Dan of “tdaxp”:http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com did some amazing work illustrating the “soundlessness and formlessness of 5th generation warfare”:http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/02/04/5gw-soundless-formless-polished-leading.html after extrapolating a possible definition of 5GW by “going deeper into the OODA loop”:http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/07/18/go-deep-ooda-and-the-rainbow-of-generational-warfare.html. He does this by placing the generations of warfare on the OODA loop in a number of illustrations that I will reproduce here. First the OODA loop:
Then we will overlay the different generations of war:
To use Dan’s words (“read here to see how he comes to these conclusions”:http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/07/18/go-deep-ooda-and-the-rainbow-of-generational-warfare.html):
* 1GW was defined by conflict centered around an enemy’s ability to decide and act
* 2GW was defined by conflict centered around an enemy’s ability to orient and decide
* 3GW is defined by conflict centered around an enemy’s ability to orient
* 4GW is defined by conflict centered around Observe and Orient.
Dan concluded that 5GW will center around an opponent’s ability to OBSERVE:
bq. 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._
Dan illustrated his point with a 5GW scenario where NATIVISTS play the US GOVERNMENT off of AL QAEDA to get tighter border control with Mexico. In fighting false-flag organizations who they think is Al Qaeda, the US GOVERNMENT cracks down on immigration and the NATIVISTS get what they want. The US GOVERNMENT doesn’t even realize what the true war was.
Dan’s concept of 5GW is centered on one opponent’s misperception of the enemy. The sides in conflict are focussed on each other to the exclusion of key players in the conflict.
Now, I think I might have come up with an alternative vision of 5GW, but one that remains within the OODA loop rubric Dan has previously outlined. I look forward to hearing Dan and “Mark’s”:http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/07/unto-fifth-generation-of-war.html input on this (and anyone else who cares to slog through this stuff).
h2. Emergent Networks and 5GW
First of all, much of this came from reading John Robb’s excellent “Global Guerillas”:http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/.
Distributed networks are how we normally think of the latest phase of terrorist organizations. Networked cells of agents come together _ad hoc_ to pull off an attack and then disperse into the population. This a major breakaway from the hierarchical organization of revolutionary guerillas of Mao’s era. But what happens in the case of a different kind of network? Follow me through this narrative:
Al Qaeda started off as a dense network of highly connected individuals that conducted training etc in the hills of Afghanistan. Once they were smashed by the US and ran to the hills the amount of direct control held by bin Laden diminished greatly. Direct interaction was replaced by globally distributed passive communication that outlined the group’s objectives, and an even more distributed network was left on their own to do what they can for “the cause”: we had the disappearance of Al Qaeda the “terrorist organization”, and the appearance of Al Qaeda the “movement.” There were all sorts of groups that stood up to claim membership to the greater network of AQ after committing some act. Look at “Al Qaeda in Iraq” and other regional franchises of the organization. Copycat groups like the London bombers also appeared.
Now, maybe a core organization of Al Qaeda still exists, but there seems to be a much more loose global community surrounding the AQ idea. This begs the question: could AQ 2.0, or even some future “terrorist organization”, be the result of an “emergent community”:http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2005/07/emergent_commun.html? “Emergence”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence is a bottom-up organization of complex systems, where a “number of agents operate in an environment, forming more complex behaviours as a collective.” See “this interview with Steven Johnson”:http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/network/2002/02/22/johnson.html for more examples of emergence.
What if the next “war on a noun” we face, isn’t even a true organization, but whose activities look like the results of an organized adversary? What if we end up fighting something that doesn’t actually exist? Thus the terrorist “organization” has struck deep into our OODA loop, rendering us unable to even OBSERVE our enemy correctly. That would be a truly formless adversary. As the “Hagakure”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagakure says:
bq. Existing where there is nothing is the meaning of the phrase “Form is emptiness”
It reminds me of “The Usual Suspects”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114814/?fr=c2l0ZT1kZnx0dD0xfGZiPXV8cG49MHxrdz0xfHE9VGhlIFVzdWFsIFN1c3BlY3RzfGZ0PTF8bXg9MjB8bG09NTAwfGNvPTF8aHRtbD0xfG5tPTE_;fc=1;ft=20;fm=1 and the legendary crimelord Keyser SozÃƒÂ©. Was he an actual person or simply a myth resulting from a series of loosely related crimes? “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Could the opposite be true? Could the greatest trick a terrorist movement ever pull is convincing the world that it _did_ exist? I could see how warring on this myth (effectively a figment of the paranoid imagination) to the ends of the earth could definitely bankrupt a state.
So, to recap, Dan’s version of 5GW has a key player acting behind the scenes that cannot be OBSERVEd. Younghusband’s version has a non-existent actor that is being perceived as OBSERVEable. Thoughts?