From Blitzkrieg to Jigsaw Warfare: India’ Mosaic Warfare Strategy for a Hybrid Age

Integrating Technologies and Capabilities: India's Path to Mosaic Warfare.

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Lt Col Manoj K Channan
Lt Col Manoj K Channan
Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd) served in the Indian Army, Armoured Corps, 65 Armoured Regiment, 27 August 83- 07 April 2007. Operational experience in the Indian Army includes Sri Lanka – OP PAWAN, Nagaland and Manipur – OP HIFAZAT, and Bhalra - Bhaderwah, District Doda Jammu and Kashmir, including setting up of a counter-insurgency school – OP RAKSHAK. He regularly contributes to Defence and Security issues in the Financial Express online, Defence and Strategy, Fauji India Magazine and Salute Magazine. *Views are personal.

In an era where the nature of warfare is rapidly evolving, traditional military strategies are increasingly challenged by asymmetric threats, including terrorism, insurgency, and hybrid warfare. Nations worldwide are seeking innovative approaches to counter these complex security challenges effectively. One such strategic concept that has gained prominence is mosaic warfare. This approach emphasises flexibility, adaptability, and the integration of various military and non-military tools to create a dynamic, multi-domain response to threats. 

Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics in World War II, where an overwhelming force of armour, motorised infantry, artillery, and air power combined to force a local breakthrough that could then be exploited to continue the advance.

The second Offset strategy following the Vietnam War, which matured into the air-land battle concept, called for airborne sensors and missiles that could work together to overpower a sizeable Soviet army without having to escalate to nuclear warfare. Also known as Assault Breaker, the strategy is centred on deploying a system of systems.

Netcentric warfare is akin to a well-crafted jigsaw puzzle that fits like a hand in a glove to synergise all sensors with the command-and-control centres for quick decision-making. However, if any of the pieces collapse, the entire system fails. 

“Mosaic Warfare” like the ceramic tiles in mosaics, these individual war-fighting platforms are put together to make a larger picture, or in this case, a force package. The failure of a “tile” does not allow the system to collapse; however, the tile can be replaced by any other tile to keep the synergy.

The idea is to send so many weapons and sensor platforms to the enemy that its forces are overwhelmed. The pivots are dominance, predictability, deliberate inertia, lethality, surprise, and continuous speed to disrupt the enemy: observe, orient, decide, and act (OODA) loop.

These pivots play a critical role in the overall strategy of Mosaic Warfare, contributing to a holistic approach that seeks to overwhelm and outmanoeuvre the enemy through dynamic and multifaceted operations. 

Dominance. This multi-domain dominance ensures that adversaries cannot gain a foothold in any operational theatre, thus securing a strategic advantage. The goal is to create a situation where the combined capabilities of these platforms exceed the sum of their parts, leading to overwhelming force projection and decision superiority.

Predictability. Predictability, somewhat counterintuitively, involves strategically using predictable patterns to mislead the enemy. By establishing certain predictable behaviours or operations, commanders can deliberately deviate from these patterns to confuse and outmanoeuvre adversaries. 

Deliberate Inertia. Deliberate inertia is about controlling the tempo of operations to dictate the pace of conflict engagement. It involves calculating inaction or minimal action to conserve resources, force the enemy to reveal their intentions or create strategic ambiguity. 

Lethality. Lethality in Mosaic Warfare is focused on the efficient and effective use of force to achieve maximum impact with minimal expenditure of resources. The emphasis is on swiftly neutralising key targets and capabilities of the adversary, thereby diminishing their ability to sustain operations or mount effective defences.

Surprise. It involves the unexpected application of force, changes in tactics, or the sudden introduction of new technologies and capabilities. By constantly evolving and adapting, a force can keep its adversary off-balance, unable to predict or prepare for the next move. This unpredictability complicates the enemy’s decision-making processes and can lead to significant operational and strategic advantages.

Continuous Speed. Continuous speed refers to the ability to operate at a pace that outstrips the enemy’s decision cycles. By maintaining a high operational tempo and rapidly iterating tactics and strategies, forces can exploit fleeting opportunities and create new ones. This relentless pace aims to disrupt the enemy’s OODA loop.

Indian Context – Mosaic Warfare

 India is a country grappling with diverse security challenges ranging from terrorism in Kashmir and insurgencies in the North East, to Left-Wing Extremism (LWE); adopting mosaic warfare principles could mark a significant shift in its counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. 

Netcentric warfare and the evolution towards mosaic warfare represent significant shifts in military strategy and technology, influenced by the rapid advancements in information technology and the increasing importance of data and connectivity in combat operations. 

India’s Position on Mosaic Warfare

Technological Advancements. India has been investing in advanced technologies, including space, cyber, and AI, which are crucial for developing mosaic warfare capabilities. Its growing defence-industrial base is increasingly capable of producing sophisticated military hardware and software.

Strategic Partnerships. India’s strategic partnerships with countries like the United States, Russia, and France facilitate technology transfer and cooperation in defence and intelligence, enhancing its capabilities relevant to mosaic warfare.

Interoperability Challenges. Despite advancements, the Indian military faces interoperability among its branches and with international partners, which is crucial for the integrated operations characteristic of mosaic warfare.

Resource Constraints. While India’s defence budget is substantial, it faces constraints given the vast requirements for modernisation across its armed forces, impacting the pace at which it can adopt new technologies and concepts like mosaic warfare.

Defense Modernisation. India’s ongoing defence modernisation efforts, including the push for indigenisation under the “Make in India” initiative, offer opportunities to incorporate mosaic warfare principles into its strategic doctrine and capabilities.

Geopolitical Leverage. India’s strategic position and its role in the Indo-Pacific offer significant geopolitical leverage, enabling it to build coalitions that could enhance its mosaic warfare capabilities through shared intelligence and interoperability.

Regional Tensions. Persistent tensions with neighbouring countries, particularly China and Pakistan, require India to maintain a conventional force posture, potentially diverting resources from the more innovative aspects of mosaic warfare.

Implementation of Mosaic Warfare 

For the Indian Defence Forces to effectively prepare for and implement mosaic warfare, a comprehensive and multifaceted approach is needed. This approach must address technological, doctrinal, organisational, and human capital challenges. 

Develop Jointness Across Services. Foster a culture of joint operations and planning among the Army, Navy, and Air Force, moving beyond traditional siloed approaches to a more integrated defence posture. This includes establishing joint commands and integrating operations at all levels.

Enhance Network-Centric Operations. Build a robust, secure, and resilient digital infrastructure that allows seamless information sharing and coordination across all military branches, ensuring interoperability of systems and platforms.

Technological Advancement

Invest in Emerging Technologies. Prioritise investments in AI, cyber warfare, space capabilities, unmanned systems, and advanced communication technologies. These technologies are critical for developing the situational awareness, decision-making speed, and precision required in mosaic warfare.

Innovation and R&D. Encourage innovation through partnerships with academia, the private sector, and international allies. To maintain a technological edge, focus on research and development (R&D) in critical areas like quantum computing, robotics, and nanotechnology.

Organisational and Doctrinal Updates 

Adopt Mosaic Warfare Principles in Doctrine. Update military doctrines to incorporate mosaic warfare strategies, emphasising flexibility, distributed operations, and the use of autonomous systems in combat roles.

Reform Training and Education. Revamp military training programs to include simulations and exercises that reflect the realities of mosaic warfare, such as multi-domain operations and cyber-electronic activities. Enhance the digital literacy of the armed forces at all levels.

Capability Development and Procurement

Modular and Flexible Force Structure. Develop a modular force structure that can be quickly reconfigured to meet diverse mission requirements. This includes acquiring adaptable platforms and systems that can operate across different domains.

Innovative Procurement. Streamline procurement processes to emphasise agility and the ability to rapidly acquire and field new technologies. Foster closer collaboration with defence industries to ensure that acquisition programs align with mosaic warfare requirements. 

Cybersecurity and Resilience

Strengthen Cyber Defences. Given the centrality of information systems in mosaic warfare, bolster cybersecurity measures to protect critical infrastructure and communication networks from cyber-attacks.

Build Redundancy and Resilience. Ensure that military networks and systems have redundancy built-in and are resilient to attacks or failures, enabling continuous operation under adverse conditions.

 International Collaboration

Leverage Strategic Partnerships. Enhance military cooperation with key strategic partners who are advanced in mosaic warfare concepts, such as the United States, Israel, and France. This includes joint exercises, technology transfers, and intelligence sharing.

Participate in Multinational Frameworks. Engage actively in international defence frameworks and alliances that offer opportunities for learning best practices and acquiring new capabilities relevant to mosaic warfare.

Cultural and Leadership Transformation

Foster a Culture of Innovation. Encourage a culture within the defence forces that values innovation, experimentation, and calculated risk-taking. This cultural shift is essential for adapting to the rapidly changing nature of warfare.

