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Subject: William Lind and Forth Generation War
longrifle    7/19/2006 1:18:58 AM
I'm not really sure how to catagorize this topic so it's going here. What do most of you think about William Lind's Fourth Generation Warfare theories? He takes great pains to point out that his definitin of 4GW is NOT an insugency or a guerrilla war. He defines it as war by non nation state entities, usually of a guerrilla nature of course, but not always. Assuming-and I know it's a big assumption-that the nation states really loose the monopoly on war, how will that effect the militaries of a nation state? Less heavy forces? More light infantry and SF? Greater use of private military companies? I don't think the nation state is headed for extinction, but let's face it; the tribe is probably the oldest killing machine, not the nation state.
 
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Cato    RE:William Lind and Forth Generation War   7/19/2006 1:10:13 PM
Longrifle, If the nation state loses its monopoly on warfare, I believe we are in for another dark ages where victory will be defined by greatest number of skulls piled up ala the Mongols. Conventions ameliorating the excesses of war (Geneve, Hague) were designed by Western nation states to limit the unnecessary carnage while fighting another Western nation state. Nation states have institutions that do the fighting (an army), and are seperate and distinct from the non military populace of the state (I know this is an intellectual ideal, and more civillians were killed in intra-Western conflict than any other conflict in history, but just bear with me). The tribe has no such institutioinal divisions within its society, therefore the center of gravity (I love using smart sounding words like that...thanks SP!) is not the armed forces which need to be attacked and destroyed to insure the enemy's submission, but the peolpe of the tribe itself. So, in this situation, I suppose more SF is called for, but winning hearts and minds of the opposing tribe seems problematical at best. Tribal or confessional warfare is a zero-sum game where compromise is impossible, or at least impossible unitl both sides are fought out (30 years war), or one side attains total, genocidal victory (Isrealites vs. Caananites). A bleak prognosis indeed. Thanks, Cato
 
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GOP    RE:William Lind and Forth Generation War   7/19/2006 1:20:09 PM
There will be no major changes. Of course, Nation State's will develope lighter forces and more SOF capabilities because of all of the geurrilla wars that the "Tribes" are involved in, but nothing major is going to change outside of that. By the way, the Nation state will not lose the monopoly of war at all. As long as the Nation state has F-16's, Heavy Artillery, Nuclear Weapons, well-armed and well led infantry with top of the line kit (including M-16's, Body armor, etc) , and the Tribe is carrying AK-47's and alot of faith, then the Tribe will almost always lose. Superiority in weapons and training will almost always prevail.
 
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longrifle    RE:William Lind and Forth Generation War   7/19/2006 2:30:29 PM
>>.....the Tribe is carrying AK-47's and alot of faith, then the Tribe will almost always lose. Superiority in weapons and training will almost always prevail.<< Yes, and sometimes that's relevant, but is it always relevent? That's one of Lind's theories that some people don't like, that you can win militarily and loose the public relations battle, both at home and abroad. The application of superior firepower does not always guarantee a victory. Lind sometimes calls it "looseing morally," in certain situations. You will usually be seen as a senior picking on a freshman, and in the end you don't really win anything. That's one of Lind's theories that create a lot of controversy, to say the least. I haven't decided how much of Lind's 4GW warfare threories I buy, but I don't think we can afford to dismiss them outright, just because they aren't convenient, either.
 
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GOP    RE:William Lind and Forth Generation War   7/19/2006 2:36:29 PM
>>That's one of Lind's theories that some people don't like, that you can win militarily and loose the public relations battle, both at home and abroad<< This is correct, I didn't even think about this...I was mainly reffering to the part about Nation States losing the "Monopoly of War", but this point is correct. Check out the US/Allies in Vietnam, the Soviets in Afghanistan, and the US public so far in Iraq. My belief is this...that if the Nation States public continues to support the fight, then the Nation State will almost always win.
 
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Sabre    RE:William Lind and Forth Generation War   7/20/2006 5:05:44 PM
One thing that I do worry about is the viewpoint is still very Western. There are other nations and tribes that have no qualms at all with genocide. Some observers here have even decided that war will become obsolete, since now people are so "connected" to each other, and when we see the ugly face of war, dead bodies, etc, on television and the internet, we will be too horrified to continue with it. Of course, that neatly overlooks the recent examples of other places on the planet where the local populace has seen the dead bodies of their enemies being dragged through the streets right in front of them, and far from being horrified, they smiled and cheered. There will come a day when we shouldn't be so focused on non-lethal weapons, and constrained, precision munitions... I would say that our current advantage in the West is not just high tech weapons, but the more important one is the amazingly high level of training and dicipline the our armed forces have. That can count for more when fighting a non-nation "actor" or "tribe".
 
