What is Fifth-Generation War? It’s a buzzword.
Fourth-Generation War (4GW) is something of a buzzword, but it’s linked to reality. When the historians of the 22nd century write about how the USA lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, they might mention Fourth-Generation War — i.e. the breakdown of war centered on the post-Westphalian nation-state and the resumption of warfare centered on typical human concerns – including family, religion, private ambition, etc.
One very important writer on 4GW topics is John Robb. He has done some good work, and he’s had some impact, but he is pitching his ideas. He comes across as a self-promoting salesman, always trying to sell you on his latest hype. I presume that he learned this habit back when he was a rising star in the military.
Here’s an example of some good writing from Robb:
The real brains behind the 4GW concept is William S. Lind.
Lind expends the lion’s share of his brainpower on trying to teach America’s warfighters how to win wars. E.g.:
Sometimes his military expertise leads him to make suggestions on civilian matters:
The last I had heard, Lind did not like the notion of 5GW, but the 5GW buzzword was getting some attention from Robb:
Years ago, Lind wrote:
On War #53
Fifth Generation Warfare?
By William S. Lind
Despite the fact that the framework of the Four Generations of Modern War is relatively new, first appearing in print in 1989, some observers are now talking about a Fifth Generation. Some see the Fifth Generation as a product of new technologies, such as nanotechnology. Others define it as the state’s struggle to maintain its monopoly on war and social organization in the face of Fourth Generation challengers. One correspondent defined it as terrorist acts done by one group in such a manner that they are blamed on another, something traditionally known as “pseudo-operations.”
These ideas are all valuable, and if people try to think beyond or outside the framework of the Four Generations, that is probably a good thing. An intellectual framework must remain open or it descends into an ideology, something poisonous per se (as Russell Kirk wrote, conservatism is the negation of ideology). At the same time, I have to say that these attempts to announce a Fifth Generation seem to go a generation too far.
One reason for the confusion may be a misapprehension of what “generation” means….
While attempts to think beyond the Four Generations should generally be welcomed, there are some shoals to avoid. One is technological determinism, the false notion that war’s outcome is usually determined by superiority in equipment. Martin van Creveld’s book Technology and War makes a strong case that technology is seldom the determining factor.
A related danger is technological hucksterism: coming up with Madison Avenue slogans to sell new weapons programs by claiming that they fundamentally change warfare. This kind of carnival sideshow act lies at the heart of the so-called “Revolution in Military Affairs,” and it dominates all discussions of national defense in Washington. Every contractor who hopes to get his snout in the trough claims that his widget “revolutionizes” war. As the framework of the Four Generations spreads, you can be sure that the Merchants of Death will claim that whatever they are trying to sell is an absolute necessity for Fourth (or Fifth) Generation war. It will all be poppycock.
From what I have seen thus far, honest attempts to discover a Fifth Generation suggest that their authors have not fully grasped the vast change embodied in the Fourth Generation. The loss of the state’s monopoly, not only on war but also on social organization and first loyalties, alters everything. We are only in the earliest stages of trying to understand what the Fourth Generation means in full …
Attempting to visualize a Fifth Generation from where we are now is like trying to see the outlines of the Middle Ages from the vantage point of the late Roman Empire. …
Because I am cautious of “technological hucksterism,” I disagree with Legionnaire’s claim that the future will be characterized by a new 5th generation warfare.
His claim references tdaxp:
But recall the wisdom of William S. Lind: 4th generation war is nothing new. It is a RETURN to the old style of pre-Westphalian war.
Likewise, tdaxp talks about 5th generation war, and gives an example of Anglo-Saxon nativists stirring up the USA government to close its borders. This is nothing new. This is the same kind of subversion and spycraft that has plagued the USA (and other countries) even before JFK was shot.
5th generation war is just a fancy way of talking about spooks subverting nations for private interests. Every nation already suffers from the machinations of such spooks. It’s not a coming age. It’s not a new idea. It’s business-as-usual.
Consider the following example of spook work:
I have recommended Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold History of the US, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the US, and now I recommend Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers, the story of the long rule of John Foster and Allen Dulles over the State Department and CIA and their demonization of reformist governments that they often succeeded in overthrowing. Kinzer’s history of the Dulles brothers’ plots to overthrow six governments provides insight into how Washington operates today.
