Glossary of terms provided at the end of the book.
Defense policy is a critical element to an Islamic state. As I stated earlier, without credible defense the enemies of Islam will find any and every excuse to declare us non-kosher and bomb us to “the Stone Age”. A credible defense requires us to carefully consider what the ingredients of Western military supremacy are. All too often, we see only the shiny tanks, ships and planes, thinking buying these will give us military credibility. However, this is far from the truth.
Western military superiority is built on research and development combined with a viable military-industrial complex. This requires sustained investment in education and research. It requires effective and efficient project management of complex weapons systems. It requires savvy management to decide what programs are dead-ends and what programs need to be ramped up. One of the keys to such development is to have a large number of well-trained scientists and engineers.
However, many in the West know and understand that building that coterie of scientists and engineers require the right kind of education, particularly K-12 (kindergarten to grade 12). This education has to have credible and extensive mathematics and science subjects. It has to create students that are not rote learners but innovative free thinkers who can think outside the box. The education cannot all be theoretical but must have as extensive as possible, use of hands-on-practice.
A viable military industrial complex also means that sustained investments are needed in not only weapons development but in critical industries such as steel and metallurgy, information technology, synthetic and composite materials.
Presently Turkey, Pakistan and Iran are three countries in the Ummah that have the strongest such base. Interestingly enough, where one is lacking the other is proficient, so there is a lot to gain from mutual cooperation. For instance, Turkish combat ship building capability has significant competitiveness and capability. An example of this is the Turkish Milgem Corvette program. While Iran’s weapons are generally not top grade compared to the global standard, they have the ability to manufacture a very diverse range of weapon systems indigenously. One example is the helicopter industry in Iran. Pakistan has a highly efficient and effective aircraft manufacturing industry as well as a key competitive capability in missiles and nuclear weapons. An example is of the Babur cruise missile that is nuclear capable and has a range of over 700 km.
The Future Ahead
However, we must look beyond and ahead rather than what is the present state of technology if we are not to forever lag behind. Malek Bennabi notes that if we seek to follow in the footsteps of Europe, we will always lag behind the West as we have to go through the same steps that the West has already long passed. He notes that we cannot make history by following beaten tracks; it is only possible to do so by opening new paths. Bennabi explains that making history will only be possible for us if we return to our genuine principles from Islam and derive from them efficient solutions for today.
In his seminal work, Alvin Toffler in his book The Third Wave suggests that the world is moving to a new era. He describes the First Wave as settled agricultural society, the Second Wave as industrial society. In his words:
"The Second Wave Society is industrial and based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation, mass entertainment, and weapons of mass destruction. You combine those things with standardization, centralization, concentration, and synchronization, and you wind up with a style of organization we call bureaucracy."
He considers a Third Wave to have started in the 1950s and that countries are in the process of transitioning to this new wave, which is based on information technology and can be construed as an Information Age.
If this is true and keeping in mind the drastic changes that took place with the industrial revolution, the world seems ripe for another major perhaps cataclysmic event. What this implies for warfare: just as war drastically changed from the agricultural to the industrial age, and those who were unable to progress to the new wave (including the Muslim world) were defeated, humiliated and consigned to subservience, a new Third Wave will again drastically change the social, political, economic and military structure of the world.
Those countries that are unable to adapt, to progress, to the new circumstances will suffer just as the Red Indians, Muslims, Indians, Chinese and much of the non-Western world suffered from the Second Wave. Let us consider the implication of this Third Wave to warfare, but before that, we define the importance of air defense within defense policy to better grasp the vital implication of air defense in the future.
Air Defense and the Future
In the contemporary world around us, Air defense is of vital importance and wars lost in the air translate to wars lost on the ground. This is an obvious statement and anyone can look at the turning points of WWII battles and virtually every major military operation that has taken place since. At the same time, Muslim armies have been most negligent in this key aspect of warfare and have lacked the technologies, the training and the sustained investments needed.
The most effective way to counter an enemy in the air is by air combat. Although a layered and integrated air defense with SAMs is potent, historically this has been, and this is likely to continue to be the case.
