In the dark arena of nuclear catastrophe, after the advent of nuclear related technologies emerged, the dynamics of Global security environment transformed into a Paradox of Power among the great powers. A series of power struggle became a notion between strategic competitors in the 20th century. US and Soviet Union neglected the idea of war after World War 2, when seeking the potential power of deterrence of Nuclear weapons. Since then, the world restrict itself from indulging in any nuclear war rather states became more inclined towards arms control and nonproliferation negotiations in order to avoid, conventional wars.
21st century, sets a hallmark for domination of technology in global strategic security environment. The impacts of major wars on the states provided a lesson to protect not only state itself along its nation from a nuclear winter. Advancements in the technology opens a gateway to a more precise and intelligent wars without much resources and escalation rather limited force to achieve desirable military outcomes. With such a vast spectrum of emerging technologies today, will they replace the nuclear deterrence? Or do these small yield precision technologies have potential to overtake the nuclear weapons? Or what can be the limit of its threshold for replacement?
Theories always provide a model or framework for analysis of any issue. While the idea of the paper revolves around the replacement of nuclear weapons by precision technologies. Numerous frameworks shall be applied depending upon the nature and dimension of the research query. As nuclear deterrence is a multidimensional concept that constitutes various approaches. With concern to the topic, “Precision technologies: replacement to conventional weapons” meet one of the four paradox of nuclear strategy, that is ‘Stability/ Instability Paradox.
“Stability/ Instability Paradox states that by preventing total war or all out wars, the destructiveness of nuclear weapons seems to open the door to limited conflicts.” “The inverse relationship between the probability of nuclear and conventional military conflict is known as the stability-instability paradox.” Furthermore, the paper also analyzes some of principles of Sun Tzu, where paper reflects on the idea of policies of war making and limited resource allocation keeping in view the future expediencies. Where Sun Tzu states that, “Generally in war the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this, for to win a hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”He further notes, “The magnitude of outcomes of its use makes industrial war, the focusing of state’s total power to the application of force against an adversary, a high-risk enterprise”.
Prospects of Precision Technologies:
Tracing back when national security of a state was ensured by the possession of nuclear weapons or nuclear force, the debate over various technologies was a source of neglect by that time. Horizons of nuclear force discriminated the idea of precision technology by the fact of its deterrence and magnitude of its collateral damage. During mid 1980s the idea of such low yield technology came to limelight and speculations emerged on its usage and delivery means. Precision technologies eliminated the idea of collateral damage by use of sufficient force to achieve military targets. With accuracy and precision as a foundational characteristic, they became a major tool in conflicts.
Some of the precision technologies are as following:
Radar: one of the best detection tool used by force in order to target enemy force and co ordinate with the signals in mostly operatable in all mediums such as dark or fog or any obstruction. Radar provides accuracy for a weapon to be delivered at any target.
Space system: it provides the exact location of thee target by several surveillance and reconnaissance satellites or use of Global Positioning System (GPS). Thus, reduces the risk of probability.
Unmanned air vehicle: one of the most intelligent and precise tool which has the capability to carry weapons and aids in surveillance objectives too. The risk of putting a life of human on danger on the vehicle has been replaced by UAV’s.
Advent of Cruise and Ballistic missiles: primary function of missile is to target the enemy with exact precision, accuracy keeping in mind the missile range, trajectory, warhead, speed and payload that it carries.
Cyber-attacks: network centric weapon launched by using Internet Protocols of an identified target by the hacker. In such a process the risk of being captured by the enemy force is nil. Cyber espionage, hacking, cyberterrorism all are the tools for physical disruption.
Sun Tzu principle of subduing an enemy without fighting can be related to such skills in order to win a war over an enemy. Where fights are fought conventionally, it’s the technology who dictates how to win thousands battles without fighting.
It is far obvious how precision technologies can be employed by the forces to achieve objectives but with immense technological factor there are various assumptions too based on their delivery means, their potential capabilities, reliability, readiness and vulnerability. Precision technologies are said to be vulnerable if slightly miscalculation or mishandling of the weapon is done wile operating it. Slightly miscalculation can prove to have an entirely different outcome and risk of mission shall reveal. Secondly, striking the targeted location requires precision in intelligence, location, and timebound attack. Any delay or slightly carelessness will produce destructive results than nuclear arms.
Securing boundaries without conventional force can be challenging yet possible by having potential use of precision technology. Such as cyber-attacks, one of the major tool which is more destructive in nature than any nuclear weapon. The potential espionage and hacking for a state make it possible. Having a trained force for cyber-attack to enemy command and control system penetration shall give desirable political, military objectives.
More Intelligence/ less Magnitude: Counter value targets
Considering one of the major drawbacks regarding the magnitude of destructiveness by precision technology is that its limited focused area which it can turn down. Historically, at the time when nuclear weapons were used on Japan, the entire nation was slaughtered by a single bomb. Now considering the range, magnitude and level of destruction that was being made by a single firebomb cannot be achieved by Precision technologies. There is no denial regarding their accuracy, intelligence and precision but when it come to target counter value location, precision technology cannot replace nuclear weapon. Thus, Nuclear weapon ensures collateral damage. But on the other hand, targeting counter value targets are morally and legally restricted. So, precision technology cannot fully but partially over come this restraint.
The stability/instability paradox comes in existence while debating over an argument of countervalue and counter force targets. While theorists are of the view that nuclear weapons in any region exists in parity to the strategic security environment of that particular region keeping in view the strategic relations of nuclear weapon states and their neighbors. The prospects of threat perception are seen if it fulfilled by possession of nuclear arsenals or Precision Technology. If we look at South Asian region two nuclear states, who are in constant struggle in acquiring more and more nuclear arsenals to enhance their threshold, do have hands on precision technologies but they rely more on nuclear threshold rather than high precision weapons for deterrence purposes.
Secondly, the fancy technology can only be possessed by core states. Core states have the potential to design, operate and function such high technology prone devices because of availability of resources both skill and trained workers along with knowledge. And over such technology there is always a monopoly over the transfer of knowledge. So, such periphery states grip on nuclear deterrence for a security dilemma.
Power of technology today, paves alternatives for the core states to have an upper hand in the International Politics.
 Bhumitra Chakma, The Politics of Nuclear Weapon in South Asia (Burlington: Asghate Publishing Company, 2011).
 S. Paul Kapur, “Stability Instability Paradox”, in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Period (Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publication, Inc.,2017),2.
 Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Samuel B. Griffith translation (Oxford University Press, 1963).
 Rupert Smith, The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World, (New York: Random House/Vintage Books, 2012).