In 1953 the Dulles brothers overthrew Iran’s elected leader, Mossadegh and imposed the Shah, thus poisoning American-Iranian relations through the present day. …
The Dulles brothers overthrew Guatemala’s popular president Arbenz, because his land reform threatened the interest of the Dulles brothers’ Sullivan & Cromwell law firm’s United Fruit Company client. The brothers launched an amazing disinformation campaign depicting Arbenz as a dangerous communist who was a threat to Western civilization. The brothers enlisted dictators such as Somoza in Nicaragua and Batista in Cuba against Arbenz. The CIA organized air strikes and an invasion force. But nothing could happen until Arbenz’s strong support among the people in Guatemala could be shattered. The brothers arranged this through Cardinal Spellman, who enlisted Archbishop Rossell y Arellano. “A pastoral letter was read on April 9, 1954 in all Guatemalan churches.”
A masterpiece of propaganda, the pastoral letter misrepresented Arbenz as a dangerous communist who was the enemy of all Guatemalans. False radio broadcasts produced a fake reality of freedom fighter victories and army defections. Arbenz asked
the UN to send fact finders, but Washington prevented that from happening. American journalists, with the exception of James Reston, supported the lies. Washington threatened and bought off Guatemala’s senior military commanders, who forced Arbenz to resign. The CIA’s chosen and well paid “liberator,” Col. Castillo Armas, was installed as Arbenz’s successor.
We recently witnessed a similar operation in Ukraine. …
What had really happened is that a democratic and reformist government was overthrown because it compensated United Fruit Company for the nationalization of the company’s fallow land at a value listed by the company on its tax returns. America’s leading law firm or perhaps more accurately, America’s foreign policy-maker, Sullivan & Cromwell, had no intention of permitting a democratic government to prevail over the interests of the law firm’s client, especially when senior partners of the firm controlled both overt and covert US foreign policy. The two brothers, whose family members were invested in the United Fruit Company, simply applied the resources of the CIA, State Department, and US media to the protection of their private interests. …
Keep in mind that this use of the US government in behalf of private interests occurred 60 years ago long before the corrupt Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama regimes. And no doubt in earlier times as well.
The Dulles brothers next intended victim was Ho Chi Minh. …
The Dulles brothers’ next targets were President Sukarno of Indonesia, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba of Congo, and Fidel Castro. The plot against Castro was such a disastrous failure that it cost Allen Dulles his job. President Kennedy lost confidence in the agency and told his brother Bobby that after his reelection he was going to break the CIA into a thousand pieces. When President Kennedy removed Allen Dulles, the CIA understood the threat and struck first.
I think Legionnaire and I can agree on some things. For example, we could probably agree that the centralized nation-states will continue to wallow in political correctness for many years to come. Consider the following:
Leftist policy in the post-Black Panther era has been to compel the police to do their bidding. And in this they have been wildly successful. Indeed, it is impossible to think of a signle institution that does not actively abet the Left’s priorities. There may be an occasional holdout — Hobby Lobby perhaps, or an odd conservative church — but these are far and few between. Leftists today enjoy, with only occasional exceptions, the unfettered support of the courts, the Congress, the Presidency, business, academia, churches, the military — every institutional power supports their agenda.
anything short of total integration will change the effective performance standard for women. I don’t see the Army doing that. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
But I’m getting off my points…
Second, on a more macro level, no one, to my knowledge, is arguing that women are superior to men in combat roles. Therefore, the best result that the Army can hope for by introducing women to combat roles (and by extension, Ranger school) is parity with mens’ performance.
Now, keep in mind that there are a limited number of slots for Ranger school (typically 300-400 per class, if I recall correctly). Keep in mind also that the females are 16% of the Army. This means that every slot allotted to a female is shutting out 4 potential well-qualified male candidates. So to top male performance, the females have to not only perform at parity with the male average, but they have to perform in the top 75th percentile of make performance (if I’m doing the math right…)
So any aggregate lesser or lessened performance – whether in longevity in the Service, in combat accomplishment, in physical hardiness, in leadership effectiveness, or other factors — would mean that that all female Ranger slots were wasted on a predictably inferior product. And there are plenty of indicators that women will, in aggregate, have comparatively poorer performance in the short and long-term (assuming they stay in) than men.
We’ve already seen that accommodations have been made for women in the service for performance and equipment. That alone, even actual performance notwithstanding, is what we might call a type of transaction cost, and leads to greater costs to the Army than just having men go through it.
So even if the women are comparable to men, the cost to the Army of the integration leads to a lesser outcome than keeping it male-only. …
What are the benefits?
There are none unless women bring additional efficacy–over and above what men bring–to the combat arms. As mentioned before, I haven’t seen anybody seriously argue that case.
It’s like Economics In One Lesson; we’re breaking the window, …
In this case, though, it’s human capital and combat capability we’re talking about. We’ll never know its sum, but the cost of this feminist careeroganda could literally be lives.