Fourth Generation Warfare

Fourth generation warfare (4GW) is by its nature a confusionist approach to war, defence or liberation. 4GW relies on using the structures and institutions of the enemy to undermine and ultimately defeat the enemy. The reliance by the conventional sides on the formal role of the military and the way it will react.

Practitioners of 4GW rely on their opponents using traditional tactics and strategies as well as employing conventional arms in a conventional matter while challenging them with a force that could be anyone or everyone but definitely an unseen or less seen fighting force.

If the fighting takes place in the territory of the unconventional side they will blend in with the rest of the people or even be the people. They will not be a formal uniformed army although at times they may assume uniform and fight conventionally as per Hezbollah, but they will always be part of the population refusing to accept the rule book of the invader. This approach will leave a conventional army floundering with little ability to distinguish between enemy and others. The political nature of 4GW in local terms is who the people support will win regardless of conventional military prowess or level of weapon sophistication. Indeed practitioners of 4GW will employ the very tactic of low tech beating high-tech to cause humiliation to the invader. In the battle for the people the invader with a conventional force and one usually not used to the customs or even language of the locals will find themselves rapidly becoming unpopular especially as they start out of frustration killing local civilians who cannot distinguish from local fighting forces. Even with the support of local  allies the invader will rapidly find that all the technological advantage and training is of no use as the battlefield has become not a demarcated zone but everywhere and the forces opposed to them everyone. Defeat will then inevitably follow with it just being a question of how much hurt the invader wants to take or whether they can arrange a surrender to the local forces that can be spun as something different back home via their vast propaganda apparatus. This invasion resistance use of 4GW can be seen in many recent military invasions.

If the fighting takes place as occasionally it will on the territory of the advanced conventional side the attack will generally be of a low tech nature and one that even if not succesful to any large degree will have an overall effect of far more massive proportions in political and propaganda terms. One crucial tenet of 4GW is that the political will of the adversary will be broken. As most advanced countries tend to be democracies, the breaking of the will to support a war becomes paramount. As, particularly, westernised countries have become so wealthy and people have come to expect comfortable and convenient lives the will to support wars, see their side lose troops, see their side commit atrocities, face fear of direct attack, or face economic hardship over such has diminished massively leaving 4GW practitioners with one distinct advantage compared to the past. Practitioners, in confusionist terms, turn the structures and institutions of the west against them. In this case democracy, relying on the choice of the people and of course the known fact that a government will want to perpetuate itself is easily used against a developed enemy to gain victory.

Wherever the fighting takes place the arrogance of the advanced side in that their structures and institutions are utterly invincible will also be used against them. While this notion of invincibility is built on strong foundations from the past where other forms of warfare were used it is not at all anything other than a weakness in 4GW and also means a maximization of humiliation after defeat and however much spun by the media something that will always register at a deep and probably unrecognized level with the defeated people.

Of course war is just an extension of politics and winning a war depends on achieving your political ends. However, as the advanced western countries control extremely powerful organs of propaganda they are quite capable of spinning defeat into a victory of#r a kind of no result. Few people at the end of conflict notice that political objectives that have been watered down on an almost daily basis as the conflict has progressed have not been met. It is usually a celebration of well we got the troops home or we got them to stop shooting at us or any other minor concession the victorious side concedes to. This can be seen in the revisionist reporting or recording of wars from Vietnam to Lebanon. That the structures and institutions of control including the military must perpetuate themselves means at all cost the myths must be invented, fed and as time goes by cemented and embellished. Such things a truth and honesty cannot be tolerated and certainly not the people having any awareness that the very structures and institutions that control them are failing in any way. Weakness cannot be admitted. This in itself is confusion causing as even though the intense power of the propaganda mechanisms known incorrectly as the free media is effective to degrees never before known people are also seeing defeat and it registers at some depth even if heavily suppressed by meme and manufactured idea. So from a confusionist perspective not is only 4GW a confusionist approach to war but the product of defeat but unrecognized defeat is an addition to the modern confused state in which  people live.

See also: Fifth Generation Warfare, Fifth Generation Warfare – Features and Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Generation Warfare

One thought on “Fourth Generation Warfare

  1. I missed this before. I like the easy to follow analysis. The current world sometimes seems hard to understand but in reality it is all very simple.

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