With the development of a first competent Muslim combat aircraft in the JF-17 the PAF has brought a new era of Muslim capability. The Iranians also have an F-5 based fighter which is still a capability even if it is not competitive against modern combat aircraft. The Turks are hoping to create a globally competitive fighter in the future, but this remains a long-term project. Yet, these capabilities only bring the Muslim world to the standard of what the West had achieved 20-30 years ago; an industrial age standard. If we forever mark our destination as the point the West is at, by the time we reach it, we will continue to be obsolete.
In a seminal book titled The Future of War: Power, Technology, and American World Dominance in the 21st Century, the authors George and Meredith Friedman argued that each category of strategic weapon systems have a life-cycle and noted that stealth manned aircraft, the pinnacle today of combat aircraft, represented a point of decline and senility for combat aircraft. The Friedmans argue that strategic weapons systems can be considered on the basis of a list of eight points. These eight points determine what stage a weapon system is in its lifecycle between strategically significant and “senile” or obsolete systems. They define a strategically significant weapon as “one that brings force to bear in such a way that it decisively erodes the war-making capability of the enemy,” while a senile weapon is defined as “the primary strategic function of the weapon has been obscured by the need to construct expensive defenses against threats to the weapons platform.” They conclusively show through the historical record that strategic weapons systems have this lifecycle. They conclude that stealth manned aircraft along with aircraft carriers have reached a point of senility. Augustine’s Law Number 16 also suggests that there must be a peak and then eventually a break in aircraft acquisition costs.
Norman Augustine is one of the most respected thinkers in the US defense industry. He came up with a list of tongue-in-cheek laws based on his life-long experience in the US defense industry in some of the top positions. In Law 16 he suggests that the cost of combat aircraft increase exponentially while the budget for them increases linearly. He expresses this in a humorous manner:
In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3½ days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day.
He also notes in Law Number 12 that “It costs a lot to build bad products.”
“It is very expensive to achieve high unreliability. It is not uncommon to increase the cost of an item by a factor of ten for each factor of ten degradation accomplished.” (#18)
The sum total of what he is suggesting is that the manned combat aircraft evolutionary path is not sustainable. This supports the thesis earlier by the Friedmans that stealth manned combat aircraft are reaching obsolescence and a new technology and military strategy paradigm is ripe to take advantage.
What that future will look like has been glimpsed and illustrated by a small number of highly influential authors; perhaps prime among them is Peter Singer in Wired for War. In this seminal work – I realize I have been using the term seminal all too frequently in this section, but the reason for this is that the information coming out in this new territory of knowledge is as critical to the field as Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations to economics. We are at the threshold of a revolution and the names you read now with amused curiosity will someday be written in gold in the pages of history, in fact they already are in those that are involved in this field. Continuing – in his seminal work, Singer shows that what we believe to be science fiction and a distant future is already here and in fact, some of this equipment is already manufactured and being used by the US military. Others are waiting to be operationalized. Yet others are hiding in secret black projects that are waiting to reveal themselves to the world. He describes this new world of breakaway military technology as built on information technology and particularly a world of automated robotics. Such robotics already in use by the US and Israeli militaries are revolutionizing warfare.
Coming back to air defense, the impending revolution in air combat is ripe to take advantage of this Third Wave. Drones are getting bigger, faster, and more capable in every way. They are taking on a vast array of roles and have / will take on the role of air defense and strike. Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs) are an emerging technology that has the potential to revolutionize air warfare. They can be drastically superior to manned counterparts and can impact warfare in the same way that the invention of guns affected war centuries ago. What is being suggested by experts in this field, and I myself have some expertise in this field, is that UCAVs and other Information Age weapons that are emerging in a new wave sweeping human history can make or break the destiny of nations.
Among those leading the curve of this new technology, particularly applied to the military are the United States and Israel. By some accounts Israel has a lead in some areas even over the United States. This is an alarm bell for the Muslims to wake up, if we continue to sleep as we have slept, this new wave will overwhelm us and Israel can and will dominate if not outright takeover the Middle East.
At the time of writing, it is the 3rd of May, 2012. I believe (and Allah knows best) that in a coming war against Iran very soon, my dear reader will see the first of this new wave of technology in play and how drastically these weapons will be able to alter the conventional military balance. It saddens me immensely to know what will happen beforehand but being unable to warn or take adequate actions to help my brothers and sisters who will soon face a great and terrible fitna. I hope my dear reader takes warning, insh’Allah.
