare attack will be important. Reinvigorating and exploiting attack capabilities could ensure Defence possesses operational advantage.

Physical environment

Maintaining UK access to the global commons will be essential for ensuring global reach, national prosperity and to deliver strategic effect.

Increasing reliance on space-based technologies will increase our electromagnetic spectrum vulnerability, partly because enabling capabilities are often hosted by non-UK space service providers. Every part of the UK’s critical national infrastructure relies to some extent on space capabilities, and this dependency will increase greatly out to 2035.

Technological advances, by 2035, will allow flight at ever-higher altitudes, blurring further the distinction between air and space. These technologies may stretch our ability to police international airspace and defend our sovereign territory from the air.

For our Armed Forces, the urban environment will be one of the most challenging areas in which to operate. Cities will be complex and multi-dimensional. Armed forces operating in future cities will have to consider aspects of the environment as diverse as subterranean spaces and cyberspace. The scale of this challenge will be potentially overwhelming andevery urban centre will be unique, requiring a bespoke understanding.

The effects of climate change will be most keenly felt in densely populated coastal cities, leading to instability and suffering.

Where cities are located on the littoral, the inherent complexities of the urban operating environment will be amplified.

Future legal aspects

The precise understanding and applicability of the Law of Armed Conflict may present challenges in keeping pace with technological developments, such as wider use of more sophisticated automated systems.

Implications for Defence

The proliferation of military technology amongst potential adversaries means that our key systems may be vulnerable to technical exploitation or capability overmatch.

Understanding will be fundamental in underpinning conventional and nuclear deterrence as well as coercion.

The UK mainland will face a broad range of natural and man-made threats. It will be increasingly difficult to distinguish between threats from state and non-state actors.

In the unlikely event that an existential threat to the UK emerges, mechanisms will need to be in place to provide warning and rapidly reconstitute sufficient forces to respond.

Achieving a nuanced understanding of the operating environment will be more challenging – and more important – out to 2035.

Future systems must be able to operate and survive, at range, against more sophisticated anti-access and area denial capabilities.

Interoperability and adaptability will be crucial as bespoke alliances and partnerships become more important, both between nations and with non-state actors.

Very long-term, inflexible procurement processes will no longer be sustainable.

Increasingly, military strength will be expressed in terms of human capability across the Whole Force, and establishing the right mix of regulars, reserves, civilians and contractors will be critical.

The confluence of two seas

by C. Raja Mohan 
Source Link

Three developments in the last few days have set the stage for some real competition for promoting connectivity in Asia and opened up fresh opportunities for India to shape the outcomes. Only a few months ago, Delhi seemed alone in opposing China’s trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that has been viewed with awe around the world and enthusiastically embraced by most of its neighbours in the region. Now Delhi may be in a position to work with its partners — especially Japan and the US — to offer a credible alternative to the BRI.

Right to privacy is deeply linked to national security

In his 266-page order as part of the 9-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, Justice Dr D Y Chandrachud records how this case came before the Bench.

“A Bench of three judges of this court, while considering the constitutional challenge to the Aadhaar card scheme of the Union government, noted in its order dated 11 August 2015 that the norms for and compilation of demographic biometric data by government was questioned on the ground that it violates the right to privacy.

China’s $62 Billion Bet on Pakistan

By Arif Rafiq

When Maqbool Afridi, now a retired colonel, was stationed with the Pakistani army in Gwadar in the 1990s, he would sit along the coast and stare into the expanse of the Arabian Sea, imagining what the natural deep-sea port could become. He was inspired not only to write romantic Urdu poetry but also to purchase some land in what was then, and largely remains, a fishing village. His family ridiculed him for it, telling him that he was wasting his savings.



Over the years, I’ve had the occasion to meet various officials from the Indian Embassy in Washington. They have all at one point or another asked the same questions: “How do the Pakistanis keep beguiling you Americans? How does this rogue state continue to receive billions of dollars of aid and military assistance while supporting terrorism and being an irresponsible nuclear weapons state?” The short answer is that the Pakistanis can extract such resources from the Americans precisely because it is a nuclear-armed menace perpetrating terrorism through its varied proxies. 

