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January 26, 2007


Michael Tanji

“Generation” – to me - suggests a nod to evolution, which is kind of twisted if you think about it. Perhaps “strain” is more appropriate? You can defend against certain strains of flu/weapons/tactics but some variant or long-lost cousin can come around and bite you despite your best efforts. Of course “X Strain Warfare” doesn’t have the same ring (in a nod to marketing).

Funny that this comes along, since I was just thinking about how there seemed to be a need to revamp elements of the war-related lexicon to account for modern conflict: “Victory” no longer means a signing ceremony on Big Mo.


Well, this is about one of the silliest things I've seen in a long while.

Firstly, the military has pretty much rejected 4GW as a legitimate term for what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. They still call it an insurgency, which is only part of the problem.

Secondly, Lind and Co. have not exactly been greeted with open arms by the military establishment that matters in 4GW - the Army and Marines. I am guessing here, but I don't think Lind gets invited to talk with the upper echelons of the military very often. If the brass is using 4GW as an excuse to to pawn off their mistakes in judgement, planning and execution, well, that has nothing to do with 4GW and everything to do with finding a scapegoat. Tom Hammes is about the only 4GW strategist who gets any time with the senior leadership and MSM, and his version of 4GW isn't broad enough IMO.

Thirdly, the initial article was written in 19-freaking-89...18 years ago! Give me a break!

Finally, you are correct John. War has changed, even if you don't want to call it 4GW. What is occuring in Iraq and Afghanistan is nothing like Vietnam, which was really an insurgency that turned into a war of national liberation. There is no national liberation movement in Iraq or Afghanistan...when you have multiple groups fighting for different purposes or causes...the closest thing I can think of is Lebanon in the 80's.

4GW has some flaws, but it's still a very valid concept to understanding how warfare has morphed over the centuries. There are pieces of the very old blended in with the very new.

The Colonel is well off on this argument. If the military leadership was so into 4GW, why doesn't the term appear once in the new FM 3-24, the supposed bible of counter-insurgency?

John Robb

Andy, totally agree. It was a silly and ill informed shot. I don't see any 4GW thinkers in the MSM (ever).


You can accept 4GW as a rigid and deterministic theory of military strategy (actually, of history itself in the decline of the state aspect)or as a highly useful taxonomy for organizing and comprehending emerging patterns of warfare.

My money is on the latter.

John Robb

Lang appears to assume something that doesn't exist:

"All the advocates of "generational warfare " as a paradigm live by their contracts from DoD. Get it? pl"

This is total fantasy.


*waits patiently for his DoD paycheck*


Damn, somebody at DoD send me a check as well- LOL! I promise to spend all of it on blogging upgrades....

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