5th Generation Thumbnail Sketches

Every 5th Generation War will be different, perhaps so different that they don’t seem to even belong in the same category. But if we accept some general features then we can explore some of the possibilities that follow from them. In an earlier post, Dan offers some significant thoughts:
If traditional war centered on an enemy’s physical strength, and 4GW on his moral strength, the 5th Generation of War would focus on his intellectual strength. A 5th Generation War might be fought with one side not knowing who it is fighting. Or even, a brilliantly executed 5GW might involve one side being completely ignorant that there ever was a war. It’s like the old question of what was the perfect robbery: we will never know, because in a perfect robbery the bank would not know that it was robbed.
The two elements that Dan highlights above are very important. 5GW isn’t just about using ideas to undermine the will of a people or government to fight, but about undermining a country’s ability to defend itself intellectually, one could say that it is an existential campaign that calls into question the very legitimacy of that country’s existence. A campaign that a country may not even be conscious of. So how would this be accomplished?
Mark at Zenpundit points out:
A strong possibility exists that given successive generations of warfare tend to drive “deeper” into enemy territory, that 5GW will mean systemic liquidation of enemy networks and their sympathizers, essentially a total war on a society or subsection of a society. There is no where ” deeper” for 5GW to go but here.
How deep is deep?  In 5GW the enemy might be a state or a foreign non-state actor or something homegrown. Whatever its source it would require that there be citizens willing to intentionally seek the defeat of their own country, or citizens who could be persuaded to adopt behaviors and ideas that would lead to defeat whether it was intentional or not. But the enemy in this case would realize that they can’t win a conventional war or even a 4th Generation War, so they devise deeper tactics. In 4GW the enemy attempts to use the target country’s media as a vehicle to sap the people’s and political leaders’ will to fight. In 5GW the enemy actually becomes the media and the political leadership. In 4GW a terrorist organization might attack a school or a courthouse in order to show that the government can’t defend itself; in 5GW the enemy would become the teachers and judges. It doesn’t get much deeper than that. And so a country might never know as Dan states above, that it is even at war or who the enemy is, or that they have lost the war.
So is there a role for the military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies? The 5GW operatives in democratic societies will remain “invisible” to the state unless they are inciting violence, plotting or engaging in illegal activity. And things become much more complicated if  they actually become the judges, intelligence officers, diplomats, policy makers etc. I don’t really think there is a major  role for the state in this kind of intellectual war, but rather think that ideas have to be fought with ideas, and that the people who want to defend their country from this kind of attack need to develop their own 5th generation tactics independent of the state.
Now, we are just brainstorming here, trying to sketch out some of the details of a potential 5th Generation of War. Thinking about this is like trying to see something at night. You catch a glimpse of something in your peripheral vision, then look directly at it and it disappears. Then you look away and can again see it in your peripheral vision. This can make you wonder whether there is really something there to see.
 A lot of questions still need answers. Does a 5th generation campaign need to be violent in order to be war? If war is politics by other means, then is 5GW war by other means? How do we distinguish, in a free society, between the legitimate promotion of ideas and policies and a 5th Generation War on our “intellectual strength”?
Posted by Phil

9 thoughts on “5th Generation Thumbnail Sketches”

  1. This is old hat. What you're describing already has a real world example, the communist effort to effect a “march through the institutions”. We're in the middle of cleaning out these “5GW enemy troops” and will be for at least another generation.

  2. TM, thanks always for the comment. I thought over my reply for a back, and I think I now understand 5GW better thanks to your and Phil's words. Thank you.

    I do not believe that the leftists in academia are 5GWarriors, or that they are there because of a 5th Generation War. The assault was loudly and honestly proclaimed by them, and was recognized by conservatives (such as Buckley) as being very dangerous. The super-empowerd individuals of that ideologically networked assault were classic 4th Generation Strivers.

    An interesting thought: If you look at a culture as an orgasnism — in other words, a “grand-strategic” view of the war — teachers function as part of the “Orientation” process, not the “Observation” process. Orientation is “shallower” in the OODA loop than Observation, and so would be the focus of an older generation of war. Perhaps the left's 4G assault on the education system was a “truer 4G” than the peasant revolts of China and Vietnam?