China stretches its long arm to Djibouti

Nizar Manek

The People’s Liberation Army’s overseas garrison conducted its first live-fire drills from China’s base inDjibouti last month. The base on the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, where the Red Sea meets the Indian Ocean, was inaugurated in July, and is embedded in Djibouti’s new Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port. At the port’s opening ceremony two months earlier, two vessels, one owned by Ethiopian Logistics & Shipping Enterprise (ESLSE) and the other by China’s state-owned COSCO Shipping Lines, berthed at the port, and fêted Djibouti’s President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh with a long whistle.

Is China the Future of Bitcoin, or Its Past?

Huang, a 25-year-old manager of a bitcoin mine, inspects a malfunctioning mining machine during his night shift, in Ngawa (Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, September 26, 2016.

Is China the Future of Bitcoin, or Its Past?

Is Xi Jinping's Star Burning Too Bright?

By David Ignatius

Xi dominated the stage, literally and figuratively, at the party's 19th Congress, which ended this week in Beijing. His consolidation of power has nearly erased the collective leadership style of his recent predecessors and vaulted him into a Chinese pantheon occupied only by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. "Xi Jinping Thought" is now celebrated as the guide to a "new era" for China.

How Xi plans China's world domination

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, crucial for Xi Jinping achieving his agenda for 'national rejuvenation', opened on October 18, 2017, amidst stringent security in Beijing and other major Chinese cities including the autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. Xi, who holds 14 formal positions -- more than any other Chinese Communist leader till now -- has positioned himself to emerge stronger from the Congress.

Economist: Western firms are coining it along China’s One Belt, One Road

“MUTUAL benefit, joint responsibility and shared destiny,” sings a choir of enthusiastic schoolgirls in a music video called “The Belt and Road, Sing Along” from Xinhua, a news service run by the Chinese government, that mixes shots of cranes and shipping containers with people enjoying foreign landmarks. Western firms are scarcely less optimistic. Launched by China in 2013, the One Belt, One Road policy, known as OBOR, has two parts. There is a land-based “belt” from China to Europe, evoking old Silk Road trade paths, then a “road” referring to ancient maritime routes.

Terrorism and Just War

By Russell Worth Parker

The years since 2001 leave the United States in a strategic fog. What began as an effort to destroy Al Qaeda in Afghanistan spread to South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Levant in a war that seems long on how and short on why. Civil war in Syria and continued unrest in Iraq made the fertile crescent ready ground for the rise of the Islamic State. Subsequent population displacement in extant warzones and radicalization of native populations gave rise to attacks in Europe. Even the United States, long reliant on geography as a bulwark, has seen militant Islamic violence, revealing the shallow thought behind the bumper sticker notion that we have to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here, and reinforcing the impetus for an ever widening, vaguely defined war reliant on aging authorizations disconnected from classic Just War Theory.

Welcome Home, ISIS Fighters, All Is Forgiven

European security services are disturbingly unconcerned with the threat posed by thousands of returning Islamist fighters. Ah, the folly of youth. Some drive too fast in their parents cars. Some fall in love with the wrong person. And some leave their hometown to fly the black flag of ISIS in Syria, perhaps beheading a few apostates or raping and enslaving some Yazidis. Young people are so idealistic and headstrong, aren’t they? So conclude British authorities, as more ISIS fighters return to the U.K. after the caliphate was routed in Raqqa. 

The Moderate Face of Al Qaeda

By Colin P. Clarke

And although the rebranding was regarded as a bald-faced feint by many counterterrorism scholars, it just might have worked to recast al Qaeda’s image within Syria. Al Qaeda in Syria’s carefully calculated decision to distance itself from its parent organization was an effort to portray itself as a legitimate, capable, and independent force in the ongoing Syrian civil war. Another objective was to prove that the militants were dedicated to helping Syrians prevail in their struggle. Finally, it would give al Qaeda central a modicum of plausible deniability as it paves the way for its erstwhile allies to gain eligibility for military aid from a collection of external nations.

