Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 39

Thread: 4GW & Other Myths

  1. #1
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default 4GW & Other Myths

    Fourth-Generation War and Other Myths
    ...there is no reason to reinvent the wheel with regard to insurgencies—super or otherwise—and their various kin. A great deal of very good work has already been done, especially lately, on that topic, to include the effects that globalization and information technologies have had, are having, and are likely to have, on such movements. We do not need another label, as well as an incoherent supporting logic, to obscure what many have already made clear. The fact that 4GW theorists are not aware of this work, or at least do not acknowledge it, should give us pause indeed. They have not kept up with the scholarship on unconventional wars, nor with changes in the historical interpretations of conventional wars. Their logic is too narrowly focused and irredeemably flawed. In any case, the wheel they have been reinventing will never turn.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Hello Jedburgh,
    I wasn't that familiar with 4GW until I scanned the link that you provided.
    Here's an excerpt from the abstract.

    "In brief, the theory holds that warfare has evolved through four
    generations: 1) the use of massed manpower, 2) firepower, 3) maneuver,
    and now 4) an evolved form of insurgency that employs all available
    networks—political, economic, social, military—to convince an
    opponent’s decisionmakers unachievable or too costly."

    Does the notion of 4GW look as fatally flawed as the author believes? I haven't read the whole link, so I can't speak intelligently about the theory or the author's opinions. But from what I gathered in the abstract, he believes that supporters of the 4GW theory believe that war has gone through 4 evolutions through history, and that modern day insurgents are now employing a "4th Gen" of war. The author believes that this theory is flawed, but I didn't get to the reasons why he believed this. Any opinions?
    There are a terrible lot of lies going around the world, and the worst of it is half of them are true.
    -Winston Churchill

  3. #3
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Scary
    ...from what I gathered in the abstract, he believes that supporters of the 4GW theory believe that war has gone through 4 evolutions through history, and that modern day insurgents are now employing a "4th Gen" of war. The author believes that this theory is flawed, but I didn't get to the reasons why he believed this. Any opinions?
    Simply put, this method of warfare has been around as long as war itself. However, in modern military doctrine it has been "relabled" over and over again (i.e. guerrilla war, partisan war, small wars, insurgency, low-intensity conflict, etc). Now calling it 4GW and engaging in pseudo-intellectual discussions over its relevance in the current operational environment doesn't change the fact that the basic principles of this type of warfare have held true for centuries.

  4. #4
    Banned
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    167

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh
    Simply put, this method of warfare has been around as long as war itself.
    You are absolutely correct! However, it is now at the forefront and compounded with information technology(faster organizational OODA loops and vast exposure toward the global mass) and state failures from globalization(a borderless planet, economic vulnerabilities).

    However, in modern military doctrine it has been "relabled" over and over again (i.e. guerrilla war, partisan war, small wars, insurgency, low-intensity conflict, etc).
    It is not a relable but an alternative perspective. There is more than one way to skin a cat......

    Now calling it 4GW and engaging in pseudo-intellectual discussions over its relevance in the current operational environment doesn't change the fact that the basic principles of this type of warfare have held true for centuries.
    This is why the US military is still looking for their bag-of-what-da-####. Do they give frontal lobotomies at staff colleges/war colleges/officer re-education camp? Dumbasses think this war is "assymetrical", as though it is breaking all the rules. Idiots
    Last edited by GorTex6; 12-24-2005 at 12:53 AM.

  5. #5
    Banned
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    167

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Scary
    I wasn't that familiar with 4GW
    Here and here

    the original paper from Oct 1989

    Col. Hammes with greater detail, Sept 1994
    Last edited by GorTex6; 01-19-2006 at 08:29 PM.

  6. #6
    DDilegge
    Guest

    Default Exception Taken...

    Quote Originally Posted by GorTex6
    This is why the US military is still looking for their bag-of-what-da-####. Do they give frontal labotomies at staff colleges/war colleges/military re-education camp? Dumbasses think this war is "assymetrical", as though it is breaking all the rules.
    I sincerely believe that many within the DoD and "think-tank" communities are attempting to reinvent the wheel in terms as discussed here.

