Curtis supplied a subject-rich list of xGWish future post ideas…

here in “A Test for xGW Theorists“:

A test for xGW theorists who do not believe in a linear emergence, or a dialectical relationship for the G’s:

A more detailed, in-depth, account of 1GW-4GW, each, with descriptions of tactics, strategies, societies behind them or required for them, mind-sets/paradigms, etc., more fully developed for those.

There has been a great rush to 5GW theory, with only 4GW somewhat as developed (but alas taken for granted as an exact “type” as described by pre-xGW theorists; namely, as described by GMW theorists and uninformed pundits citing GMW theorists), and hardly as much thought given to 1-3GW, or even to 4GW.

There is contradiction also.

For instance, the belief held by most xGW theorists that the development of 5GW as something “our side” (whatever that might be) should develop in response to 4GW, in order to defeat 4GW forces, itself suggests a linearity and dialectical relationship.

The belief that each x+1 should easily be able to defeat x — assuming a fully developed x+1 — also suggests a dialectical and linear development to the xGW structure.  (Whereas also, too little attention is ever given to the ability of an x to defeat a poorly executed x+1 strategy.  Or, for that matter, the ability of an x-1 to defeat a poorly executed x+1….)

Also:  if 1-5GW are currently co-existing potential strategies, and always have been — or co-existing sets of tactics, as some have described the xGW framework — no explanation is developed for why certain strategies or tactical decisions are given preferential treatment, either a) by xGW theorists focusing almost entirely on only 4GW-5GW and relegating pre-4GW modes to the past in their examples and future scenarios, or b) by actual practitioners now engaged in conflict, or indeed c) by past practitioners now long dead.

I hope he doesn’t mind me quote the entire thing (if so, let me know). The bolding is mine, for future posts.

I have been working on a 4GW post. Maybe I will work backwards from there. Also, I have a collection of “hard” questions (generally against the 5GW concept), that I am going to attempt to work through.

5GW Operation Notes: Who What Where When Why How

Here some notes to help me clarify my own thinking. The notes may be useful to others as well.

As always, I appreciate any comments, questions, corrections, additions…feedback of any sort.


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.

I also like these succint definitions:

5GW as “War of hidden movements” [TDAXP]

5GW as “a school of strategic thought focused on the indirect and surreptitious application of influence” [Joseph Fouche]

5GW is merely the preemption of war and politics by whatever means [CGW]

Fifth gradient doctrines are based upon the principle of manipulation of the context of the observations of an opponent in order to achieve a specific effect. [Arherring]






  • To achieve or increase the probability of achieving a goal against (or for) an otherwise unwilling target [Example Link]
  • To wage war with inferior power or resources compared to the target
  • To avoid counter-activity by the target (aka increased 5GWer survivability)
  • “…an outcome which is lasting, i.e. a strong and resilient system, and this would also require that those living within any newly created or newly modified system consciously or unconsciously continue to maintain that system — rather than consciously or unconsciously form groups to bring it down.” [Source: CGW]
  • Love?


4GW and 5GW move beyond traditional weapons. It is about the importance of the non-kinetic (aka dispersed kinetics)

5GW is dispersed kinetics to a greater degree and manipulation of things (e.g. SBNs, KBNs, SEIs, PDNs, MBNs) to achieve result desired by the 5GW actors. The weaponization of things not thought to be weapons leaves the opponent who is fixed on attacking/defending what are obvious weapons distracted/confused/unprepared and even unaware about the action taking place against them. [Source]


  • SecretWar
  • HiddenWar
  • StealthWar
  • OtherWar


  • It comes out of the cold slowly (The future Team Soros Model?)
  • It morphs into a larger open (possible 4GW) movement or movements (The Muslim Brotherhood Model)
  • It Quietly ends with Mission Accomplished (Heh…is this the Red EU Model?)
  • It is exposed and is broken up or destroyed (the Cambridge Five Model and aspects of the Comintern)


  • TBD


  • TBD


  • TBD

Note: The unofficial 5GW Theory Song

Update: Corrected some typos. Added an idea from here by CGW.

Additional minor updates on and after 8/1/2010

<a href=” Handbook of 5GW

The Kindle version of the Dr. TDAXP edited Handbook of 5GW has been released!

The Dreaming 5GW website might be defunct, but the 5GW Theory Timeline (extracted from the group the blog) is available here. Dreaming 5GW is alive again.

Banner for http://dreaming5gw.comRIP It Lives?

5GW Wordle

5GW Means...(1)

“We Are 5GW”

This comment from Shloky (and Lexington Green’s reply) had me laughing in a good way.

Funny turn of phrase aside, there is a nugget of wisdom regarding what may have been the true value of the GMW.

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.

Book Notes – “War Nerd by Gary Brecher”

I finished reading “War Nerd” which is collection/bookification (yeah I made up the word) of Gray Brecher’s “War Nerd” web column.

The author is annoying, smug, and geeky.

I quite enjoyed the book. You should buy it. If you start reading it, keep reading.

It is a very readable analysis region-by-region of what is referred to in XGW as 0GW and 4GW – he doesn’t use though terms. If you don’t think 0GW exists anymore, read this book.

Here is the authors “mainpoints” or view on warfare as it is now (the very last thing written in the book):

1. Most wars are asymmetrical / irregular.
2. In these wars, the guerrillas / irregulars / insurgents do not aim for military victory.
3. You can NOT defeat these groups by killing lots of their members. In fact, they want you to do that.
4. Hi-tech weaponry is mostly useless in these wars.
5. “Hearts and Minds,” meaning propaganda and morale, are more important than military superiority.
6. Most people are not rational, they are TRIBAL: “my gang yay, your gang boo!” It really is that simple. The rest is cosmetics.

Here is the author being interviewed on Public Radio (don’t believe any of the biographical info though) – he is clearly an asshole – but an interesting one:

“Unrestricted Warfare” (URW) and XGW / 4GW / 5GW

I have been meaning to write this for awhile. Zenpundit’s mention of “Unrestricted Warfare” and 4GW/5GW got me to type it:

The ideas from URW haven’t quite made there way into 4GW/5GW…there is a lot of richness in the its ideas. There is more in URW then is in Lind’s 4GW. So, does that make URW a better source for 4GW, or just for how states might fight 4GW? There is a lot of 5GW-ish stuff in there to. Maybe URW concept should be distilled and and treat as a separate category in XGW.

I leaning toward the 4GW category being shorthanded as “Full Spectrum Conflict” with the ‘Weaponization of things not thought to be weapons” being key.

Maybe it is best in XGW to treat URW as an additional generation between 4GW and 5GW though.

What do you all think?

[Cross-Posted to Dreaming 5GW]

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.