Monday, July 25, 2005

Jeremiah of Organic Warfare ( great strategy blog, check it out !) and Steve made some observations and asked some excellent questions. Dan of tdaxp helpfully answered some in the comments section of the previous post but I thought I'd add to the discussion as well. My comments will be in regular text.

Jeremiah wrote:

"It's worth mentioning that 5GW is not limited to governments at all, or even to transnational groups. So-called "lone wolf actions" have become part of the lexicon of white supremacist groups, and I suspect that the concept will be spreading. No network to analyze, no cell structure to surveill and roll up."

Agreed. " Leaderless resistance" was a concept of Louis Beam, a brilliant, eccentric and dangerous guru of the extreme racist right underground and this modality of terrorism in the actions of Timothy McVeigh were responsible for the second worst terror attack in American history. Lone Wolves like the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski ( who actually served time with McVeigh and Ramzi Youzef) and the DC Sniper John Muhammed were far less destructive but that was due primarily to lack of imagination and overriding personal obsessions. They did however succeed in spreading a climate of fear and diverting considerable law enforcement and media attention from other matters.

"* More highly connected networks create group loyalty transcending national boundaries

* Greater empowerment of the individual through information and technology allows one person or a small group to do immense damage: the depths have not yet begun to be plumbed

* Highly concentrated information, energy and economic hubs allow small attacks to produce faliure cascades, often capitalizing on stored "work" in the form of fuel or otherwise to produce catastrophically greater damage "

Again I am in full agreement here with Jeremiah. My first post on 5GW touched on superempowerment while my series on Dr. Barnett's PNM deleted scenes discussed the effects of System Perturbations and vulnerabilities to such attacks.

Steve wrote:

"Is Network-Centric Warfare considered as refinement (or optional add-on) to 3GW, or is it a complete alternative to 3GW4GW5GW?"

Network-centric Warfare is the theory of Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, the former head of the Pentagon's Office of Defense Transformation, an adviser to Donald Rumsfeld, a mentor to Dr. Barnett and an organizational genius. To use a religious analogy, Network-centric Warfare is an alternative to 4GW theory in the same sense that Protestantism is an alternative and rival to Catholism. Both schools of strategic thought are influenced by the ideas of John Boyd and see networks as a central variable to understanding and dominating warfare. Right now the two sides are as chummy in the halls of the Defense Department as the Protestants and Catholics once were in Germany during the Thirty Year's War. Perhaps a Westphalia is coming ?

Cebrowski on Network-centric Warfare

A 4GW reading list

"Also the "Global Guerillas" idea: Is that a refinement (or optional add-on to 4GW), or is a something complete alternative to 3GW/4GW/5GW/NCW?"

Good question. I very much like John Robb's " Global Guerillas" and " Open-source warfare" concepts. I believe he is in the process of putting his ideas in a book format which I look forward to reading since he strikes me as having both great field experience and considerable conceptual ability as a theorist. I won't categorize him though until I'm familiar with the entire range of his ideas but I will say he seems very sympathetic to 4GW theory.

"Would there be at least 2 directions in 5GW: One more tech-focused, and the other more information/people focused? Or would that be the distinction between 5GW and 5GP?"

I would say that's an excellent description of the 4GW vs. NCW no-hold's barred, barroom policy brawl going on right now moreso than 5GW.

"How would a Nation-State defend against 5GW?"

First and foremost by awareness. A large part of 5GW may not be directed at states so much as within states to hijack the levers of power, though 5GW attacks on states to bring them down will no doubt occur. Antonio Gramsci, the Marxist radical theorist conceived of a " Long March through the institutions" to capture Western states for socialism but his concept of the Left was a massive entity compared to a 5GW group. Or even a 4GW group for that matter.

"How would a non-State defend against 5GW?"

We really haven't gotten to defense yet :o)

"Wouldn't 5GW be perpetual war alternating between "hot" 5GW and "cold" 5GW periods?"


An arc of conflict of which "war " is but a part - and probably a small part - is a better way of loooking at 5GW. Machiavelli, Han Fei-Tzu and Sun Tzu for visionaries.

"The "cold war" 5GW might look like paranoia to those who are not focused on detecting/fighting it. I suppose that is one way somebody would fight 5GW: Portray those detecting it, as paranoids/crazy/eccentric to marginalize them among those on there own side"

We have met James Jesus Angleton and he is us. Another bias is seeing conspiracies out of mere and genuine coincidences.

"Are democratic governments inherently poorly organized to fight 5GW? What structures (gov and non-gov) should a democratic nation-state develop to fight/detect 5GW?"

I think open societies are actually better poised than authoritarian or totalitarian ones to survive 5GW attacks because decision-making is decentralized, information flows are wide open and the degree of transparency is far higher ( if not actually transparent).

Nicolae Ceausescu was undone by elements within his own Stalinist security apparatus that kept him in the dark, manipulated and betrayed him. By his own orders and actions Ceaucescu's information feedback loop had come to resemble a funhouse mirror so that he did not even seem to realize that he had become the most hated figure in Romania until a fenzied mob was shouting for his blood. He died running frantically around a room screaming as Army recruits vied to be the first to blow his head off at close range. Three days earlier Ceaucsescu had the life of every Romanian in his hand - or so he thought.
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