NCO v. 4GW

The Pentagon’s Debate Over What Iraq Means,” by Thomas P.M. Barnett, The Command Post, http://www.command-post.org/oped/2_archives/018611.html, 24 January 2005.

With no comment other than “I need to learn more about this,” I present Dr. Barnett’s latest article:

The current fight between NCO and 4GW, over who “lost” the war in Iraq, is basically a repeat of the Rumsfeld-Shinseki argument. The 4GWers accuse NCOers of blindly stumbling from a 3GW victory over Saddam into a 4GW stalemate with the insurgency. But again, this accusation tends to conflate two very different situations: one the war, the other the subsequently botched peace. But the 4GW crowd’s answer can’t be simply, “Let’s get ready for counter-insurgencies because NCO is powerless to deal with them.”

In short, our choice isn’t between Network-Centric Operations or Fourth Generation Warfare, it’s how we focus each effectively on the logically-defined tasks of effective regime change, a list that covers both war and peace. A Pentagon debate that pits these two visions of war against one another is self-defeating and a waste of time. We must take advantage of the force-structure savings allowed by NCO (e.g., the smaller footprint) to build up our 4GW capabilities and marry those with the larger force requirements entailed in successful SysAdmin work.