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October 09, 2006


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Not sure what you mean by "something worse" Each generation of war is proportionally less bloddy, less kinetic, and longer lasting (front to back) than the preceeding. In short, the evolution of war is the evolution of political strife away from war to something much more like crime. Likewise, each generation of war is more compatible with the government, law, and order.

5GWars will be fought, people will do, and in them we will win and lose. But it's not the end of the world, it's not the worse thing yet, and it's not the end game. Just another page in the unfolding of the years.


Hmm. I think that underplays the role of technology.

John Robb

"Not sure what you mean by "something worse" Each generation of war is proportionally less bloddy, less kinetic, and longer lasting (front to back) than the preceeding."

So WW1 was less bloody than the Napoleonic wars? WW2 was less kinetic than WW1? Not sure where you are going with this.


I feel that talk of 5GW is very premature. In my understanding, a minumum requirement for a switch from one generation to the next is that the new generation have some major victories over the old. In this case, major losses are developing for the US forces in Iraq and NATO in Afganistan, but those older generation forces are still holding the field.

Looking at the four generations theory, how long has the average generation lasted?

I think that "New organizational techniques (open source warfare). New methods (cascading system failures). Combinatorial attacks (moral/physical/psychological)." are just 4th generation forces getting their feet under them. Anything that could be classified as 5th generation war will have to be a paradigm shift above fourth, but I would argue that the 4th generation paradigm is still forming. It is much too early to talk about 5th generation war.

All that said, I'm open to hearing a coherent theory that puts 5GW in context with the other generations, and specifies the difference between 4GW and 5GW. I've yet to see this. Can anyone recommend a link for this kind of thing?

John Robb

Shloky, I do too (among other things).

John Robb

Ryan, I don't disagree with you. It is premature.

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(The blog ate my first comment, so here I go again).

WW2 was no more a pure 3GW than WW1 was a pure 2GW. Blitzkrieg was invented in the first war, while much of the second (especially the Sino-Japanese and Russo-German Wars) was essentially attrition.

A better comparison of the generations can be found in Korea. A war that began as 3GW on both sides ended as 2GW on both sides. 2GW forces are designed to destroy in detail, while 3GW forces are designed to flow around the hard points.


The generations are thousands of years old. Google "Jesusism-Paulism" for an example of a 4GW two millenia ago.


Re; premature

I'd say it is difficult to try and discern 5GW from 4GW more than than it is premature. I think we may be right on time in the sense of being at the start of the learning curve as the phenomena itself is starting to take shape. Or perhaps somewhat behind the curve but less so than we were with 4GW.

It can be argued -correctly in my view- that we do not even understand everything about 4GW. True enough. But the fact that great power militaries which are operating at the 2GW and 3GW levels are at the historical moment of finally being forced to recognize and adapt to try and counter 4GW. After Iraq and Lebanon I don't believe it can be wished away any longer by senior offcers who would like to fight the PLA over Taiwan. This means that 5GW is on the way, whether we are smart enough to game out the signs or not. Hence the speculative nature of this discussion.

Kind of like during WWI when the first storm detachments and tanks made their initial appearance as the harbingers of the 3GW to come. That was right on time but few ppl looked ahead (Rommel, DeGaulle, Patton, Eisenhower). Petersburg during the Civil War would have been premature even though some of the conditions were present.

John Robb

Dan, if that is true, then we have nothing to worry about.

Zen, then we are likely seeing it in some of the evolutionary behavior I have documented on GGs.

Larry Dunbar

"ultimately going to be the super-empowered individual"

How about a super-empowered organisms, or perhaps the Super-organism that Bar-Yam talked about awhile back? Does it really have to be something so small? Can't it also be so complex that we can't see it? Instead of super-empowering on the small scale, empowering on the large scale by moving resources instead of people? People are hardly aware of the resources from other countries that have enormous power in the USA, while being able to focus on a few million immigrants climbing over our fences could be an example.

"technologies of self-replication"

I agree, it could be a meme, but also a gene.

"collapse/kill on a grand scale"

Undoubtedly. Of course that doesn't mean power on a grand scale, only energy. The release of energy, or resources, could be very small, almost unnoticeable. The combined energy could be enormous. It truly sounds like what you are talking about is evolution and not revolution, the power of the exponent. In fact it might be the only way of identifying 5GW is by the exponent as in recruiter or replicator.

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