Because Allah will never change the Grace which He hath bestowed on a people until they change what is in their (own) souls: and verily Allah is He Who heareth and knoweth (all things). (8:53)
A New Muslim Cavalry
As I noted earlier, we must be innovators and leaders in the field of military science rather than followers. I earlier looked at air warfare, following is the development of some ideas on strategy and tactics for ground combat. The ideas expressed below are qualified by necessitating an effective air defense first and foremost without which they will be most ineffective. Thus, I would suggest we look at building UCAVs and other modern air defense concepts first.
Light cavalry is a defunct concept in modern Western military doctrine. However, Muslim history indicates it was a central part of our doctrine. This author equates light cavalry, not with lightly armored vehicles, as the West is wont to do, but rather with a Close Air Support (CAS) component. CAS is in simple terms aircraft that provide fire support to troops on the ground.
To simplify to the casual reader, modern military doctrine has a concept of combined arms – combining various kinds of weaponry for maximum effectiveness. If we took a simple ancient army we would have:
1. Foot soldiers;
2. Heavy armored knights / war elephants / Roman cataphracts;
3. Archers; and
4. Light cavalry.
Foot soldiers are today your infantryman, heavy armor your tanks and archers your artillery. Today the predominant position is that light cavalry is defunct or is sometimes equated to light armored vehicles. In simple terms, I am disputing this point and saying that Close Air Support (CAS) should be considered light cavalry.
This implies logically that CAS should be organic to the combined arms available to the commander. This in turn means that the air force should hand over this function back to the army. This is in simple terms what this author has been shouting for the last few years. This may seem trivial to the casual reader but it has very important implications in actual operational impact.
Let me note a few of these problems in a cursory and simple manner for the ordinary reader. Typically in a war where both sides are more even, the air force will focus on winning the air war first and foremost because this is of critical importance to them. They will thus tend to neglect CAS for the army. However, the army is in dire need of CAS and does not understand the air force. Most modern armed forces have this rift between the two arms. The fundamental problem is an organizational theory case study. The services are separated on the basis of equipment being operated. Thus, combat aircraft will be operated by the Air Force and tanks and APCs by the Army. A better way to organize the services is on the basis of activity. Activity-based division would allow superior coordination in achieving the objectives of that activity.
Thus destroying enemy tanks, artillery, troops, and more on the battlefield is a task that is conducted by CAS aircraft, tanks, artillery, etc. This is a different activity than fighting enemy fighter aircraft for defending the national air space or striking strategic targets deep inside enemy territory. Since before, combat aircraft were multirole and each aircraft could do a wide range of tasks, this division was not clear. However, today, combat aircraft have evolved in a way that it does not make sense to use highly sophisticated, multi-million dollar aircraft to drop bombs on the battlefield. CAS is far more suited to a cheap, rugged aircraft operated by the Army.
Close integration of this component is vital as CAS aircraft operate very close to own troops, and could easily bomb them otherwise. Another important factor regarding close integration is that CAS aircraft can also play an important role for as a pair of eyes over the battlefield area for the ground commander. If the CAS pilot lives and works with the army officers, he or she will have a better understanding of what to look out for, how the game is being played and what in those given circumstances his or her role should be.
The conflict of interest created by different primary objectives is another factor. The air force is tasked with the safeguard of the skies. The army is tasked with the safeguard of the earthen territory. The air force as such is wont to utilize all its assets for its primary objective while neglecting CAS which is a secondary objective. Yet in modern warfare CAS is critical to army operations.
