NEUROSCIENCE: Brain Is The Battlefield Of The Future
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces
The rapid progress in neurosciences has increased and renewed interest within military and national security set ups to acquire the ability to degrade an opponents mind. Broad and rapid developments in neuroscience and its technologies have ensured growing interest in and use of these tools and methods to exert influence and power on the global stage thus leading to weaponisation of Neuro Science.
The militaries all over the world are studying neuro science so as to employ it to augment a soldiers and intelligence operators’ performance. Brain research and the use of its information and products in medicine can affect soft power by gaining an advantage, if not complete control, in world economic markets.
In addition, neuro active drugs, microbes, toxins and devices can be employed as weapons directly to affect cognitive and physical abilities of both friendly forces for optimization of performance and against adversaries for denigration effects.
Existing and emerging neuro technological devices are now being given fresh considerations with an increasing focus on brain scanning tools, directed energy, trans-cranial magnetic and electrical stimulation, and deep brain stimulation – all of which can be used in military and intelligence training, and operations.
Militaries and Intelligence Wings in US, Russia, China and many other countries are having neuro science projects that are studying ways and means which can be employed to augment performance of own soldiers, and alter adversaries’ capabilities with regards to key cognitive and physical tasks.
Most governments are trying to ensure seamless interaction between their academic/research institutions with their industry. They wish to attract best scientists and engineers to enhance the scope and speed of scientific research.
Overall aim is to establish conditions through which neuro sciences can be exploited to gain influence in economic, political, and military spheres.
Though to exercise neuro science as offensive weapons in military operations, countries will have to first study the existing constraints posed by the current Biological Toxins and Weapons Convention (BWC) and Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Uses of such agents can also be defined as overt acts of warfare, and as such could elicit retaliation that may be regarded as justifiable under international codes of war.
For example, gene editing can enable modification and/or creation of microbes and substances that are not currently categorized as pathogenic by international conventions. However, the use of such agents can pose risk to public health, safety, and security, and exert influence in multiple domains and dimensions.
Additionally, by enhancing the viability of information gained by neuroimaging, biomarkers, and behavioural and narrative assessments, can increase the accuracy with which neuroScience can be employed to affect the thoughts, emotions, actions, and/or health and security of particular individuals or groups.
These approaches need not be used as instruments of mass destruction, per se, but rather as means of mass disruption, which can incur ripple effects in and across a range of scales (from the sub-cellular to the socio-political).
The disruptive capabilities render them particularly valuable for engagements, which do not meet the defined threshold for acts of war. In this way, use of brain sciences and technologies can establish plus-sum advantages for the executor and zero-sum disadvantages for the recipient.
If the recipient responds with force against just disruptive use then such action may be viewed as overly aggressive, non-proportional, and as justification for secondary retaliation.
Conversely, if a recipient fails to counter an existing non-kinetic threat, the disruptive influence and it’s possible strategically destructive effect become increasingly manifest.