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  • Quote of the Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on May 18th, 2008 (All posts by )

    I’m not sure I necessarily buy into the 5GW frameworks yet. Trying to nail 4GW Jell-O to the wall is hard enough. 5GW is like nailing said Jell-O while it’s still liquid.

    Smitten Eagle, commenting on Zenpundit.

    (I heartily concur.)

     

    8 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

    1. zenpundit Says:

      Smitten Eagle was a great add for CB.

      The case for 4GW as a taxonomy through which to view armed conflict, with an emphasis on the political, psychological and moral dimensions of warfare, with some predictive utility as a strategic theory, is pretty sound. If nothing else, the 4GW school broke down the artificial compartmentalization of war as pure kinetics, tactics and logistics, that dominated American military thinking.

      The case for 4GW as the universal theory of the history of warfare is not convincing.

    2. Lexington Green Says:

      “If nothing else, the 4GW school broke down the artificial compartmentalization of war as pure kinetics, tactics and logistics, that dominated American military thinking.”

      Maybe so.

      But the military should have never thought that way if they’d read their own guru, Clausewitz, let alone his rising peer competitor, Sun Tzu.

      I get concerned when the discussion turns into taxonomic arcana rather than clear, plain English descriptions of tangible phenomena, followed by analysis and groupings and labelling based on observation. XGW, I fear, as a framework, is not a good pre-filtering mechanism.

      I need time I don’t have to write a meaty (and constructive) critique of the XGW framework.

    3. Dan tdaxp Says:

      (Cross-posted on Chicago Boyz and ZenPundit)

      I began a reply, but as I wrote it I realized I have no idea what Smitten Eagle is talking about. Who is he criticizing? What text, what person? Or is he merely complaining he doesn’t know enough about it to criticize it?

      If he is criticizing some person or text, should say what it is and give his reasons. If he is criticizing his own lack of understanding, he should learn more!

    4. Smitten Eagle Says:

      (Crossposted at Zenpundit and ChicagoBoyz)

      Dan tdaxp-

      I was criticizing Seerov’s previous post.

      I am actually an advocate of the 4GW school, although I have some complaints:

      1) I think the xGW framework is over dialectal.
      2) I think the entire xGW framework is a bit too deterministic, which leads into…
      3) A certain intellectual hubris on the part of many 4GW theorists (this is self-evident).

      At the same time, I think the xGW frameworks through 4GW are reasonably correct, to include the 4GW premises of the decline of the state and the state’s consequent loss of the monopoly of force. The 1GW-3GW frameworks are even more reliable in terms of their theoretical consistency with reality. 4GW is especially useful to describe how 3GW maneuver forces lose against poorly-equipped insurgencies and other militias.

      As far as 5GW goes, I don’t think there is even a solid framework to rely on. Some have referred to 5GW as tactically being about changing the enemie’s Observation in the OODA loop to make him think he’s not even in conflict with the enemy. For me, this is too close to the political end of the Policy-War continuum of violence to be considered warfare.

      To build on this, Seerov, in the post on Zen’s site that I comment on, says that pro-illegal immigration organizations, and thir actions with regard to the law (attempts to classify anti-illegal immigration forces as “xenophobic” and “racist”) should be viewed as 5GW. Why is this? My complaints with this contention are that such strategies and tactics are too strongly in the realm of Policy–so much so that there really isn’t a violent component. How can this be classified as a different Generation of War? My second complaint is the mere existence of such pro-illegal immigration groups as La Raza are testament to being 4GW, as such groups are indicative of the decline of the state. My final complaint is that another aspect of 4GW is fighting on the Moral level of war in order to defeat Mental and Physical levels, and La Raza’s actions at this are indicative of this Moral fight.

      Others have spoken about the role of the Super Empowered Individual (SEI) as a major actor in 5GW. I’m afraid that lone gunmen, in my conception of warfare, do not qualify as “organized violence.” For violence to be “organized,” it requires an Organization. An Organization of One is not an organization. I think there has to be more to organized violence than a single pissed-off dude with lots of cunning.

