Call for introductory paragraphs: “5GW: The Fifth Generation of War?”

The call for chapters came out three weeks ago, the provisional contributors was announced two weeks ago, and a request for chapter titles came out last week.

The response has been overwhelming.

5GW: The Fifth Generation of War? will be an edited volume of perspectives on “5GW,” one of the most controversial subjects in defense and security studies. 5GW: The Fifth Generation of War? will be published by Nimble Books, which is currently overseeing the release of the “Age of Obama” series of works associated with the inauguration of our 44th President. 5GW: The Fifth Generation of War? should be on sale by June.

The provisional contributor list, along with provisional titles, is as follows:

  • Aherring: Why do we need 5GW?
  • David Axe: 5GW in Africa
  • Adam Elkus: Killing 5GW in Order to Save It: Reinterpreting 5GW Theory
  • Joseph Fouche: Is 5GW the End of the Rainbow?
  • Brent Grace: Reshaping the Battlspace: Using 5GW to Combat Urban Gangs
  • Lexington Green: 5GW: A Value-Destroying Formulation of Contemporary and Future Problems
  • Jay, of Soob
  • Samuel Liles: Cyber warfare to cyber terrain
  • Dan McIntosh: Transhumanist Politics and 5GW / How does 5GW differ from normal politics?
  • Stephen Pampinella: 5GW and Social Constructivism: Contemporary War as Identity Manipulation
  • Purpleslog: Patterns of 5GW
  • Mark Safranski, of Zenpundit
  • Seerov: Spatial Considerations of 5GW
  • Joe Sherrer: Generalizing Generational Warfare
  • Francis Younghusband, of Coming Anarchy

As editor, I am now calling on all those interested in writing a chapter for the edited volume, 5GW: The Fifth Generation of War, to submit a first or introductory paragraph. This one-paragraph-long introduction is provisional. It should serve to organize thoughts, and provide a dramatic or logical (or both) preview for the full chapter.

Here is the first paragraph for my chapter, “5GW: The Fifth Gradient of War”:

We control and improve war. We do this by making war more psychological, burrowing into your enemy’s mind and depriving him of a foe he can see. We do this by making more war peaceful, moving from killing tens of thousands in battle to one or two in war. We do this by defining what we mean by ‘enemy,’ no longer ‘he who wishes us harm’ but ‘he who does not care that we exist.’ We do this by fighting for our enemy, so that he can live, he can rule, he can fight, and he can believe in terms that he does not realize have been dictated by us.

Please post your first paragraphs below as a comment, or else email them to me, at

9 thoughts on “Call for introductory paragraphs: “5GW: The Fifth Generation of War?””

  1. “We do this by fighting for our enemy, so that he can live, he can rule, he can fight, and he can believe in terms that he does not realize have been dictated by us.”

    — comes from a perspective too often absent in discussions of 5GW. Perhaps worded a little too dramatically…”fighting for” isn’t really what’s happening unless it’s a “kinder, gentler” form of 5GW [1] or else a form conducted against (for) one’s own nation or tribe etc. Also, as summarized at that link, I believe that, as you say, “we do this…”, but that we might often do it because we have no alternative against 4GW-type forces. The wording then might be misleading: certainly dramatic, an attention grabber; but I generally dislike using hyperbole that turns out false or needing later corruption/tweaking to become true, merely for grabbing attention.

    But then, I haven’t read the whole chapter yet, have I?


  2. “The greatest trick the devil pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”

    -Verbal Kent, The Usual Suspects

    In the mid 1990s both the city of Chicago and the Federal authorities were ready to rid themselves of the violent insurgent group known as the Black Kings who effectively ruled the Robert Taylor public housing project. The BKs had managed to so embed themselves within the political/economic environment that the only way to defeat them would be to completely change the environment around them. This would involve the use of highly focused kinetics in the form of selective prosecution of gang leaders as well as random “sweeps” of known gang hang outs. All the while a coalition of federal, state and local authorities working with private businesses and charities would drastically alter the battle-space within which the Black Kings operated. They altered the physical landscape of the Robert Taylor projects by empowering private sector real estate developers to build single-family homes. And they altered the human terrain within which the BKs had been able to operate so effectively by empowering both public sector agencies and philanthropic enterprises to assist with the relocation of the former residents. When the 5GW COIN cycle was complete the once powerful insurgent group would find themselves unable to orient themselves to the new reality and is today marginalized.

  3. * Revised paragraph, please erase the above paragraph.

    Warfare is conducted on, and over space. With the rise of 5GW, war will still be fought in and over space, but the types of spaces and reasons for doing so will evolve. The major geopolitical cause for this shift in war-space is the decline of the nation-state system. In fact, 5GW and the Westphalian system have an inverse relationship. The decline of the State and the rise new technologies will not only change how war is fought in space, but more significantly, will cause the expansion of the war-space as a whole. Where 1GW featured armies meeting on predetermined battlefields similar to sporting events, 5GW will change the “game” entirely, and spread the war-space to potentially every corner of the earth. Survival and success in 5GW will depend greatly on how individuals perceive the spaces they inhabit, along with how they perceive the people who share these spaces with them.

  4. Pingback: War Is Boring
  5. Thanks to Dan for adding me. Here’s an intro/abstract:

    This chapter attempts to place Fifth Generation War (5GW) in the context of International Relations (IR) theory and contemporary warfare. If 5GW is understood to be a form of warfare whereby adversaries’ perceptions of the operational environment and their identities are to be manipulated, then the emerging paradigm of IR Constructivism provides the conceptual mechanics whereby perceptions are both constructed and deconstructed. Since social constructivism provides the ‘how’ of 5GW, we can then apply this paradigm to develop an idealized model of counterinsurgency (COIN) and state the strategic objective of COIN operations in the terminology of 5GW. Finally, I address one significant criticism of this constructivist interpretation of 5GW and its application to counterinsurgency that focuses on its apparent similarity to 4GW, if understood as a strategic model of insurgency. In making this argument, I will rely on theories of 4GW advocated by Lind and T.X. Hammes, the contributors to Dreaming 5GW, Wendt’s defining theoretical statement regarding IR constructivism, and recent doctrinal innovations on the part of counterinsurgency theorists and practitioners.

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