  3. Hi TM, Phil , Dan

    I have to side with Dan to an extent. Lenin's Bolshevik coup was a product of the circumstances and society that waged a 2GW (WWI) and evolved into a mass-production, industrialized, mass-man 3GW state that fought a 3GW (WWII).

    The Old Left of Gramsci's lifetime was 2GW/3GW – it was a mass movement for most of it's history. The New Left and its various offshoots of bastardized Marxism are 3GW/4GW affairs. While they are dishonest, manipulative, unethical and conspiratorial their hostile agenda certainly is no sceret ( at least to half the population not currently in denial at any rate).

  4. Hi Dan. I was wondering if you have thought to look in works of fiction for inspiration about discerning the characteristics of the next generation of warfare. Science fiction in particular has an uncanny ability to hint at or point towards the way things may be like in the future. For instance, Leo Szilard got the inspiration for the atomic bomb from a work of H.G. Wells called The Shape of Things to Come. Another fine fictional example comes from Hector Bywater with his prophetic book The Great Pacific War: A History of the American-Japanese Campaign of 1931-33. He was murdered in 1941. In thinking about your conjectures on the possible nature of 5GW, particularly the part about secrecy and attacking the intellectual core of the enemy, the first fiction that came to my mind was Star Wars. I've always enjoyed it since I was kid so it's dear to my heart. If you're not familiar with the story (which to my ultimate surprise my co-worker was not) I'll sum up. Lucas' morality play basically tells a kind of fairy-tale about the rise of an Evil Empire from a fallen Republic and the restoration of that Republic. Central to Lucas' story is the idea of The Force a mystical energy binding everything in the universe. There are two sides: the light side of the Force represented by the Jedi, guardians of the Republic (sort of like Medieval knights) who use their power dispassionately for the good of others and the dark side represented by the Sith who gain their strength for themselves through fear, anger and hatred. Eons before Lucas' Episode I, the Sith lost the battle for the galaxy and went into hiding, long forgotten. Now being a weakened force, how do they contend to regain dominance of the galaxy? They have to proceed quietly and steathily. The Sith are ambitious and aim straight for the top–the Chancellor of the Republic–to stir things their way and fortunately for them the Republic has become a bureaucratic, inefficient, and corrupt government. (Note if you haven't seen any of the films and would like to do so, untainted, what lies beneath contains details of the plot.) Thus begins Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which essentially revolves around an embargo of one solar system by a powerful Trade Federation. Unbeknownst to the Republic, the Trade Federation was instigated by the Sith Lord to take action against a system which he represented in the Galactic Senate under the guise of Senator Palpatine. His objectives are threefold. 1) Weaken the power of the Trade Federation by isolating them morally from the rest of the Republic, 2) Set the stage for the crisis so that the present Chancellor will be seen as weak, providing the impetus for a vote of no confidence, and 3) Create a sympathy vote for his system so he can get elected Chancellor. Though being elected Chancellor, the Palpatine/Sith Lord still has to play by the rules of the Republic. So how do you turn the Republic into the Empire? This brings us to Episode II: Attack of the Clones (cheesy title, I know) which occurs ten years later and right near the end of Palpatine's term of office. The Trade Federation, though weakened, starts to foment unrest rallying other systems disillusioned with the Republic to its side, again under the direction of the Sith Lord so he can stay in office. When it becomes clear the seperatists plan to use force against the Republic, panic sets in as it has not known war for thousands of years. The Senate is dead-locked so they pass the buck and give the Chancellor, aka Sith Lord, emergency powers to raise a clone army and prosecute a war, which irony of ironies the Jedi must lead, against the seperatists. This finally brings us to Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Three years later, Palpatine has stayed on long after his term has expired. (Wouldn't Bush or anybody like to do that. I wonder how the Democrats in Congress would react. LOL) The bogus war is nearing an end with “victory” in sight, so how does the Sith Lord stay in power after the reason for his extension is gone? He kills the seperatists leaders to leave no trace of his machinations and during the final battles delivers poetic justice to the Jedi–from his perspective–by using the very clone soldiers they are leading to slaughter them from the rear in one swift stroke. Thus with the clones under his control and no Jedi to oppose him the Sith win, turning the Republic into the Empire. So we have the weakened force using subterfuge to attack the enemy by weakening his unifying concept–the resolution of conflict by peaceful means–stretching over 13 years of development, probably longer since Lucas doesn't say how the Sith Lord became a Senator, with the blow coming very quickly at the end. The Republic also has no idea that the very war they are prosecuting is ultimately against themselves, which I thought was a brilliant plot twist by Lucas. Is this the sort of strategy or mode of thinking you had in mind for 5GW or not even close? Sorry about the length. I tried my best to condense.

  5. If 5GW takes aim at a country's “intellectual strength” then Gramsci's idea of “counter-hegemony” is certainly one way of doing that, though not necessarily the only way. Although Gramsci devised that strategy to further his own socialist beliefs, the strategy itself can be used by adherents of any ideology.

    If this strategy is 4G then isn't focusing on intellectual strength also 4G? After all 4G can involve attacks on culture, ideals and beliefs. The problem seems that while we are able to identify characteristics of 4G, we still haven't defined it's boundaries. If we don't know where it ends, then how do we know where 5G begins?

    How important is secrecy? After all if you can accomplish your goal without being secret, then why go through the trouble? You're right Dan that the American left was certainly not shy about their ambitions, and while people like Buckley were aware of those ambitions, in the end it really didn't matter, they were successful anyway. In a free society it is possible to “hide in plain sight.” You could publish your intentions and give lectures and chances are most people will just ignore you or dismiss you as a kook, and you could just go about your business as if you were operating in secret.

    For Gramsci, developing intellectuals and dominating intellectual institutions was not the goal, but the means. The goal was “hegemony”:

    “By hegemony, Gramsci meant the permeation throughout society of an entire system of values, attitudes, beliefs and morality that has the effect of supporting the status quo in power relations. Hegemony in this sense might be defined as an 'organising principle' that is diffused by the process of socialisation into every area of daily life. To the extent that this prevailing consciousness is internalised by the population it becomes part of what is generally called 'common sense' so that the philosophy, culture and morality of the ruling elite comes to appear as the natural order of things.”

    I have more questions than answers on this topic and I offer these thoughts as part of the brainstorming process. I don't know where we're going to end up, but it sure is a fun ride.

    Thanks TM, Dan, Mark and Gregory for leaving comments.

  6. Phil,

    Thank you for the excellent 'brainstorming' question! I opened up the comments page so many times, rereading your words and trying to find a good reply. It made me clarify my own thinking, and I went over the concepts in my head many times. Thank you

    The first man to describe “Generations” of War, Willian Lind, gave a test to see whether something is a real 'generation' by seeing if”absent a vast disparity in size, an army from a previous generation cannot beat a force from the new generation. ” (http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_2_03_04.htm).

    One way to think about this is that a 4GW force of 10,000 men can defeat a 3GW (blitzkrieg) force of 200,000 men, or that a 3GW force of 200,000 men can defeat a 2GW (WWI-style) force of 4,000,000 men.

    So 5GW, or SecretWar, has to be a way for a force of 500 guys to defeat that 10,000-man 4GW force.

    If the 4GWarriors knew about the 500 enemies they had that were manipulating events, they could mop those guys up easily. This is why secrecy is so important. Just ask yourself how much Zarqawi would weap over killing 500 “hypocrites.”

    The 5GW small size is its weaknss. It can'd fight in the field because it would be easily destroyed. It can't fight a war of ideas because it would be shouted down.

    To put it in “hegemony” terms, the 5GW warriors have no chance of influence the hegemony itself. But to any warrior, an unchangeable fact is not a problem — it is a weapon.

    The 5GWarrior must use the sling of the hegemony and the stone of the regime's power to win. The only way to do this is to influence what the Regime /observes/. All of the regime's decisions will be based on what the regime thinks is best, but with incorrect inputs. The regime will be applying the right /functions/ on the wrong /data/.