      Finally, for 5GW to actually exist, it needs to have a strong track record of convincingly beating 4GW fighting forces. I’m afraid there really hasn’t been any evidence to support this. (Unless, of course, my denial of 5GW is evidence of it’s success…but if that’s the case, I think we’re getting a bit too close to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle to speak anything authoritatively about 5GW, or any xGW for that matter.)

      I don’t qualify a Barnett-esque SysAdmin as a 5GW force–such a force would probably be a 4GW force, as it seems to me to be fighting in the same moral-mental-physical plane of the 4GW forces it opposes. Also, such a SysAdmin force would not be placing strength against 4GW weakness the way 3GW put strength of Maneuver against weakness of Massed Firepower of 2GW weakness. (It seems to me that for a new GW to exist, there must be an aspect of strength-against-weakness against the previous GW) A SysAdmin force places its 4GW strengths (mainly in the moral level) against enemy 4GW strength (again, in the moral level). What level does a 5GW force fight? Legal? In Freud’s Subconscious? Where?

      Nor am I really convinced that a SysAdmin, as Barnett concieves it, could even exist, because it does not deal with the root cause of the 4GW violence: the entropy of the state system. Sure, it might slow the entropy of a given state, but it’s mere existence only saps the legitimacy of the foreign state it’s trying to help. (Lind calls this the Reverse Midas Touch). For a SysAdmin to work, I think it would have to be home-grown–but then again, we have a word for that: A Militia. And there is significant scholarship on the potential utility of militia forces in 4GW fights.

      In short, 4GW is tough to deal with, but workable, mainly as a conceptual frame to describe the weakness of Maneuverist 3GW forces against some types of insurgencies, under the rubric of the decline of the state.

      5GW so far is formless and has too fungible of a definition for me to take it seriously, not to mention that 5GW doesn’t seem to deal with the decline & demise of the state. Nor am I convinced that nonviolent political questions qualify as ANY xGW. Nor am I convinced that an SEI qualifies as ANY sort of organized violence.

      I’m not even convinced there even HAS to be a 5GW. Just because there was a 1-4GW doesn’t mean we must at some point progress to 5GW. For all I know, some great technology or political order will be invented tomorrow that will restore legitimacy to the state, and perhaps then we will be in a sort military-political order where 3GW principles better predict the outcome of political-military struggles.

      That is why nailing 4GW Jell-O is difficult, and nailing 5GW Jell-O to a wall is just like nailing any other sugary liquid to the wall.

    5. Arherring Says:

      Smitten Eagle,

      Sorry but I have to make some distinctions here that I think are confusing the issue.

      1) There is a difference between Lind’s Generations of Modern Warfare and XGW (as discussed at Dreaming 5GW). XGW is derived from GMW but doesn’t include the concept of the timeline or social/industrial/political development defining a particular generation of warfare. As such it has nothing to do with any particular era or the rise and decline of the state. Instead it focuses on the principles and methods of the different generations. Honestly, the term ‘generation’ in XGW should be replaced.

      2) Because XGW deals in principles and methods it can be applied to any type of conflict including economic and political, not just war. For that matter 5GW as we envision it at D5GW could be used in a proactive manner to avert conflict. On that note the term ‘warfare’ should probably be replaced. XGW has become that much of a different concept.

      I agree with you that and organization of one is not an oranization and that SEIs shouldn’t be what defines 5GW or any level of XGW. 5GW is a potential doctrine for an SEI to practice but that is as far as it goes. There are many options for a (Friedman defined) super-empowered individual or a Super-Empowered Angry Man to follow. I’d also like to point out that we are dealing with a theory of 5GW. We aren’t saying that 5GW exists in any form other than the proto-5GWish and even then in isolated aspects.

