When we think of warfare, we think of soldiers in full military gear with handheld weapons lined up to fight the enemy. And while there is still too much blatant, in-your-face warfare going around, there is now a new kind of conflict playing out worldwide. It's called "Shadow wars", and it is quickly taking over conventional warfare.
Shadow wars are wars that officially "don't exist" and are a more discreet type of fighting, using counterintelligence, data hacking, drone surveillance and attacks and outsourced mercenaries. It is also gaining popularity because it provides opportunities for plausible deniability.
Many nations use these methods so they are not held accountable for any actual wars and the subsequent deaths and damages. It is a back door option to resolve political, economic and humanitarian conflicts.
Since World War 2, military power across all nations has grown stronger. Powerful weapons, planes, submarines, boats and more are almost common. The United States military spends more money than the other major world militaries combined. But the rise of technology, mainly digital technology, and its incorporation into conflict management and warfare is most alarming.
Drones, for example, are now a prevalent weapon used by many military forces, especially in the Middle East, in countries including Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan. Enemy forces from the United States use drone attacks, aiming at insurgent and terrorist groups such as the Taliban, Isis and Al-Qaeda. Sadly, innocent civilians are often hit and caught in the crossfire.
Data warfare is another aspect of shadow warfare. Despite the many advances in tech security, it is still relatively easy for computers, smartphones, and other personal gadgets to get hacked by the enemy. Clicking on the wrong link or even missing a call can be enough to install a virus onto your phone, giving hackers access to your phone's camera, microphone, and information.
These hackers have government backing, and on the flip side, digital mercenaries working underground also sell spy software to authoritarian regimes. Many tech companies have suffered outside virus attacks, shutting down all their computers and rendering them useless while taking the information hostage. When these data attacks have physical effects that can harm the population, it gets extremely dangerous. Governments are highly at risk since all their information is stored on computers.
The use of mercenaries is also on the rise, hired by private companies to do the dirty work for governments. Mercenaries allow them to avoid taking responsibility for any potential fallout, and it's a much cheaper alternative than deploying their official forces. However, privatizing warfare carries its caveats, especially increasing the demand for mercenaries and conflict.
It is no longer accurate to say that shadow warfare is the future since it is already here.
Directed by: Charlotte Krüger, Dirk Laabs