In short, without further boring my non-military-interest reader, we need to stop making the mistakes of the West by blindly following their operational doctrines. We can do better and combined arms operations can be rethought and better operationalized. My concept of a combined arms operation will have CAS aircraft, unmanned drones for reconnaissance, electronic warfare, in addition to the traditionally accepted elements of combined arms operations. They should all be seamlessly integrated within a single command such as a division or even an independent brigade, working in harmony and unity, sharing a single logistics base and operational deployment for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Light cavalry was the forte of Muslims. Cavalry, light or otherwise is even indicated in the Quran perhaps indicating its importance, and Allah knows best:
By the (Steeds) that run, with panting (breath),
And strike sparks of fire,
And push home the charge in the morning,
And raise the dust in clouds the while,
And penetrate forthwith into the midst (of the foe) en masse―
Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies and others besides whom ye may not know but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly. (8:60)
An air assault was in fact utilized by Allah subhanahut’ala when Abraha attacked Makkah. The Quran reminds us of it thus:
Seest thou not how thy Lord dealt with the Companions of the Elephant? (1) Did He not make their treacherous plan go astray? (2) And He sent against them flights of Birds, (3) Striking them with stones of baked clay. (4) Then did He make them like an empty field of stalks and straw, (of which the corn) has been eaten up. (105:1-5)
And Khalid bin Waleed, the Sword of Allah, used light cavalry tactics as his principle weapon against all the enemies of Islam. We at that point faced two massive superpowers that no sane man would imagine we could defeat, that too nearly simultaneously. Yet it was the Sword of Allah, his rapid movements through the desert and his light cavalry tactics that brought unbelievable victory after unbelievable victory. Here is how Lieutenant-General A.I. Akram of the Pakistan Army so beautifully paints Khalid in his book The Sword of Allah:
“He sees a long, dark line of horsemen emerge from behind a rise in the ground and charge galloping at a body of Roman troops. The cloaks of the warriors fly behind them and the hooves of their horses pound the earth pitilessly. Some carry lances; others brandish swords; and the Romans standing in the path of the charge tremble at the sight of the oncoming terror, for they are standing in the way of the Mobile Guard, whom none may resist and survive to tell the tale. The line of charging horsemen is not straight, for it is impossible to keep it straight at such a mad, reckless pace. Every man strives to get ahead of his comrades and be the first to clash with the infidel; strives to get ahead of all but the Leader, for no one may, or possibly could, overtake the Leader.
“The Leader gallops ahead of the Muslims. A large, broad-shouldered, powerfully-built man, he is mounted on a magnificent Arab stallion and rides it as if he were part of the horse. The loose end of his turban and his cloak flutter behind him and his large, full beard is pressed against his chest by the wind. His fierce eyes shine with excitement-with the promise of battle and blood and glory- the glory of victory or martyrdom. His coat of mail and the iron tip of his long lance glint in the clear sunlight, and the earth trembles under the thundering hooves of his fiery charger.”
I am the noble warrior;
I am the Sword of Allah
Khalid bin Al Waleed!
The purpose of putting up these verses from the Quran and the tactics of Khalid bin Waleed is not only to find verses to support my thesis about the importance of light cavalry but to also make you realize what you are missing. The Quran has all the principles and ideas needed for the answers to our problems yet we treat it so poorly. Wake up, what is wrong with you? We have had everything we ever needed to have conducted blitzkrieg long before Guderian and Rommel built those tactics, right here in the Quran and in the example of the Sahaba. There is much, much more, waiting for you to stop mumbling and start heeding. Yet, you refuse to heed. I myself have managed to find, and Allah knows best, a huge cache of hints on military strategy in the Quran. The Quran is guidance for all times. Again, the Quran is guidance for all times. Do you refuse to believe it? It is as if I am speaking to a wall.
Our Improvisation is Our Strength
The JF-17 has been a remarkable fighter plane that is perhaps the first competent combat aircraft designed (at least partially) and built in the Muslim world. It is a symbol of success not only as a weapon system but as a remarkably effective development paradigm. A truly remarkable feature of the FC-1 / JF-17 has been the willingness of its development team to improvise. Significant changes have been made mid-program and even at the very end of the program timetable.
This is in contrast to Western design houses where original frameworks are strictly maintained – notice the F-22 and the Eurofighter, where certain design parameters were doggedly followed when they could have clearly done better by changing course midway.
The Western style of planning is culturally different from the eastern style – objectives are fixed at the beginning while in the East, we are willing to move the objective around a bit. Obviously, neither is “better” than the other but each has its benefits and costs. However, I think the JF-17 benefited from this immeasurably.
The West is not flawless and they are not gods. There is no god but Allah and we have to stop worshipping them but worship Him. They have many inefficiencies and weaknesses that there is no need to blindly follow, in fact our advantage would lie in exploiting exactly those weaknesses.
Return to Book Home
Return to Book Home