Summary: Today Chet Richards takes us into the heart of modern conflict, the 4GW techniques that will play a large role in shaping the 21st century (as 2nd generation warfare shaped the 19th century and 3GW shaped the 20th century. He shows us them in practice, as used by Venezuela.
While we write clever pieces of sophistry proving that there is no such thing as 4GW (“Fourth-Generation War and Other Myths“, Antulio J. Echevarria II), our less discerning opponents go right on applying it. And calling it by name.
You may have read GI Wilson’s latest on 4GW here at Fabius Maximus. If not, I strongly recommend it. He makes the point that leaders of al-Qa’ida, far from mocking the concept, studied it, unfortunately applied it, and may be continuing to develop it:
An article entitled “Fourth-Generation Wars” by Abu ‘Ubeid Al-Qurashi, appeared in the now defunct al-Qaeda affiliated Internet magazine Al-Ansar acknowledged that 4GW forms the foundation of al-Qaeda’s combat doctrine.
And now, hot off the press, we have a study from the US Army War College detailing how Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela has picked up on the idea of 4GW, is studying it, and is most definitely pursuing its implementation:
Excerpt from “Venezuela as an Exporter of 4th Generation Warfare Instability”
By Max G. Manwaring (Prof of Military Strategy, US Army War College)
Published by the Strategic Studies Institute, 19 December 2012
Phase Six: Directly, but gradually, confront a demoralized enemy military force and bring about its desired collapse—or militarily invade a failing or failed state. The objective in either case would be to impose (compel) appropriate 21st-century socialist governance.
Additionally, until the last moment in the third and decisive phase of the Latin American liberation process—when a targeted government is about to collapse—every action is preparatory work and not expected to provoke great concern from the enemy or its bourgeois allies. (p. 19)
As an aside, it appears that Gen Rangel Briceno, author of the above speech, understands the concept of shih, not unusual because Manwaring shows how Venezuelan doctrine is in complete harmony with the famous “Two Colonels'” paper, Unrestricted Warfare, by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui (links here)
Incidentally, what gives Chavez’s approach a 4GW flavor are elements like:
This type of conflict is not won by seizing specific territory militarily or destroying specific industrial or nuclear capabilities. It is won by altering the political-psychological-economic-social factors that are most relevant in a targeted culture. (p. 6)
For more on 4GW, after you’ve finished GI’s and Manwaring’s pieces, check out the Defense and National Interest archive at POGO.
Synopsis: “Venezuela as an Exporter of 4th Generation Warfare Instability”
Almost no one seems to understand the Marxist-Leninist foundations of Hugo Chavez’s political thought. It becomes evident, however, in the general vision of his “Bolivarian Revolution.” The abbreviated concept is to destroy the old foreign-dominated (U.S. dominated) political and economic systems in the Americas, to take power, and to create a socialist, nationalistic, and “popular” (direct) democracy in Venezuela that would sooner or later extend throughout the Western Hemisphere. Despite the fact that the notion of the use of force (compulsion) is never completely separated from the Leninist concept of destroying any bourgeois opposition, Chavez’s revolutionary vision will not be achieved through a conventional military war of maneuver and attrition, or a traditional insurgency.
According to Lenin and Chavez, a “new society” will only be created by a gradual, systematic, compulsory application of agitation and propaganda (i.e., agit-prop). That long-term effort is aimed at exporting instability and generating public opinion in favor of a “revolution” and against the bourgeois system. Thus, the contemporary asymmetric revolutionary warfare challenge is rooted in the concept that the North American (U.S.) “Empire” and its bourgeois political friends in Latin America are not doing what is right for the people, and that the socialist Bolivarian philosophy and leadership will.
This may not be a traditional national security problem for the United States and other targeted countries, and it may not be perceived to be as lethal as conventional conflict, but that does not diminish the cruel reality of compulsion.
About the Author
Dr. Max G. Manwaring is a Professor of Military Strategy in the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) of the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) and is a retired U.S. Army colonel. He has served in various civilian and military positions, including the U.S. Southern Command, the Defense Intelligence Agency, Dickinson College, and Memphis University.
Dr. Manwaring is the author and co-author of several articles, chapters, and books dealing with Latin American security affairs, political-military affairs, and insurgency and counterinsurgency. His most recent book is The Complexity of Modern Irregular War, forthcoming. His most recent article is “Security, Stability, and Sovereignty Challenges of Politicized Gangs and Insurgents in the Americas,” Small Wars & Insurgencies, December 2011 — gated copy here. His most recent SSI monograph is The Strategic Logic of the Contemporary Security Dilemma, Strategic Studies Institute, December 2011.
Dr. Manwaring is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, and holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.
For More Information
- Why We Lose at 4GW – About the two kinds of insurgencies
- How to get the study of 4GW in gear
- Theories about 4GW are not yet like the Laws of Thermodynamics
- About Fourth Generation Infections – Chet Richards explains the nature of outlaw organizations in the 21st century
- Is 4GW magnifique?, 22 June 2012 — By Chet Richards
- The War Nerd shows how simple 4GW theory can be
Also see this series about solutions to 4GW:
- A solution to 4GW — the introduction
- Arrows in the Eagle’s claw — solutions to 4GW
- Arrows in the Eagle’s claw — 4GW analysts
- Visionaries point the way to success in the age of 4GW
- 4GW: A solution of the first kind – Robots!
- 4GW: A solution of the second kind
- 4GW: A solution of the third kind – Vandergriff is one of the few implementing real solutions
Examples of 4GW:
- About the 4GW between India and Pakistan
- 4GW in India – more people who want to watch the world burn