    6. A. Scott Crawford Says:

      Arherring… I think you should revisit some of the articles/entries on D-N-I.net, as there’s a number of essay’s related to the concept of ‘conflict’/warfare against one’s opponents general ability, desire, means, etc. to engage in conflict. (I’m sorry I can’t provide links… I’m not on the machine I keep that material on). The basic gist is that there are conventional and unconventional means to engage any of ones various XGW enemies short of direct conflict… including information/media operations against grassroots material support, operations against a 3GW or State opponents political/decision making component, &etc. And if there’s a non-military area the old Cold Warriors are familiar with it’s the economic (socio-economic) sphere of conflict… (the concept isn’t strictly “warfare”… it’s ‘conflict’ theory).

      Although personally I would agree that there’s usually too much rigidity in academic and military academy strategic thinking (i.e. wonkery), it’s my suspicion that this 5GW versus 4GW is at it’s most basic an attempt to move beyond examination of 4GW actors/forces/units as usually considered (“4GW players are ‘bad'”) in order to hypothesize about units that could effectively oppose or combat them (“5GW players MIGHT be good”). Maybe this is generous, but most of the depictions of “5GW type threats” sound just like 4GW actors to me (i.e. a super empowered individual is typically behind 4GW types of ideological groups… be they preachers, great guerilla bandit kings, sea pirates, Saints or super hackers). All the descriptions I’ve read of 5GW units, be they SEI’s or super-villains or terrorists or whathaveyou, all seem to exist on the same operational/functional level (extra- or supra-legal) as 4GW actors/units, except the 5GW elements all seem to have day jobs and motgages! lol (Sysadmins’ are wussies!). Maybe it’d be more accurate to think of “fifth generation warfare” as “fourth generation warfare deluxe!”.

      In this sense 5GW entities and tactics are sort of like Cold War third world dictatorships… “yeah, they’re 4GW psychos… but they’re OUR 4GW psychos”. For the most part, we’re really still discussing 4GW, as feral, semi-tame black-ops groups and/or evil geniuses aren’t really a new strategic paradigm. heh. I’ll check back in the next week or two and provide links to the above papers from DNI or one of the various associated blogs or institutes.

      Best,

      A. Scott Crawford

    7. Dan tdaxp Says:

      Smitten Eagle’s reply is well written and well considered. I have featured it in my most recent post on 5GW. [1]

      “xGW is composed of six so-called “generations,” each of which has existed back into the distant path, and all of which will likely exist into the distant future. The term “generation” is unfortunate, and comes from William Lind’s older “generations of war” framework, which is a form of Hegelian dialecticalism that is to the analysis of war what Lamarckianism is to the analysis of natural selection. xGW has recently been the topic of conversation in the blogosphere.”

      [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/05/21/5gw-xgw-around-the-blogosphere.htmla

    8. Arherring Says:

      “Maybe this is generous, but most of the depictions of “5GW type threats” sound just like 4GW actors to me (i.e. a super empowered individual is typically behind 4GW types of ideological groups… be they preachers, great guerilla bandit kings, sea pirates, Saints or super hackers). All the descriptions I’ve read of 5GW units, be they SEI’s or super-villains or terrorists or whathaveyou, all seem to exist on the same operational/functional level (extra- or supra-legal) as 4GW actors/units, except the 5GW elements all seem to have day jobs and motgages! lol (Sysadmins’ are wussies!). Maybe it’d be more accurate to think of “fifth generation warfare” as “fourth generation warfare deluxe!”.”

      This is exactly the point I am trying to make. Many of the theorists who are getting XGW and 5GW wrong are describing what is essentially an evolved 4GW (from Lind’s Geneations of Modern Warfare framework) and confusing XGW with GMW. Lind’s framework has no place for a fifth generation and I don’t dispute that. 5GW is an aspect of XGW, a framework that grew out of GMW and still carries some of the characteristics and terminology of GMW, but isn’t GMW.