Capturing My Thoughts: XGW, Coming Anarchy, Boyd, and Categories of Conflict

CA states:

These categories provided the basis for Lind’s later work on 4GW. The
advantage to Boyd’s categories is the ahistorical aspect — there is no
chain of causality.

Here are the categories:

  • Attrition Warfare
    — as practiced by the Emperor Napoleon, by all sides during the 19th
    century and during World War I, by the Allies during World War II, and
    by present-day nuclear planners.
  • Maneuver Conflict
    — as practiced by the Mongols, General Bonaparte, Confederate General
    Stonewall Jackson, Union General Ulysses S. Grant, Hitler’s
    Generals…and the Americans under Generals Patton and MacArthur.
  • Moral Conflict
    — as practiced by the Mongols, most Guerrilla Leaders, a very few
    Counter-Guerrillas…and certain others from Sun Tzu to the present.

My response:

Boyd is a good starting point, but it is not sufficient.

Where does genocide warfare (aka primal warfare) fit in? It doesn’t in Boyd (or in Lind’s GMW). It has a place in XGW.

Boyd’s Moral warfare is a subset of Lind’s GMS’s 4GW. There is not hint of the tools available in XGW’s 4GW in Boyd or Lind. Check out Unrestricted Warfare for an idea of the possible scope (perhaps though Unrestricted Warfare should be consider something separate from 4GW).

Also, in Boyd there is no place for 5GW aka Secret War aka Invisible Warfare.

Note: I prefer the terms “categories” or “modes” to “grades”. I prefer all three to “generations”.

It might be a good idea to not just refer to 1GW, 2GW, etc. Instead, the first time a category of XGW is mentioned in a post, it should be as: 3GW aka Maneuver Warfare or as 3GW (Maneuver Warfare), or something like that.

7 Responses

  1. […] notes on me and 5GW, Purpleslog’s Thoughts on Boyd and XGW, and Mark’s reccomendation on Shane and 4GW. « Obama Flip-Flops Toward […]

  2. “Also, in Boyd there is no place for 5GW aka Secret War aka Invisible Warfare.”

    I am going to disagee with you. It is true that 5GW doesn’t fit well into his three kinds of conflict, however, when you get to his work on strategy he becomes much more 5GWish.

    I’m thinking specifically of The Art of Success and Boyd has two.

    I don’t have Osinga’s book in front of me for a page number but I do have a note that says it is Box 6.5 that has both definitions. To me the first is proto-5GWish but the second is very 5GW.

  3. Ar, I will follow-up on that.

  4. Ar…very good catch!

    From Boy’d PoC –

    The art of success

    •Appear to be an unsolvable cryptogram while operating in a directed way to penetrate adversary vulnerabilities and weaknesses in order to isolate him from his allies, pull him apart, and collapse his will to resist.


    •Shape or influence events so that we not only magnify our spirit and strength but also influence potential adversaries as well as the uncommitted so that they are drawn toward our philosophy and are empathetic toward our success.

  5. Yep, good catch Arherring!

  6. I think that is the first of the two. My favorite part of it is that it emphasizes a dual focus on both sides of a conflict.

  7. I will try to find the other.

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