Capturing My Thoughts: State 4GW [Updates and Corrections]

I posted this as a comment on Zenpundit (and then copied it to D5GW):

States can fight 4GW.

The theory must move beyond Lind. I think Lind considers 4GW as something done by non-state actors against states.

4GW should be thought of as a conflict mode where two main things standout: 1) the full spectrum of weapons used includes things not generally thought of as weapons and 2) A shift from the importance of the physical dimension of war to the that of the moral and mental (the physical, and the strategic/operational/tactical still matter but they can be trumped by the moral/mental) and [update] maybe the emergence of the institutional dimension.

What people normally call 4GW is information warfare using terrorism, guerrilla tactics, and especially psyops and media operations by non-state actors who are fighting primarily against a state opponent. This is what most articles and blogposts are about. So is Hammes’s excellent book.

There is no handbook for 4GW by state actors. Yet.

I have been meaning to make this a post for awhile, butI am a procrastinator, so I will type in my thoughts here (maybe I will post a copy at my site so I don’t forget).

Those planning for future State 4GW efforts should look to a few things for conflict against other states and/or against non-state actors:

1) The PLA book “Unrestricted Warfare” is a source. It shows glimpses as to what full spectrum weoponization could be. Has anything like this come out of the US National Security establishment of academia?

2) States must re-gain or acquire capabilities in information warfare/propaganda/media operations. Look to to get an idea. Sometimes this is called political warfare . Look to the book fighting the War of Ideas like a Real War by J. Michael Waller for ideas (or for a historical perspective The Secret History of PWE: The Political Warfare Executive by David Garnett).

3) States needs to prepare their citizens, institutions, and rule-sets for fighting 4GW. War is not WW2 or Vietnam redux. States will need the flexibility to utilize netwar organization of a perm or ad-hoc nature in conflict and to not be revolted at information operations.

Updated: I modified the above text to remove a few typos and to include a reference to the institutional dimension (my idea).

One Response

  1. The more I read about xGW and global guerrillas and super empowered individuals the more I despair that MY Westphalian nation-state will survive as a constitutional representative republic. Tyrannies can make things happen quickly, but governments who depend upon the consent of the governed must debate, cuss, discuss, filibuster, veto and generally dick around while the Bad Guys run rings around us. It takes too long to achieve consensus. For ideological reasons, many in MY nation-state’s power structure oppose any efforts to upgrade capabilities in information warfare/propaganda/media operations. The first targets for such will have to be my fellow citizens in order to convince them that our nation-state is worthy of survival in its current form.

    IF there is a solution, it may lie in the ACTIONS of empowered individuals and groups who have already achieved consensus and are collaborating on a common course of action while politicians and “activists” yammer.

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