Fifth Generation Warfare

While 4GW is primarily counterinsurgency warfare describe as “armed social work”, 5GW is an entirely different beast in many respects.

The nature of the 5GW is supposed to be a group of fighters who form a network. Their only common character is that they want to destroy the same thing, but their different reasons for doing so don’t affect the operation at hand. They use modern communication technologies to plan and direct their actions, then they disperse. The 5G beast doesn’t field armies or espouse a central ideal or idea. Worse still, by not losing, the enemy wins. The 5G war is about winning through political stalemate, instability, and economic stagnation or decline. This is warfare against economic success. With nothing to shoot at, how do you win? Without a rational idea to prove wrong, how do win hearts and minds?

5GW is the disaffected turning their hatred towards what they want, but don’t have. These fighters will use the lessons of 4GW and modern technology. The battlefield may become universal. Everything from  a Toronto water treatment plant, my bank’s computer system, and the Strait of Hormuz become the battlefield, and all at the same time. 5GW may originate with the current crop of Muslim terrorists and to some extent, narco-terrorists, but I doubt it will remain their province. This type of warfare just offers too many opportunities for a host of perverse sub-cultures — if they can make it work.

Responding with 3G type warfare won’t solve this problem. Genocide won’t eliminate this problem.  4GW techniques won’t make much of a dent in this problem. Current thinking indicates that until we find a global solution to this, risks of an outbreak of 5GW we will have to factor those risks into our planning and look for opportunities to become part of the solution, or to profit from the lack of a solution.

I see 5GW as the worst-case situation from an economic standpoint, even if we change our attitudes towards military service, security operations,  and international security.  Fear of 5GW is already reshaping our world and perhaps this fear will produce the dominant cost factor we face from this threat.

I’m not sure this type of warfare is really on the horizon, but certain elements of it have made an appearance. If 5GW comes to be, then the costs of trying to protect everything at once would be astronomical. In the an upcoming article I will explain the 5GW issues that are starting to shape policy today and their potential effect on the economies of the industrialised world.