DID YOU KNOW? DTIC has over 3.5 million final reports on DoD funded research, development, test, and evaluation activities available to our registered users. Click HERE
to register or log in.
Fourth-Generation War and Other Myths
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
Pagination or Media Count:
Fourth Generation War 4GW emerged in the late 1980s, but has become popular due to recent twists in the war in Iraq and terrorist attacks worldwide. Despite reinventing itself several times, the theory has several fundamental flaws that need to be exposed before they can cause harm to U.S. operational and strategic thinking. A critique of 4GW is both fortuitous and important because it also provides us an opportunity to attack other unfounded assumptions that could influence U.S. strategy and military doctrine. In brief, the theory holds that warfare has evolved through four generations 1 the use of massed manpower, 2 firepower, 3 maneuver, and now 4 an evolved form of insurgency that employs all available networks -- political, economic, social, military -- to convince an opponents decision makers that their strategic goals are unachievable. The notion of 4GW first appeared in the late 1980s as a vague sort of out of the box thinking, and it entertained every popular conjecture about future warfare. However, instead of examining the way terrorists belonging to Hamas or Hezbollah actually behave, it misleadingly pushed the storm-trooper ideal as the terrorist of tomorrow. Instead of looking at the probability that such terrorists would improvise with respect to the weapons they used -- box cutters, aircraft, and improvised explosive devices -- it posited high-tech wonder weapons. The theory of 4GW reinvented itself once again after September 11, 2001 911, when its proponents claimed that Al Qaeda was waging a 4GW against the United States. Rather than thinking critically about future warfare, the theorys proponents became more concerned with demonstrating that they had predicted the future. What we are really seeing in the war on terror is how globalization has given terrorist groups greater mobility and access worldwide. We would do well to abandon the theory of 4GW altogether, since it sheds very little, if any, light on this phenomenon.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE