The Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) loop of John Boyd is not only a model of human cognition.
It is also useful in aligning the generations of modern war within the framework of human cognition
Likewise, the broader Observe-Orient-Decide-Act/Penetrate-Isolate-Subvert-Reorient-Reharmonize Social loop is not only a model of social cognition
It is also useful in aligning the kinetic intensity within the framework of social cognition
Both of these findings can be synthesized by viewing the generations of modern war within the framework of social cognition.
Consider that the second generation of modern war (2GW), based on concentrate of firepower, is the strong-suit of the state in war. Likewise, consider that the fourth generation of modern war (4GW), based on idealogical coherency, is the strong-suit of the insurgent in war.
From this we can place the third generation of modern war (3GW), based on mobility, in between the state’s and the insurgent’s spheres of influence.
And this makes sense. In Patterns of Conflict, John Boyd describes maneuver warfare as “blitz/guerrilla.”
There are two remaining generations of modern war, and both fall outside the realms of the state and non-state. The first generation (1GW), built on total mobilization, was designed for states able to conscript a large fraction of the male population but unable to communicate effectively enough to effective combine firepower. Thus we place 1GW to the left of 2GW, as belonging to an actor which we would describe as a state… almost. (Compare the workings of Napoleonic France to that of a modern state to see how a 1G “state” falls short.)
Likewise, place the fifth generation of modern warfare (5GW) to the right of 4GW. 5GW is the domain of non-states… almost. When a 5GW is used by a state, it’s actually the province of a “state within” that acts as an internal insurgency. The Military-Industrial-Complex devised by President Truman is the work of such a 5GW conspiracy-within-the-state.
Blue Circle encompasses the Realm of the State
Red Circle encompasses the Realm of the Non-State
The take-away from this visualization is as follows:
- each ‘higher’ generation of war is less kinetically intense than the one before it.
- Further, states tend to be victorious in areas where intensity is high but not overwhelming — between 2GW and 3GW.
- At the same time, non-states tend to be victorious at low but not underwhelming kinetic intensity — between 3GW and 5GW.
- Finally, 1GW and 5GW fall outside the realms of both the state and the non-state, and into the lands of the proto-state and the state-within.