    In computer programming, this is called GIGO — Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    I think I addressed the questions on secrecy and hegemony, but I'm in a rush to finish before a Discover Channel documentary comes on, so I'm sure it's rambling and incoherent. 🙂

    Thanks again for the comment! Please, keep the thread alive! 🙂

  7. Ok ok- I myself am a bit of a nut; I grew up in the conspricy Sub-Culture and I've seen comments on other web sites of How Sub-Cultures would be a segment of the population that could recognize a 5th generational war– So now I'm going to ask about the elephant in the room. What about 6TH GENERATIONAL WARFARE. what does anyone think would be the tactics that would be used by 6GW to counter and beat 5GW. I myself have my ideas

    First of all by going by William Lind's concept of a force basicly 20 TIMES SMALLER then the previous generation winning in the next generation of warfare you would get a situation where a 6GW force of JUST 25 PEOPLE would beat a 5GW force of 500

    This is the first take on 6GW; the other take is that this 20 times smaller rule would be thrown out. This would result in a force more like the 4GW in size or even larger-However The most important difference regardless of force size in 6GW would be tactics.

    First of all 6GW would react to the importance of the media in 5GW by ACTIVLY TARGETING THE MEDIA-be it in physical, cyber or any other capacity (because the media is now to be considered for all intents and purposes a combatant)

    Second in respoce to the 5GW/anti-4GW tactics that were possibly used in the 1980's against central american communists-which in true modern 5GW would be “democide” against any supporters of an insurrection. 6GW/anti-5GW tactics would basicly cause the abolition of the idea of “non-combatiants” The possible beginnings of 6GW tactics can then actually be seen in the current wars in Africa which utilize child soldiers and beyond this all women would be pressed into service
    in a “neo-tribalistic ideal” or even a “terrorist culture”. In this scenario children, regardless of gender would be taught from birth to kill anyone who opposses their “terrorist culture” In other words childhood would be obsolete too.

    And Thirdly CIVILIZATION WOULD BE TARGETED. This goes beyond targeting the world trade center. ALL infrastructure and ALL THOSE WHO BELIVE IN SAID INFRASTRUCTURE. Going beyond the comic book V for Vendatta and it's targeting of police in a possible 5GW, a 6GW would target THE VERY CULTURE WHICH BELIVES IN POLICE-children would be abducted, and adult keepers of the culture would be liquidated, not just the police-ALL infrastructure that any city requires to function would be destroyed

    5GW may actually be the beginning of the end for democracy because it may sadly be that for the culture that 5GW aims to subvert/destroy to survive that democracy may be “too much of a hinderance” for it to beat the 5GW warriors in a 6gw

    My idea of 6GW is to go even deeper into the OODA loop to the point ware you are actually now behind even the observe part of the OODA loop-IF A 5GW IS DESIGNED TO ATTACK AN ENEMY'S INTELLECTUAL STRENGTH THEN A 6GW IS DESIGNED TO ATTACT AN ENEMY'S ABILITY TO EVEN OBSERVE-IT IS AN ATTACK ON A ENEMY'S CIVILIZATION IT'S SELF
    it is a total war against a society, so that society will be destroyed so then the 6GW warriors can recreate society

    As for concerns about democracy or human rights a 6GW warrior would say “they were all lies, humans are warriors and that is it”

    OF course in the long run a 6GW may just be a long term setup be the real powers of this world so they can bring about a 7GW or even an 8GW

    mwah, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!!!!!!!

  8. OF Course if by fighting a 5GW your objective is to destroy democracy and freedom inself then a 6GW IS ACTUALLY YOUR GOAL, IF A 6GW CAN'T BE FOUGHT WITH DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM……___ of course maybe it can…?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    But thinking this far ahead one may also be tempted to think that it is just a sad devolution of human society…..that the ability of people to be able to run and keep freedom and democracy going was sapped by 3 to 5 generations of media saturation (and if you think about it the media is one of the main players in what could be a 5GW)

    I'm not going to post again unless someone asks what a 7GW and 8GW could be

    And don't worry even I don't see a 9GW


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