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Carl S    RE:William Lind and Forth Generation War   7/23/2006 8:05:29 AM
I've been familar with Linds ideas since Gen Gray & Col Wyle introduced them to the USMC nearly thirty years ago. I think if you look carefully through the professional military writing since then you will find the school that followed Lind have taken his ideas much further at the practical level. Gen Krulak & Col Hammes amoung others have done a lot to incorprate Linds ideas with practical experince. They also went beyond Lind. Actually back to one of Linds inspirations - Brig Gen Boyd, and to others such as Sun Tzu & Clauswitz. Linds basic ideas are valid, but many of the other things he tossed out should not have gone out of the 'branstorming session'. ie the USN putting A10 aircraft on aircraft carriers. Remarks like that have not served Lind well. In the longer run Linds ideas are the adaptation of the basics of Clauswitz & SunTzu projected onto the specifics of what he thought 21st Century warfare might be like. Of course that is one side of the thinking of the military professionals. Other models such as the Soviet stratigic/operational doctrines, the Jomini like 'Firepower/Attrition', Maoist peasants warfare, the Methodical Battle, ect... are still favored by many.
 
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longrifle    RE:William Lind and Forth Generation War   7/23/2006 3:46:26 PM
>>In the longer run Linds ideas are the adaptation of the basics of Clauswitz & SunTzu projected onto the specifics of what he thought 21st Century warfare might be like.<< I haven't understood him correctly then. I thought he was very insistent that 4GW was all about non nation states v. nation states or non nation states v. each other, regardless of the type of warfare engaged in. He seems to get irritated that some consider 4GW to be LIC, UW, or COIN. Lind seems to think that 4GW may contain those things but it isn't defined by those things. Based on that definition, the Vietnam War was not 4WG since North Vietnam was a nation state. Didn't Clauswitz consider war a continuation of politics? I don't think of Al Qaeda as a political organization in the usual sense, maybe it could be considered that though.
 
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S-2    RE:William Lind and Forth Generation War   7/23/2006 4:14:20 PM
CATO largely has it right on the looming "dark ages". We've allowed our opponents to define the future battlefields and the nature of conflict, both of which highlight our flaws while diminishing our more noteworthy capabilities. Institutionally, the civilized world is unprepared for the new reality of war.
 
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Carl S    RE:William Lind and Forth Generation War   7/30/2006 3:13:34 PM
"I haven't understood him correctly then. I thought he was very insistent that 4GW " I think you have understood what you read of Lind correctly. But he has been around for quite a while and written a lot. Much of his writing I read years ago had little to do with his ideas about 4th Generation warfare they were oriented towards conventional warfare. The 1970s & 80s were dominated by the Cold War and Linds remarks then were more focused towards it. I'd really recomend you reread Sun Tzu, Clauswitz and whatever you can find on Boyd.
 
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Carl S    RE:William Lind and Forth Generation War   7/30/2006 3:36:49 PM
"Didn't Clauswitz consider war a continuation of politics? I don't think of Al Qaeda as a political organization in the usual sense, maybe it could be considered that though." Here you have one of the little problems that appears when reading Clauswitz. I originally thought of the term 'politics' as relating to what politicians do when not soliciting bribes or passing out contracts to their brother in law. later I learned it helps to have a good knowledge of the German culture and history of Clauswitzes era, and to know a bit about 18th Century European philosophy. In early 19th Century Europe 'politics' as Caluswitz used it in the German language included broad social trends, the desires or demands of national, cultural, ethnic groups ect... the activities of politicians was seen as a small subset of this larger interaction of nations and cultures. In that sense Al Qaeda is playing a political role on the worlds stage. And it terrorist acts are in Clauswitzes 19th Century view acts of violence intended to bend others to its will. Therefore it fit his basic definition of war. That is a act of violence by a organized group with the object of coercing others to do its will. Deeper into the text Clauswitz makes refrence to parsing out differences in types of warfare, social norms, and international law, but his foundation is on these simple fundamental definitions.
 
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