Develop Adaptive Leadership. Cultivate a new generation of military leaders who are not only skilled in traditional warfare but are also adept at leveraging technology, making rapid decisions in fluid situations, and leading in a highly networked and information-centric environment.

Implementing these steps requires sustained effort, resources, and a commitment to transformation at all levels of the Indian Defence Forces. Successfully navigating the shift to mosaic warfare will enhance India’s strategic posture and ability to address the multifaceted security challenges of the 21st century.

Adapting mosaic warfare principles can indeed provide India with a sophisticated and multi-dimensional approach to counter hybrid warfare and terrorism challenges, particularly in regions such as the North East, Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas, and Kashmir. Mosaic warfare, emphasising flexibility, adaptability, and integration of various military and non-military tools, offers a comprehensive framework that could enhance India’s capabilities in addressing these complex security issues. 

Enhanced Situational Awareness 

Integrated Intelligence Acquisition. By leveraging advanced surveillance technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) for data analysis, and integrating intelligence from various sources (human, signal, cyber), India can achieve a more nuanced understanding of terrorist networks, their modus operandi, and potential threats.

Real-Time Information Sharing. Mosaic warfare encourages seamless real-time information sharing across different branches of the security forces, including military, paramilitary, and police forces, improving coordination and response times.

Flexible and Rapid Response Capabilities

Decentralised Command and Control. Adopting mosaic warfare principles allows for more decentralised decision-making, enabling forces on the ground to respond more swiftly and effectively to emerging threats based on real-time intelligence.

Multi-Domain Operations. Utilising capabilities across domains (land, air, cyber, and space) ensures a comprehensive approach to counter-terrorism operations, disrupting adversaries’ communications, logistics, and command structures.

Integration of Non-Military Measures

Civil-Military Integration. Mosaic warfare’s holistic approach emphasises the importance of integrating civil and military efforts, enhancing the effectiveness of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations. This includes cooperation in intelligence sharing, infrastructure development, and winning hearts and minds.

Psychological Operations and Information Warfare. Effective use of psychological operations and information warfare can help counter the propaganda and recruitment efforts of terrorist organisations, an essential element in hybrid warfare scenarios.

Advanced Technologies for Precision Strikes. Precision-guided munitions, drones, and other advanced technologies can help minimise collateral damage and target terrorist hideouts effectively, which is crucial in populated areas.

Cyber and Electronic Warfare. Leveraging cyber capabilities to disrupt terrorist networks’ communications and financial transactions, alongside electronic warfare techniques to neutralise threats, plays a critical role in modern counter-terrorism.

Collateral Damage and Civilian Casualties. The application of mosaic warfare in counter-terrorism operations must carefully consider the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties, especially given the hybrid warfare environment where distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants can be challenging.

Legal and Ethical Concerns. Using advanced technologies and new warfare tactics raises legal and ethical questions, particularly regarding autonomy in warfare, cyber operations, and surveillance. Adherence to domestic and international law is paramount.

Adaptability of Adversaries. Terrorist and insurgent groups are often highly adaptable, learning from counter-terrorism measures and evolving tactics. India’s security forces must remain flexible and innovative, continuously updating their strategies to stay ahead.

Adapting mosaic warfare principles offers promising avenues for enhancing India’s counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency capabilities, but it requires a careful, balanced approach. Integration of advanced technologies, inter-agency cooperation, adherence to legal and ethical standards, and a focus on civil-military relations is crucial for effectively containing and eliminating terrorism within the framework of mosaic warfare.


Adapting mosaic warfare principles offers a promising pathway for India to enhance its counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency strategies. By leveraging the strengths of mosaic warfare, including enhanced situational awareness, flexible and rapid response capabilities, integration of non-military measures, and a technological edge, India can develop a more comprehensive and practical approach to combat the multifaceted nature of modern security threats. However, implementing such a strategy requires careful consideration of the challenges and ethical implications involved, including the potential for collateral damage, civilian casualties, and legal concerns. Moreover, the dynamic and adaptable nature of terrorist and insurgent groups necessitates continuous innovation and adaptation on the part of India’s security forces. Ultimately, embracing mosaic warfare principles could improve India’s strategic posture against current threats and prepare its defence and security apparatus for future conflicts. As India navigates the complex landscape of hybrid warfare, the principles of mosaic warfare stand as a beacon for a more resilient, agile, and integrated defence strategy.


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