    What I object to is a blanket condemnation of "all" institutions - especially our school houses. I know that our PME institutions are adapting their curriculum. One example is contained here - Concept Paper For CSC Master Thesis Project. Beyond the thesis, the USMC Command and Staff College has completely revamped its curriculum in an attempt to better educate our future Small Wars Leaders. Like COIN, education and training takes time for actions to produce results.

  7. #7
    Banned
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    167

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DDilegge
    I know that our PME institutions are adapting their curriculum.
    ....and it took how long? - proof that the enemy has a steeper organizational learning curve(faster OODA loop). Our massive heirarchic "up the chain" command structure is vulnerable and inefficient when compaired to the enemies decentralized structure and open sourced methods. This is covered by 4GW theorists BTW.....

    Dumbasses think this war is "assymetrical", as though it is breaking all the rules.
    Who's got the bankrupt theory?
    Last edited by GorTex6; 12-24-2005 at 01:30 AM.

  8. #8
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Washington, Texas
    Posts
    305

    Default Another name for a raiding strategy

    Archer Jones in his [I]The Art of War in the Western World[I] breaks strategies into two different categories, raiding and combat persisting. Since the end of "major combat operations" in Iraq, we have gone from fighting in the combat persisting mode to fighting a raiding strategy. While there has been more emphasis on intelligence in this war, we are finally in a position to employ the operations that have been traditionally used to defeat the raiding strategy. Historically, raiders have been defeated by employing enough force to space to cut off the raiders ability to manuever and retreat. Raiders generally rely on the superiority of retreat to pursuit. With enough manpower you can cut off the raiders ability to manuever. The raider is most vulnerable when moving.

    The raider also relies on the amiguity of the time and place of his attacks. That is one reason why the enemy could not effectively attack during the election. The time and place of his target was known and adequate defensive measures were in place to deal with it. In Iraq the enemy is unusually weak. He is totally ineffective at attacking a defended position. With the Iraqi troops providing the man power to meet the force to space requirement needed, the number of attacks has dropped dramatically. I believe the US strategy of waiting for the trained Iraqis was based on the perception that employing US troops in that role would generate greater resistance to "occupation." I also believe they needed to do a better job of explaing this strategy.

    Another aspect of defeating a raiding strategy is denial of sanctuaries. Recent operations in Western Iraq appear to be effective in doing that. This includes a focus on weapons manufacturing and supply. By focusing on taking out the bomb makers and the human bomb ordinance as well as weapons caches we have effected the enmy's ability to pursue his strategy. Another unusual aspect of the war in Iraq is the enemy's inability to effect the ability of US forces to operate in the battle space. While all raiders general avoid direct battle if possible, the enemy in Iraq has focused his attacks on non combatants that has no effect on the corelation of forces. While his forces have been attrited, he has not been able to effectively attrite US forces. His strategy has been aimed more at gaining a victory by appealing to the antiwar movement in this country and its political allies who do not have the will to win. That is an area where the current administration has only recent reengaged.

    There are many in the anti war movement who are very invested in opposing the use of force in general. These neo quagmirest are quick to suggest that anytime an enemy uses a raiding strategy the US should just give up and retreat before it becomes "bogged down." Defeating an enemy who uses a raiding strategy robs them of their quagmire argument. I think that is why many of them appear to be rooting for a US defeat and a hasty retreat from victory in Iraq.

    It is my opinion that Fourth Generation warfare is just another name for the oldest military strategy--the raiding strategy.

  9. #9
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,164

    Default What ever it is, we're not good at it

    I wonder what Echevarria’s agenda was in writing 4GW and Other Myths? His comments were extremely arrogant; the same type of arrogance that led to poor strategic planning for the Vietnam War and the initial stages of OIF. Although he made some sound arguments, he lost credibility with me when he wrote "everything" on war has already been written. That mind set has persisted throughout history, and it has always been proven wrong. That doesn’t mean that 4GW theorists are right. We have a terrible record of predicting the future. There are always several variables we never calculate for, and then in hind sight they seem so obvious we wonder why we missed them.

