Archive for the 'Strategy and Force Employment' Category

It’s Not All About Iran


Global Security Newswire

© National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, March 13, 2008

“The last thing the Middle East needs now is another war,” a senior Defense Department official recently said when asked about the prospect that President Bush might order airstrikes on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities.

Were those the famous last words of Adm. William J. “Fox” Fallon — the nation’s top commander, who resigned under pressure this week after the publication of an Esquire profile describing him as “brazenly challenging his commander in chief” by resisting war against Tehran?

Not exactly.

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Making sense out of 4GW

[Significantly revised at 6 pm EDST, on March 12th]

Fabius Maximus, in stark contrast to his nickname “Cunctator” (Delayer), takes the initiative:

When non-T conflicts become struggles for control of large geographic areas (not neighborhoods) AND involve substantial use of force, we call them 4GW’s. In the words of Martin van Creveld (private communication) 4GW is a tactic (or body of tactics) used in non-T conflicts. So is crime. So are private acts of violence by super-empowered individuals (see BNW [Brave New War] and Robb’s other writings for more on this). Although these three things can blur together, they are conceptually distinct concepts. Confusing them by calling them “war” can have bad consequences. This is one of the key contributions of Richards in IWCKI [If We Can Keep It].

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A gap in the line

A large-scale conventional war involving the United States and a “near peer” (read: Russia or China - see Bill Lind’s latest, below, for more) just isn’t going to happen. But a massive pandemic, either natural or released by accident or terrorism, cannot be so glibly ruled out. This season’s flu fiasco shows just how far we are from being able to cope with virus-based diseases, even relatively mild ones.

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Alternative Definitions of “4GW”

A new generation?

When Bill Lind, Keith Nightengale, John Schmitt, Joseph Sutton, and GI Wilson published the paper that introduced the term “fourth generation warfare,” they were speculating:

Is it not about time for a fourth generation to appear? If so, what might it look like?

They posed two broad alternatives, a technology-driven fourth generation (as was the second) or an ideas-driven (as was the third). While ostensibly neutral between the two, it is clear from the word count that they favored the second option and that something like “terrorism” would play a large role (although they admit that up until then - 1989 - it had been “largely ineffective.”)

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General Calls for Faster Action on Reliable Replacement Warhead

By Elaine M. Grossman
Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON - A top U.S. general is pressing Congress to accelerate plans for a study he said is crucial to the effort to field a new nuclear warhead (see GSN, Feb. 5).

Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, head of U.S. Strategic Command, told Global Security Newswire that without results from an as-yet incomplete design study of the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), he would be ill-prepared to advise the incoming president next year on how best to modernize the atomic arsenal.

The assessment is widely seen as a key step toward ultimately building the controversial warhead because it would flesh out details of what it would take to produce the new design.

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Nature of 4GW

Perhaps the primary difference between insurgency and 4GW — although both may use techniques like “terrorism” and guerrilla warfare — lies in their objectives relative to state governments.

An insurgency by definition is a rebellion, either to replace an existing government or, as in the case of the late unpleasantness here in the South, to to establish a new government on part of the territory of the old. Fourth generation warfare involves non-state entities, as does insurgency, but the groups waging it are transnational. They are willing to let someone else occupy the UN seat and pick up trash in the streets while they pursue other objectives. The relationship between al-Qa’ida and the Taliban government of Afghanistan is a case in point as are the relationships between most narcotrafficking groups and street gangs and the governments of the countries they operate in. I address this distinction in excruciating detail in IWCKI.

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The Generations of War Model and Domestic Policing

Dr Simon Newman
Senior Lecturer in Law
University of Westminster, UK

[Note: Dr. Newman has been kind enough to share some working notes he made for the London’s Metropolitan Police Department. It’s an excellent example of how that framework can help stimulate insights and creativity, which to me is the real purpose of models — Chet]

1st Generation - a culture of Order, “Line of Battle” and the parade ground, e.g., Napoleonic war. 1st generation entities emphasise order at any cost. WW1 tactics ‘walking into machine guns’ was probably the last gasp of 1st gen culture on the battleground.

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Doug Macgregor on the “surge”

An interview with Steve Paikin on Ontario public television.

Streaming video - takes about half an hour (you’ll need a good broadband connection, but well worth a few hiccoughs).

The Rule of Law

In the United States and in the developed world generally, we take the rule of law to be the foundation of our societies. The alternatives are usually thought to be gang/mob rule, anarchy, and a return to pre-civilized days (as in The Road Warrior).

Personally, I think there’s a lot of truth to this, especially if you want a functioning modern economy (It’s well beyond my competence to discuss alternatives, such as tribal societies).

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On War #253: Linearity

By William S. Lind

One of several dead hands the First Generation of Modern War lays on contemporary state militaries’ throats is linearity. Most state militaries both seek and expect linearity on and off the battlefield. Sometimes, this manifests itself in tactics that offer magnificent if unintentional tableux vivant. I recall a field exercise years ago with the Second Marine Division at Camp Lejeune where, rounding a bend, we found a lieutenant had built a perfect 19th century fortress wall across the road, complete with firing step. The Division Sergeant Major, in whose jeep I was riding, said, “My God, it’s the siege of Vicksburg!”

More often, linearity manifests itself in a military service’s culture, as a subtle but omnipresent mindset. It is easy to understand why this is so. Both on land and at sea, tactics became linear right at the beginning of the First Generation in the mid-17th century. In armies, that was when lines of infantrymen two or three deep replaced the square formations of the tercios. In navies, beginning with the British Navy in the Dutch Wars, the line ahead replaced the general melee. The two developments were causally related: the line ahead was adopted when generals took command of the British fleet under the Commonwealth.

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