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Strategic Citizen / Strategic Citizen 5GW Style – Links, References, and Inspirations

Stay tuned for “Of the People, By The People: The Strategic Citizen 5GW Style”. Update: I have published it.

Links, References, and Inspirations:


Our free societies are comprised of government and civil society. The moral level is something that is better handled by the civil society component. We recognize the importance of the “strategic corporal”, well in civil society we need to recognize the role of the “strategic citizen”. In the kind of war we are now fighting ordinary citizens can have a strategic impact. In free societies it is the government’s job to guarantee freedom of speech. It is not authorized to pick and choose among the variety of speech its citizens choose to engage in. Rather, it is the role of the citizen to step up to the plate and compete.
So what will it take for citizens to become “strategic citizens”? To recognize their potential and to have the will and drive to act? The war on the moral level is a citizen responsibility. How do we wage that war?


The logical conclusion of al-Suri’s plan combines the anonymity of “Lone Wolf” terrorism with the ideological cohesion of network war. Cells would employ a shared tactical and ideological template, but act entirely alone. It would not be a network as much of a group of individuals waging separate wars with only an ideological link.


Usually, the “lone-wolf” terrorist shares an ideological or philosophical identification with an extremist group, but does not communicate with the group he or she identifies with. While the “lone wolf’s” actions are motivated to advance the group’s goal, the tactics and methods are completely conceived and directed by the “lone wolf” without any outside command or direction. In many cases, as in the tactic as envisioned by Curtis, the “lone wolf” never even has any personal contact with a larger group.


The Strategic Corporal is the notion that leadership in complex, rapidly evolving mission environments devolves lower and lower down the chain of command to better exploit time-critical information into the decision making process, ultimately landing on the corporal, the lowest ranking non-commissioned officer, typically commanding a squad of 12-15 Marines

Army of Davids by Glen Reynolds

http://www.shloky.com/?p=625 – “Lone Tech Targets California Power Grid”


My solution to this problem is what I call the “strategic citizen.” The advances in communication technology that we are all familiar with have made it possible for ordinary citizens to have a strategic impact in the realm of information war (or media war or meme war or whatever we want to call it). We private citizens have the power to wage the kind of information operations that Former Spook advocates. Radical Muslims have already figured this out and are way ahead of us.


In our Army of Davids, Free Agent Nation, Smart Mobs era, the citizen today doesn’t have to wait to be called to service by some politician. Citizens can choose on their own to act in what they believe is in the best interests of the country: citizen self-mobilization.


I have been arguing and will continue to argue that the solution to our information operation troubles will not come from government, but from private citizens and the organizations they create to wage the media war/information war. We continue to look at the jihadi’s “decentralized, collaborative production model” as they run rings around us, and respond with “we need to get government to do better info ops.” That’s the wrong answer. Too many people in the West are trapped in an outdated, 20th century paradigm, while our adversaries recognize and successfully exploit the vast opportunities the 21st century offers. We will win this information war when westerners decide that they are going to take the initiative and run their own media campaigns independent of government.


On September 3, 2004, a nine-member officer’s panel at Fort Lewis, Washington, found Specialist Ryan G. Anderson guilty of five counts of seeking to aid the enemy during a time of war and attempted espionage. The court martial subsequently sentenced him to five concurrent life terms for his crimes. To date, the sentence represents the most severe penalty meted out to a U.S. citizen in President George W. Bush’s global war on terror. The case also marked the triumph of the new field of cyber counterterrorism, which I helped develop. Working from my home computer, I enabled Anderson’s capture. There have since been more than 200 other cases although many of these were intelligence cases that, for various reasons, did not result in criminal prosecution.
Early in January 2002, I began taking an Arabic language course online for eight weeks from the Cairo-based Arab Academy,[2] which, that autumn, I supplemented with an intensive Arabic course at the State University of New York at Buffalo. As I learned more Arabic, the jihadi websites opened for me. Certain individuals stood out for either their radicalism or the information that they sent. I followed and tracked these individuals and kept notebooks detailing each website and person of interest.


The development of SEI’s will likely be the defining characteristic of 5GW. Each SEI is thinking, and collective thinking is done so far as it has been shown in emergent systems.


If there is nothing uniting the actors…then they are not united. There are separate. If the actors are separate and not united in any way…then in aggregate it is wrong to consider them a 5GW force.

I really think lumping non-united actors together, looking for patterns, and calling it 5GW is a dead-end for 5GW theory.

5GW actors can certainly be united/synchronized/loosely-coupled by ideology/memes/purpose though of nothing else. There ability to give feedback to one another would be very limited and that would reduce their effectiveness would think depending upon what they are trying to do.


Or could a 5GW opponent be “commanded” simply through the naturally emergent behavior of complex systems? Is “self-synchronization” valid as a method of C^2 for a 5GW campaign? And is the notion of a “campaign” even relevant in this context? Or is our lexicon lacking in describing emergent methods of influencing thought — and, by extension, limiting our actions to those that a faceless adversary allows?


To a paraphrase Karl Marx, a specter is haunting general staffs, intelligence agencies and statesmen the world over, the coming of the superempowered individual. No one quite knows what form the superempowered individual will take, but the devolution of increasingly powerful and versatile technologies at continually descending costs into the hands of individuals, coupled with the increasing interdependency of complex systems due to globalization, make their arrival all but inevitable.
To qualify as a superempowered individual, the actor must be able to initiate a destructive event, fundamentally with their own resources, that cascades systemically on a national, regional or global scale. They must be able to credibly, “declare war on the world”. Who could or would desire to do such a thing?
In terms of defense against superempowered individuals, the best option is engineering resilience and redundancy into all our critical systems and platforms, physical as well as social and political. We must with determination, lower our societal vulnerability to catastrophic attack so that back-up systems and third order contingencies ” short-circuit” the attack of a superempowered individual on our power, economic, communication and governmental networks

http://blogs.brisbanetimes.com.au/bluntinstrument/archives/2007/08/citizen_initiat.html – “In order to get anything done, it may be time for the citizenry to take things into our own hands”


Just plain folks can have more influence than was ever possible before. With sufficient motivation, imagination, and effort, just plain folks can become Strategic Citizens and come to the defense of the Strategic Corporals dissed by Democrats.


But superdistribution is something I’ve become obsessed with. Superdistribution means turning every consumer into a distribution partner. Every person who buys a record, a movie, reads a newspaper, a book, every person who buys a Sonos or a Vespa becomes a retailer of that item. It’s word of mouth marketing, referral marketing, but with one important difference. The consumer is the retailer.


Hopefully we will soon reach a tipping point and we will see the spontaneous emergence of many small groups dedicated to waging the war of ideas, perceptions, interpretations and narratives, because this is what it is going to take to win.


What we are seeing are individuals super-empowered by technology pulling together (with gains from network effects) for causes (with or without state assistance) that are political or non-political. These might be for the benefit of a state even if not requested by the state. There is 4GW and 5GW in this.



It’s good to see the citizen self-mobilization meme continuing to spread…


3 Responses

  1. What can we synergize from all this collective wisdom?

    So what will it take for citizens to become “strategic citizens”? A life-changing event that will motivate the survivors to take the duties of citizenship seriously. Or perhaps loyalty to a decadent Westphalian nation-state that can no longer reward loyalty will become an old-fashioned tradition amongst the descendants of patriots and the definition of citizenship will change radically.

    I’m an American Exceptionalist. I want MY Westphalian nation-state to be the last one standing, at least until my grandchildren are my age, but it can’t last forever. How long can the tide be held back?

  2. Can, these are good questions and I am share you view I like the American nation-state. I like the state system. I will address this a bit more over the next week.

    Here is an older post I made on the subject:

  3. […] Irregular Information Operators, Super-Empowered Individuals and Strategic Citizens are […]

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