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=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/The 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.

“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.

BookTV Podcast with “The Utility of Force” author Gen. Rupert Smith…

…can be subscribed to here. That’s how I listened to it. The webcast version link crashed my browser.

It was quite interesting. He seems to be presenting a similar framework to Lind or XGW. Of course, since he is British, he sounds even smarter then he really is (which is smart to begin with). I am getting the book. He was also on the also on the Daily Show.

Defining War…and…Should I bother to make a distinction between War and Conflict?

The new June Esquire has an article/interview on John Yoo.

This is not a review or critique of the article which I can’t find on-line.

The article begins with Yoo lecturing his students trying to pull out a definition of what war is. There is no good answer definition presented though means, scale and scope are all discussed.

I though I could come up with a definition.

So here my pass at definitions.

Making War in the 21st century:

The non-trivial action(s) of a global actor(s) to purposefully attempt to coerce another global actor(s) to take some action(s), cease some action(s), or maintain a state of inactivity that the second actor(s) would not otherwise do or not otherwise consider beneficial to itself.

Here is a shorter version of Making War:

War is the attempted non-trivial coercion of one global actor(s) by another global actor(s).


– The use of the wording non-trivial is a bit of a cop out…it is subjective.

– War is what you do, not what you think.

– Where do perceptions fit in? Do they at all?

– My definition doesn’t distinguish between kinetic and non-kinetic coercion. Should it?

– I think global actors that think war is just kinetic are going to loose a lot of wars.

– The term Purposeful implies war is deliberate, not accidental action.

– The term Purposeful implies at least one side is aware that there is a war.

– The def is broad enough to includes all types of wars.

– Hmm…does my definition imply all interactions between actors is war? If so, it needs to be refined.

Is the 0GW part of the XGW Wrong? [Update]

Should 0GW be dropped from XGW?

– Is 0GW just 1GW…but seen through a lens of primitive technologies and societies?

– Are some parts of 0GW really just 4GW…but once again through a lens of primitive technologies and societies?

– Are some parts of of 0GW really 2GW, without the industrial base but with the mobilization of the society (even if that is just a tribe).

So, is 0GW really needed as part of XGW?

XGW Grid (slight update)

I am working on an XGW Primer.

Comments are appreciated.

Update – Adding this graphic for reference:

OODA with xGW Mappings