    There were several areas of 4GW that Mr. Echevarria failed to address, and one that I would like to address is the assumption that the Nation State is steadying losing power, while non-state actors are becoming more powerful. Most folks today hear non-state actors, and they automatically think Al-Qaeda, but the definition extends far beyond this realm of actors. Consider the following:

    1. Globalization (economic model, not political) equals increasing power of multinational corporations that make their own foreign policy and have increasing large security apparatuses. There is much concern on how to control them, while some argue not controlling them will actually lead to more stability, because the nation’s economies will be too interdependent to allow waging war upon one another. Hopefully this isn’t wishful thinking.

    2. Transnational criminal organizations becoming increasingly sophisticated and capable of influencing significant political influence through infiltration, bribery, threats, and terrorism. The Italian mob is now the babes in the woods compared to Russian, Chinese, and Latin American gangs. I would throw the Aryan Nation under this group and their ilk under this group also.

    3. Large sections of the world are defaulting back to tribal and other undesired political organizations because the State (no longer supported as a proxy in the cold war) doesn’t have the power to control the majority of their population, throughout much of sub-Sahara Africa, South Asia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, etc.

    4. Ability of NGOs/PVOs to influence the international audience and force states and non-state actors to act.

    5. The growing power of religious organizations. We have our own version of the Taliban in the U.S. thumping the bible and advocating non-state sponsored action against abortion clinics, and in some cases calling for separation from the State (Aryan Brotherhood).

    In short our world is changing and so is the nature of conflict. Are the 4GW theorists right? I don’t know, but I disagree strongly with Echevarria’s view that all we need to know has been written already.

    GorTex is right, unconventional warfare (in varying degrees) has been around throughout the history of man (it brought Rome to its knees), and that our military institutions have been slow to adapt to the reality on the street. Vietnam was a perfect example of a failed PME beginning with a non-functional West Point Culture that generated officers more concerned about maintaining traditions than dealing effectively with our nation’s security issues. However, I think everyone gets it now.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 12-24-2005 at 06:10 AM.

  10. #10
    DDilegge
    Guest

    Default Credit When Due...

    Quote Originally Posted by GorTex6
    ....and it took how long? - proof that the enemy has a steeper organizational learning curve(faster OODA loop). Our massive heirarchic "up the chain" command structure is vulnerable and inefficient when compaired to the enemies decentralized structure and open sourced methods. This is covered by 4GW theorists BTW.....

    Who's got the bankrupt theory?
    Eek, eye roll and cool avatars aside...

    My experience is with USMC PME so I'll mainly address that. The Marine Corps school-houses have addressed Small Wars issues for years... This includes the captain's course (AWS – now EWS), the major’s course (CSC) and the lieutenant colonel's course (USMC War College).

    I offered up the new CSC curriculum as an example of how the USMC CSC is adapting even more to our Small Wars environment. All that said, I would opine that the other services’ PME institutions have been and are currently doing the same. This last statement is based on the student papers, thesis, and monographs that these schools have produced.

    Whether “good ideas” and “spot-on” research and recommendations translate to actionable items in the operating forces is another issue.

    I would submit that we need to give our military professionals more credit… Small Wars, by nature, has a heavy political element that does not necessarily translate to efficiency and often puts the cabash on the “good ideas”.

  11. #11

  12. #12
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,164

    Default Give our military professionals more credit

    Quote Originally Posted by DDilegge
    I would submit that we need to give our military professionals more credit… Small Wars, by nature, has a heavy political element that does not necessarily translate to efficiency and often puts the cabash on the “good ideas”.
    Your comment about our military professionals is spot on with the possible exception of Vietnam under GEN Westmoreland's lead. Undoubtedly he faced he faced an incredible challenge on the hill. Maybe his policy of total war against N. Vietnam would have worked if he wasn't impeded by President Johnson who was famously quoted they won't bomb an outhouse unless I give them permission to. While I think the war of movement in Vietnam was probably the wrong approach, and on that we can only speculate with the benefit of hindsight.

    Almost all officers I have spoken with from Lts through GO's have an understanding of insurgencies and unconventional warfare. They may all have different recommendations on strategy, but as a whole they're a ray of hope. The bottom line is that the military can’t always translate bad policy into a successful mission. While I think the so called Powell Doctrine was unrealistic, I can definitely understand why many in the military embraced it. We can’t count on our nation to do well in these abstract conflicts, because we do a poor job of educating those we need support from throughout the DIME, which we can discuss in the DIME forum.

