5GW RELOADED: REFLECTING ON 5th GENERATION WAR CONCEPTSPreface :
Recently, Dan of tdaxp
posted a remarkable essay recently entitled " Dreaming 5th Generation War
Additional, 5GW related links:Fifth Generation Warfare ?
)Fifth Generation Warfare
( anonymous Army CI
)Unto the Fifth Generation of War
)Go Deep( OODA and the Rainbow of Generational warfare)
)5th Generation War in the OODA Loop
( Coming Anarchy - Younghusband
)Emerging Netwar/Secretwar Tactic: Shareholder activism
)SecretWarriors Walk Without Rhythm, Won't Attract the Worm
( Phatic Communion
Fifth Generation warfare may not quite be here yet but the concept is certainly fodder for speculative analysis. Dan's "Dreaming " post was among his best and his previous OODA/5GW post attracted the attention of at least one field expert, " Open Source warfare
" guru and military analyst John Robb
. Possibly another expert as as well by email. That my friends, is the power of horizontal thinking, methodically applied !
Dan has articulated several concepts in his 5GW posts that have genuine resonance. Here is one:"If traditional war centered on an enemy's physical strength, and 4GW on his moral strength, the 5th Generation of War would focus on his intellectual strength."
Consider the evolutionary shift toward managing information flows in real-time as critical variables in terms of economic growth, communication systems and network-centric warfare
and you have to consider that Dan may have had an insight of fundamental importance. Not only would it seem to be in synch with conditions emerging for a globalized information economy future but also consistent with principles of warfare from the past:"Always mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy"- General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson
" Finding a position where you can reach an opponent, realizing when the opponent has not yet determined what to do, you strike directly, as fast as possible, without moving your body or fixing your attention
"- Miyamoto Musashi"All warfare is based on deception.""Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting"- Sun TzuA second major point of Dan's 5GW concept involes the primacy of secrecy as a tool of war:" In 5GW, secrecy is vital for success. While this has always been true on some levels, secrecy has never been vital on the grand-strategic level before 5GW. In 5GW the enemy's knowledge of your existence all but ends your plans....being secret is more important than being completely "right" in 5GW."
What is secrecy ? Secrecy is a comparative advantage in information
. The U.S. government loves secrets. It has a detailed hierarchy of secrecy and a set of security clearance rules, $ 50,000 FBI-DIA background checks and bureaucratic obfuscation that drives Dr. Steven Aftergood
and practicing diplomatic historians up the wall. Ironically, most of these millions of documents aren't actually secret just as most "covert-operations" and " undercover" CIA and DIA personnel aren't secret either. These are examples of restricted classes of information, not secrets.
5GW secrets are secret even from the government striving to implement a 5GW policy and tactical moves will be done so under plausible reasons congruent with existing factional interests and well-known public goals. The 5GW network does not come to power by a political revolution from below but by moving up through legitimate channels to implement an invisible evolution from above. Their " Future worth creating" appears by to come into being by chance, not design.
I do have an important caveat in pondering Dan's excellent 5GW work. What he and other commenters have or may have discerned about 5GW is less than what 5GW will comprise when it is fully realized and a generational shift in warfare has taken place. We have to hold out the possibility that "attacking the enemy's intellectual strength" and secrecy as proposed by Dan and my "longitudinal vision-short execution" and "shaping the battlespace" may end up be less significant than aspects of 5GW that have yet to materialize. Societal shifts by 2050 or 2080 are likely to be sizable - perhaps more extreme than the changes that occurred from 1860 to 1945 - and these shifts will produce new advantages and conditions that may favor defense over offense.
Comments as always are welcome.