Mutually Exclusive Paths to Fifth Generation Warfare (5GW) Success

I have been working up a Fifth Generation Warfare (5GW) [1] scenario in response to a question by Seerov on Dreaming 5GW.

As a side effect, I have come to have to see that regardless of which combination of 5GW style [2] and of which 5GW kind [3] is used, that I think there are two main paths to success that a 5GWer [3.5] will take.

These paths are exclusive and imply a set of different decisions made to the design of the 5GW.

A 5GWer will either take the path of Frog Boiling [4] or the path of Black Swan Hatching [5].

Please excuse me for the cutesy names, but it helps me to remember them and to visualize them.

A Frog Boiling 5GW aims to make many small effects which lead to success. The planning will be iterative [6] and future actions will depend on lessons learned from the results achieved from the prior actions. By going slow, using many small actions, and relying upon N-order effects, the Frog Boiling 5GW hopes to get a successful end result without exposure to adversarial forces or without other perhaps even knowing a 5GW has taken place.

A Black Swan Hatching 5GW is designed using the waterfall method [7] to effect a Black Swan event [8] (or at least a major Systems Perturbation). This 5GW achieves its goals from either the Black Swan event itself or from reactions to the Black Swan event [9]. Secrecy is achieved by the tight knit, closed, top-down model of planning and control. The hope is that even if the 5GW effort is discovered, it will be after it is too late[10].

I think that all 5GWs will take one path or the other, but not both.

There is a way for a Frog Boiling 5GW to make use of a Black Swan event. I am saving that for the next post.

What do you all think? Comments, questions, corrections, additions, modifications, and disagreements are all welcome.

[Cross-published to Dreaming 5GW]


[1] Purpleslog’s 5GW definition:

5GW is the secret deliberative manipulation of actors, networks, institutions, states or any 0GW/1GW/2GW/3GW/4GW forces to achieve a goal or set of goals across a combination of socio, economic, and political domains while attempting to avoid or minimize the retaliatory offensive or defensive actions/reactions of 0GW/1GW/2GW/3GW/4GW powered actors, networks, institutions, and/or states.

[2] Styles of 5GW (actual 5GWs can overlap styles to some extent)

Puppet Master 5GW Style
Socio-Political Entrepreneur 5GW Style
Strategic Citizen 5GW Style
Memetic Engineering 5GW Style
CGW’s Loving Co-Option 5GW Style (and here)

[3] TDAXP’s Kinds of 5GW:

– The insurgent 5GW (the classical formulation)
– The state-within 5GW (where a clique inside the host society attempts to transform the host society)
– The state-without 5GW (where an operational arm of a government attacks a different society)


[4] Purpleslog: Boiling the Frog:

Effective 5GW against a state or organization will consists of lots of little operations by the small 5GW actor effecting the larger target actor in such small ways they don’t notice until there is nothing they can do to counter the outcome.

…and … Wikipedia:

The boiling frog story states that a frog can be boiled alive if the water is heated slowly enough — it is said that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will never jump out.

The story is generally told in a figurative context, with the upshot being that people should make themselves aware of gradual change lest they suffer a catastrophic loss.

[5] Arherring’s Nuts and Bolts:

In short a Black Swan is an event that invalidates a system. By definition it is something that you are unprepared for. Black Swan 5GW is used to invalidate systems and rule-sets. Ideally to my mind, the 5GW organization would be able to replace the invalidated system with a new system that achieves its objective, but there may be other reasons for invalidating a system or rule-set. Perhaps a competing rule-set offers better opportunity for 5GW manipulation or perhaps the situation is such that an existing system or rule-set is an impediment to a desirable though painful improvement. Potentially a 5GW organization may prepare for Gray Swans, events that are possible though unpredictable and/or unlikely, yet present opportunity to establish a new system. An example of this might include some sort of natural disaster.

[6] Iterative 5GW thoughts: here, here, here, and here.

[7] Sea of conspiracy:

A 5GW operation will create conditions and contingencies to avoid detection by hiding among the crazies. I can see where parts of an operation might purposely be exposed and then linked with false information and crazy theories to discourage real investigation. All of this is aimed at the observation part of the OODA loop of the opponent.

[8] Waterfall model: here and here.

[9] Black Swan Event


An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult to predict. This term was popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a finance professor and former Wall Street trader. Black swan events are typically random and unexpected


What of the cultural or national shock of the sudden and unexpected? Certainly giving the cultural framework that entails a nation a good solid shake will toss the useless glitterati that is Paris Hilton aside and invite a national conscience to actually focus? What of the unexpected left hook that sends all of our pre-concieved notions flailing to the mat and ready for the ten (or even twenty) count? What of the Black Swan? Or, to simply define, the aforementioned left hook that nobody sees coming that rings our bell, sends our government into political turmoil and penetrates the perversely sheep like blind covenant that entwines the American people and popular culture and actually focuses national attention on a common cause. And then, and here’s some villany for you, builds and manifests itself upon this new collective.

Ah, the Black Swan, that which shakes nations, because a national conscience typically relies on the past and the present for a comfortable pillow of reference and definition of what can or could or will be and refuses to see that uncertainty is as much a certainty as anything we claim to “predict” or “know.”


Black Swans strike at the critical vulnerability for which there is no defense because we are not even aware we are vulnerable.
So, what exactly is a Black Swan event?

“First, it is a outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.”


Update: Corrected some typos.


2 Responses

  1. Nice simplistic examples with scientific models. Good job on the page and descriptions.

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