    You’re right, across the board we have a very professional force that America can and should be proud of.

  13. #13
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Washington, Texas
    Posts
    305

    Default The communist insurgency in Vietnam failed

    After their Tet offensive failed, the communist insurgency was never able to threaten conquest of South Vietnam. It had been defeated for all practicle purposes. The Hanoi leadership recognized this and eventually won using a "convential" or combat persiting strategy that was successful when the Congress denied the South Vietnamese the air support we had earlier promised them.

  14. #14
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,164

    Default Failed attack?

    Merv,

    You have provided several thought provoking ideas, and I'm undecided if I agree with your analysis on what you are calling failed attacks. I think you're right reference Vietnam, because the TET offensive was an attempt to defeat us militarily, but the enemy noted an unintended effect on the American population (eroded our will), so they kept pushing that button to pressure us out of Vietnam. What a different world we could be living in today if the press actually reported the battle results accurately as a major defeat for the communist forces. It can be argued we left Vietnam as winners with a relatively secure S. Vietnam, but one that wasn't capable of repulsing a conventional N. Vietnam offensive without our promised help. Our help didn’t arrive because their previously failed attacks effectively eroded our will to stay in the fight, so it can be argued that their failed attacks worked so in the end I still remain undecided.

    In Iraq I don't think the enemy has any intention of defeating us militarily and all of their attacks are directly focused on America's will to stay in the fight, so whether they're successful from a tactical stand point or not isn't the true measure of effectiveness. Rather it is their effect on the intended audience. I think the terrorists grossly underestimate the will of the American people to stick it out, but then again that national will must be stoked by effective leadership in the White House. Our President’s recent speeches admitting mistakes seem to be working with the American public. Now he is a gladiator in the arena instead of a by stander making statements that just didn’t ring true with the American public. If he can keep rebuilding his support base, I think we’ll do fine.

  15. #15
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    16

    Default

    Some weaknesses of 4GW are:

    (1): Misrepresentation of Clausewitz and Clausewitz's followers

    “Unlike Clausewitzian warfare, which envisions war as an act of policy in a contest between states, 4GW more resembles a boxer versus a viral infection.”

    Clausewitz is generally depicted as describing only state vs. state conflicts. The adherents of Clausewitz are then depicted as “state-centric” warriors who only can only deal with state to state conflicts.

    However many Clausewitzians believe On War is a descriptive work not a prescriptive one. It describes war as it is, in its universal nature, rather than how it ought to be. They apply Clausewitz to non-state actors as well as state actors. They argue the trinity of primordial violence, blind chance and reason are conceptual and apply to any warfighting entity (i.e. non-state actor or state). They are not focused on state vs. state wars nor do they believe that Clausewitz was focused on state vs. state conflicts.

    Colin Gray being an example:

    http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/P...pring/gray.htm

    (2): Misrepresentation of Mao

    If Mao is the epitome of 4GW, Eastern Warfare and Sun-Tzu why did he frame his perception of warfare within the paradigm of the Clausewitzian Trinity? Why did Mao insist that all wars were political in nature? Why did he argue that there was never a war that was not political? Mao’s insistence that war is nothing but politics with bloodshed is in stark contrast to the 4GW theory as set out by William Lind:

    “Now, as then, many different entities, not just governments of states, will wage war, and they will wage war for many different reasons, not just “the extension of politics by other means.”

  16. #16
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Washington, Texas
    Posts
    305

    Default Keeping up the national will

    Bill,

    I agree with you on the importance of maintaining the national will and I am glad that Bush has reengaged on this aspect of the war. I think the commanders also should be educating the public on the significance of events. If you recall during the first Gulf War, Iraq captured a small town in Saudia Arabia while the coalition was still in the "shaping the battlespace" phase, i.e. the preinvasion bombing. Gen. Schwartkoph was emphatic in stating that the attack on Kafje was not important and would not divert the plan of attack on liberating Kuwait. As I recall the Iraqis were eventually driven out by the Saudi National Guard troops, because the Saudis thought it was significant. My point is that the General did a good job of shaping perceptions and he was in a much better position to do so than the President. Unfortunately in Iraq the briefings are no longer making a splash on the news back in the states. Perhaps Gen. Pace can command a larger audience. Getting accurate information to the public is clearly an important aspect of this war and unfortunately the media is not likely to cooperate.

  17. #17
    DDilegge
    Guest

    Default On Kafji

    Kafji was insignificant to a point. The fact that the Iraqi's crossed into Saudi Arabia had the potential to influence the perceptions of the Muslim members of the coalition. The SANG took back Kafji with substantial U.S. support and went a long way in building up the confidence level of the SANG and other coaltion partners who had no previous combat experience or extensive training in the type of operations that were about to be conducted.

  18. #18
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Washington, Texas
    Posts
    305

    Default Kafji

    It was certainly more significant than any action initiated by the enemy since the end of major combat operations in the second Gulf War. However Schwartzkoph was determined not to let it be a distraction to his plan to liberate Kuwait, and he took action with the media to make certain that they did not turn it into something it was not. I think commanders in Iraq need to be more proactive in explaining the significance and insignificance of events. It is clear to me that the media does not comprehend the difference.

  19. #19
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    16

    Default

    The number one thing that 4GW lacks is basis in primary source documentation. For example, the claim that Mao is a paragon of 4GW warfare. How can a paragon of 4GW warfare say things like this:

    "War is the continuation of politics." In this sense war is politics and war itself is a political action; since ancient times there has never been a war that did not have a political character.” Mao-Tse Tung

    From Lin Biao

    "The essence of Comrade Mao Tse-tung's theory of army building is that in building a people's army prominence must be given to politics, i.e., the army must first and foremost be built on a political basis. Politics is the commander, politics is the soul of everything. Political work is the lifeline of our army. True, a people's army must pay attention to the constant improvement ot its weapons and equipment and its mlilitary technique, but in its fighting it does not rely purely on weapons and technque, it relies mainly on politics, on the proletarian revolutionary consciousness and courage of the the commanders and fighters, on the support and backing of the masses."

    If Mao and Lin-Biao analyzed warfare today, they would still comment that 21st century warfare is still an extension of politics. Because that belief was at the heart of their worldview and war planning strategy. Hardly 4GW archetypes.
    Last edited by War Hammer; 12-31-2005 at 03:29 AM.

  20. #20
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    16

    Default

    We also hear from the 4GW that the U.S. Army is so state centric that it is unable to deal with non-state actors. The 4GW further blames this on Clausewitz. How is it Clausewitz's fault if the U.S. military is geared to fighting states? Why would be Clausewitz's fault if some in the U.S. military misread his work and believed that all conflicts are state centric?

    Clausewitzian critics have often accused him of being the granddaddy of "total war" or "absolute war." However, "absolute war" was a conceptual tool that Clausewitz used to show how real war is an extension of politics. He used "absolute war" to show how why war does not have its own logic. Clausewitz never advocated "absolute war" because he did not believe it existed.

    4GW authors have argued jthat war is governed by its own logic and that it is separated from politics. The British military historian and anti-Clausewitzian John Keegan has also argued that war has its own logic.

    Clausewitz anticipated and argued against theorists who contend that war has its own logic. Clausewitz devised the concepts of “absolute war” and “real war” to show why warfare can never be isolated from the politics that drives it. “Absolute war” is an abstract description of how warfare would operate in a state where it is disconnected from politics. “Real war” is how war actually operates as an extension of politics. Absolute war is divorced from politics and guided by its own logic of three reciprocal extremes. Each side in war is compelled to meet its opponent’s action reciprocally which in turn causes war, in theory, to be pushed to extremes. The first reciprocal law of “absolute war” is violence driven to the utmost extreme. During “real war” the amount of violence and effort committed to ending a war is determined and limited by the political objective. The second reciprocal law is the complete disarming of the enemy. In “real war” the disarming or complete defeat of the enemy is not the only way to victory. Clausewitz stated, “...that in war many roads lead to success, and that they do not all involve the opponent’s outfight defeat.” The third reciprocal law is that opponents in war will exert the most extreme effort and resources in destroying each other. In “real war” logistics, geography, the uncertainties of combat and political objectives will limit a state’s effort and commitment of resources. Clausewitz uses “absolute war” as a vehicle to show how politics describes the behavior of real war.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •