Orientation and Action, Part II: The OODA-PISRR Loop

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

ooda_pisrr_09

It is also useful in aligning the kinetic intensity within the framework of social cognition

waveform_one

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.”

(One might just as easily as say “Global Guerrilla / Panzer General“)

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.

Orientation and Action, a tdaxp series
1. The OODA Loop
2. The OODA-PISRR Loop

13 thoughts on “Orientation and Action, Part II: The OODA-PISRR Loop”

  1. Excellent work, Dan. I can't believe there is just the one comment over at 5GW by Ryan, who needs a link to the 'shift to the unseen' post of some time ago to explain the placement of the 2GW arrow… I'm still digesting this post. Could we not, instead of 'the state-within', consider 'post-statism' in that it's a move beyond the state, yet one we must make surrounded by, somewhat tethered to, and intimately familiar with state constructs?
    Isaac
    PS – I still can't use my Typekey from work…so, I had to post here.

  2. I still am not clear on the definition of 5GW. Arherring's definition over at D5GW [1] is way too vague for my tastes. The combination of your OODA loop diagram and your note that 5GW is waged by “states within” (i.e. conspiracies of individuals leveraging state power for their own ends?) comes closest to something solid that I can choose to either agree or disagree with. Are you working with Arherring's definition or do you have something more solid in your head?

    [1] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2007/01/working_definition_v_23.php

  3. 2GW exceeds 1GW in kinetics – both quantitatively as well as qualitatively.

    Moreover, I think the argument can be made that 2GW forces will continue to steadily expand their kinetics until they reach either victory or an economic sticking point that curtails further increase.

  4. zenpundit,

    “2GW exceeds 1GW in kinetics – both quantitatively as well as qualitatively. “

    Could you elaborate?

    “I think the argument can be made that 2GW forces will continue to steadily expand their kinetics until they reach either victory or an economic sticking point that curtails further increase.”

    This was attempted during World War I and failed.

    The breakthroughts that did occur in the Great War involved far less concentration of firepower — and even less firepower — but better strategy/initiative/infiltration (see hte “Blitzkrieg and guerrilla strategy” slide above).

    Adrian & Isaac,

    A fifth generation force works to achieve its objectives through pertburbing systems in such a war that further work is unnessary.

    In the context of a state-sponsored 5GW, a state-within will generate a state-beyond that then has a logic of its own. The Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex is a perfect example by this. A small cadre during the Truman years were able to build up an enormous transpolitical operation, consisting of the bureaucracy, congress, and contractors [1], that survives to this day.

    In the context of an insurgent-sponsored 5GW, a guerrlla core will provoke a crisis that, if all goes well, ends in a preferred outcome. The last section of “Dreaming 5th Generation War” [2] provides a hypothetical example of this.

    In both cases the 5GW organization operates this way because it perceives its own weakness. In both examples I gave, the small group of 5GWs recognize that they cannot win a political (let alone a military) struggle against their opponents and cannot otherwise enforce their will.

    Isaac,

    “Could we not, instead of 'the state-within', consider 'post-statism' in that it's a move beyond the state, yet one we must make surrounded by, somewhat tethered to, and intimately familiar with state constructs?”

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/07/07/describing-the-military-industrial-sysadmin-complex-how-we-w.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/20/dreaming-5th-generation-war.html

  5. The ” breakthroughs” to which you refer are movement toward the 3rd generation. 2nd Generation continued to develop in a linear path alongside the emerging manuverist generation.

    2nd generation tactics continued to increase in orders of magnitude for the duration of the Great War until combatants were stymied by supply problems. This trend continued in WWII where Soviet forces, a 2nd Generation attrition-focused entity if there ever was one, assembled whole *artillery armies* ( possibly reaching artillery/rocket army corps as well but I would have to check that)

  6. The Russians get a great deal of unwarranted criticism for their casualties. The fact is it was going to take millions of casualties to defeat the German army that had invaded their country, which was a very different German army than we faced off against in Western Europe. There was no other way for them to do it. We supported what they did. What do you think was their alternative? The French approach?

  7. “What do you think was their alternative? The French approach?”

    Actually, it was the French approach (for the most part) but with economies of scale in manpower.

    Secondly, no one here is arguing that the Soviets were not facing the bulk of the Wehrmacht. Criticism leveled by most experts at Russian performance in WWII has to do with the rigidity in tactics that Stalin imposed on Red Army commanders early in the war that raised Russian casualty rates to stratospheric levels.

  8. The French solution to Blitzkrieg was surrender.

    The Russians figured out a different solution.

    A lot of the experts wrote with a Cold War purpose in mind, which is not the same thing as military history. I really don't see how the Russian military as deployed and equipped could both fight and avoid immense casualties in 1941. Stalin had purged his officer corps, which had a very negative impact, but I doubt those officers would have saved significant numbers of men in 1941; I think they would have inflicted more damage on the Germans, but perhaps at an even greater loss of Russian soldiers: fewer surrenders and more casualties in combat. Another very real possibility is the purged officer group may have overthrown Stalin and simply surrendered to the like-minded Germans. The subsequent loss of civilian life could easily have been just as staggering as the Stalin purges.

    There existed in 1941 no proven way to defeat Blitzkrieg the easy way. So the Russians started mauling it the hard way. That's what 1941 was all about. Me, I'm glad those little commie boys fought and died in such numbers. They saved the world.

  9. zenpundit,

    The kinetics (there has to be a better term for this) of a generation of war is undefined except in relation to other generations of war. That is, equiavelent generational forces can exist at any point in the absolute violence scale, but for every generation one force is ahead, it can be twenty times or so less kinetic than the force it opposes.

    sonofsamphm1c,

    “The subsequent loss of civilian life could easily have been just as staggering as the Stalin purges.”

    Anything is possible. Was it realistic?

    “Me, I'm glad those little commie boys fought and died in such numbers. They saved the world.”

    Emphasis on both “fighting” and “dying” in their role on saving the world.

  10. sonofsamphm1c,

    “The French solution to Blitzkrieg was surrender.

    The Russians figured out a different solution”

    No. French surrender and Russian victory were both undertaken with the same model of combat in mind – attrition, heavily reliant upon artillery. The Soviets simply had greater will, strategic depth, reserves of manpower and material aid from the United States.

    The Soviets could not engage in the alternative because they did not have the mobility for manuver warfare ( Blitzkrieg) though some flashes can be seen with certain battles. Understanding a concept and being able to execute it are two different things.

    Dan,

    Ok – in absolute terms, 2nd Generation militaries see the answer in delivering greater amounts of force on target – ” free fire zones” in Vietnam, firebombing raids on Dresden, the German attack on Verdun to ” bleed France white”.

    3rd Generation militaries attempt to deliver force faster but to fewer and more important targets ( the rear of the enemy, choke points) to trigger a systemic collapse.

    A sledgehammer vs. a rapier.

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