STAYING POWER: The Missing Element of National Military Power

By William Adler

Incremental improvements in doctrine, global basing, and force structure are all steps in the right direction, but they are fundamentally insufficient to allow the United States to prevail in a large-scale conventional war. Political and military leaders seek solutions in sterile funding debates, vociferous force size comparisons and acquisition deliberations, but then fail to address one of the elements critical to success in warfare – endurance. The ability to regenerate expended war-fighting capability is essential to maintain military staying power in a protracted war. The United States must build this kind of endurance into future force design and emphasize those military means that can be regenerated quickly and affordably to preserve military options.

Europe’s Border Problem

By George Friedman

For centuries Europe has fought wars over borders. During the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, Europe’s borders shifted wildly, as empires fragmented, new nations arose and wars were waged. After 1945 and the beginning of the Cold War, a new principle emerged on the Continent. The borders that existed at the end of World War II were deemed sacrosanct, not to be changed. The confrontation of the United States and the Soviet Union in Europe was enormously dangerous. It was understood that border disputes had been one of the origins of the two world wars and that even raising the legitimacy of post-war borders risked igniting passions that led to violence.

U.S. Searches for Cyber Doctrine With Russians “Ten Years Ahead”


In the nearly seven years since the U.S. Department of Defense declared cyberspace a “domain” of warfare – alongside land, air, sea, and space – the Pentagon has developed an overarching Cyber Strategy to guide their efforts in the new domain and raised a Cyber Command that has grown from 700 military and civilian employees to an expected 6,200 personnel by October 2018.

Looming Digital Black Swan? New, Rapidly Growing Internet-Of-Things (IoT) Botnet — Threatens To Take Down Entire Internet; 10,000 Devices Per Day Being Infected’ +2 Million Devices Already Infected

Cyber security researchers are growing increasingly concerned that a new Internet-Of-Things (IoT) botnet could pose a threat to take down the entire Internet. Wang Wei reported Friday, October 20, 2017, on the website the HackerNews.com, that just a year after/2016 the Mirai malware burst onto the scene, causing widespread Internet outages by launching massive Distributed-Denial-Of-Service (DDoS) attacks — a new IoT botnet has researchers worried about a potential digital Black Swan-type event. 

How NATO Is Preparing to Fight Tomorrow’s Information Wars

MONS, Belgium — NATO officials are boosting funding and forging new partnerships to strengthen their members’ network defenses. But some friends of NATO say bureaucratic obstacles and policy disputes are hindering the effort. All of that is occurring against a backdrop of daily low-level information attacks — and occasionally much more serious ones — from an increasingly aggressive Russia.

Quantum, darknet could solve energy sector’s cybersecurity problems

By: Jessie Bur

Protecting the U.S. energy grid from cyberattack requires the migration to cutting-edge technological tools such as dark fiber and quantum computing, according to experts who spoke at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing on Thursday. According to Richard Raines, director of the Electrical and Electronics Systems Research Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, darknet systems rely on unused fiber optic cables to keep the communications of a particular electronic system off the public internet.

Zuckerberg’s Preposterous Defense of Facebook

Zeynep Tufekci

Responding to President Trump’s tweet this week that “Facebook was always anti-Trump,” Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, defended the company by noting that Mr. Trump’s opponents also criticize it — as having aided Mr. Trump. If everyone is upset with you, Mr. Zuckerberg suggested, you must be doing something right.

After The Siege Of Marawi, Another Fight Plays Out

by Ben West

The military operation in Marawi City is officially over. After six months of urban combat that killed hundreds of Philippine troops and hundreds more militants - including Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and at least one of the brothers behind the namesake Maute group - President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi "liberated." A few days later on Oct. 23, the Philippine defense minister announced that security forces had cleared the last militants from the city. The siege of Marawi City was arguably the most ambitious and successful exploit to date for jihadists in the southern Philippines, and its end represents an important benchmark in the country's centurieslong struggle against insurgency. Though Philippine security forces have won the battle in Marawi, their war on militancy is far from finished.