Fifth Generation Warfare – Features

Fifth generation warfare (5GW) was discussed in an earlier piece or at least the advent of as a progression from fourth generation warfare (4GW). Here we will look at what characterizes 5GW  in no particular order and with a few comments added.

1. The perpetualization of enemy by the traditional military power. The enemies become almost like something from 007.

2. The routine propagandization of defeat into victory. This is not entirely new but the decision of what are (falsely) described as free media into spreading not only mild propaganda but outright lies on a routine basis is a characteristic.

3. The obsolescence of the traditional military and its traditional hardware.

4. The reactions of the establishment and its various structures and institutions in the traditional powers to deny point 3 as a whole socio-economic-miliatary-bureacratic-propaganda axis exists that is making fortunes by producing and selling useless and in terms of modern warfare highly inappropriate but highly expensive military hardware.

5. The complete removal of any meaning to outcome on a pitched fight battlefield and replacement with outcome decided in media.

6. The end of war being to achieve a political end against a foreign power and the reinvention of war, against the wishes of the traditional power, being to achieve a political victory in the traditional powers own country. This is not totally revolutionary but that battle outcome on the traditional battlefields has become redundant is. And in many ways the war or having war becomes the end in itself as the traditional power increasingly needs an enemy to create and then continue fear within its own people and to keep support for ever more expensive military expenditure on ever decreasing tax bases. Of course this finally is playing into the hands of the enemy who are happy enough to go on with it too to achieve eventual economic victory, bearing in mind the modern fifth generation warriors do not need much money or supply to sustain them, or more likely a surrender of te traditional power earlier, but a surrender of course couched in media and propaganda language of victory. But increasingly a position where such propaganda becomes untenable.

7. The increasing creation of enemies within the western powers based on religion or even ethnicity and pandering to local bigotries well driven by media. This will also be increasingly done against any normal legal, constitutional or regulatory protections afforded to citizens. The powerful state will increasingly undermine its own theoretical structures and protections and by doing so actually perpetuate the creation of the enemy within that wasnt there at the start. Of course an internal enemy and threat are needed to perpetuate and maintain fear as mentioned earlier.

8. Wars and fights against enemy labels that don’t exist except in the manufactured speeches of politicians, military officers and intelligence agencies but which serve to scare the public in the way say spectre did the public in the Bond movies. The reality of the diversity and number of the true enemy and their nature and grievances must be actually hidden and made irrelevant.

9. Absolutely no lines of battle any more.

10.  The total failure of expensive military hardware and technology to overcome not just traditional low tech weaponry as we see in 4GW but also the failure and undermining of expensive military hardware by creative and dynamic use of technology available to all by the non-state actor. This ,but of course is not limited to, using new media avenues and technologies to widely publicize things with impunity as the non-state actors highly educated, young, highly motivated and adaptive technology employers outdo the struggling intelligence bureaucracies filled with aging players with outmoded ideas,understanding and low adaptability.

11. The ability of the non-state actor to increasingly take the fights to places of their choosing. The theoretical weaker side chooses the “battlefields”.

12. The increasingly low morale of the traditional powers fighting force and the increasingly high morale of the new army ranged against them.

13. Small poorly armed “armies” beating larger “well-trained” and equipped armies.

14. Increasing use of non-traditional weaponry as killing and wounding becomes les important. This may lead to a sixth generation warfare, the subject of which will be looked at later.

15. The inability of the traditional powers to either face up to or even if recognizing to be able to make the changes needed to compete in the new wars at the start fo this millennium. Even now they don’t recognize they need well-trained multi lingual and culturally sensitive troops willing to don normal clothing rather than the bizarre and undereducated troops they field today in their armoured clothing, armoured vehicles and willing to shoot anyone who comes near them. And things over the next few years are not going to get easier as the way war develops is no longer decided by the state actor but by the non-state one and that in itself means a move away from arrogant attitudes and assumptions even for the western power to keep up in a reactive manner, The chance  of that happening when also the huge economic incentive of big arms is added to the equation means for the foreseeable future the traditional power will routinely lose every fifth generation war.

Earlier pieces: Fourth Generation Warfare, Fifth Generation Warfare and Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Generation Warfare


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