Director-General of National Intelligence Andrew Shearer shared his insights into the complexities of informal warfare during a panel discussion at the 2024 Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi. 

Mr Shearer joined a panel of distinguished experts, including Kajsa Ollongren, Minister of Defence for the Netherlands, General Anil Chauhan, Chief of Defence Staff for India, Sujan Chinoy, Director General of the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in India and Jenna Ben-Yehuda, Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council in the United States. Lisa Singh, CEO of the Australia India Institute moderated the panel, titled ‘The New Wars: Policies, Practices, and Preparation.’

In his opening remarks, DGNI Shearer noted the phenomenon of informal warfare or grey zone conflict is “as old as warfare itself." He underscored that the pursuit of political and geo-economic objectives, including territorial claims and military advantage, has been a consistent theme throughout history.

Highlighting the historical connection between grey zone tactics and heightened tension, Mr Shearer said, "Informal warfare or grey zone tactics are often a feature of periods of heightened tension." He emphasised the profound responsibility of the intelligence community in identifying risks before conflicts escalate into open hostilities, particularly during a period where Australia no longer had a 10-year strategic warning window for major conflict.

Addressing the role of technology, DGNI Shearer said, "The character of informal warfare is changing and changing very rapidly, and that means we have to stay up with the pace." He noted the impacts AI could have for misinformation and disinformation, and the ability of these emerging tools to have a strategic impact when integrated with traditional instruments of statecraft. He highlighted the democratisation of capabilities, particularly through technology, allowing non-state actors access to tools previously unavailable to them. 

DGNI’s call for preparedness echoed the sentiments of the panel, emphasising the importance of expanding military-industrial production, fostering technological capabilities, and safeguarding critical supply chains to effectively navigate new challenges. 

DGNI also underscored the importance of enhancing international cooperation and response capabilities through intelligence diplomacy, “because when governments share a common picture about the threat, they’re more likely to take coordinated and aligned action in response.”

To watch the full panel discussion visit: Raisina Dialogue 2024(Opens in a new tab/window)(Opens in a new tab/window)

12 March 2024

  • NIC
  • DGNI

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