William Lind: thoughts about 4GW, why we lose, and how we can win in the future

Summary: Twenty-five years ago, in October 1989, the Marine Corps Gazette published  “The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation”, by four active duty military officers and a civilian military historian. It explained that a new era of warfare had begun, sparked by the invention of nukes (rendering suicidal conventional war among major powers), brought to maturity by Mao (and improved by generations of success and failed insurgencies since then). We failed to learn how to fight these, as proven by our two failed wars after 9/11, the new bipartisan ones being launched now, and the future ones being prepared in Africa.

This series of posts will help you better understand our defeats and prepare you for what is to come. And, perhaps, help motivate you to join the effort to retake the reins of America. This is the second chapter, by guest author William Lind (the civilian co-author of Into the Fourth G). This is the first of two posts today.

Source: Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid


Thoughts on the 25th anniversary
of the publication of the original article on
the Four Generations of Modern War

By William Lind


Since the publication of the original article in the Marine Corps Gazette, three things have happened.

First, events have justified the article’s description of the Fourth Generation as war that escapes the state framework. The high-tech alternative, which became known subsequently by a number of buzzwords — the Revolution in Military Affairs, Transformation, Net-Centric Warfare, etc. — is not where war has gone. Most of the high-tech systems we continue to buy have proven irrelevant to fighting non-state forces. So far, at least, the F-22 has not shot down a single Taliban flying carpet.

Second, the theory of 4GW has been expanded and refined, a process that will continue. The most important addition to the theory has been Martin van Creveld’s book, The Transformation of War. Tom Hammes’s book, The Sling and the Stone, while sound on the first three generations, has brought confusion to much of the discussion of 4GW because it gets the Fourth Generation wrong. Insurgency is not a dialectically qualitative change in war. It is merely one way in which war has been fought for a long time. As van Creveld puts it, 4GW is not a change in how war is fought (though it brings such changes) but in who fights and what they fight for. That is a dialectically qualitative change, the biggest since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.

The third thing that has happened is actually a negative, i.e., something that did not happen. Despite overwhelming evidence that 4GW is the wave of the future (including four defeats of the U.S. armed forces by 4GW opponents: Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan), the U.S. military has not moved to prepare for it. It remains, and apparently will remain until covered by the lid of history’s trashcan, a Second Generation military. That is to say, it reduces war to putting firepower on targets.

Syria: you're next

The United States marine Corps did adopt Third Generation maneuver warfare as doctrine in the early 1990s, but the doctrine has remained words on paper. As Marines have said to me repeatedly since the FMFM 1, Warfighting, was published, “What the Marine Corps says is great, but it’s not what it does.”

The primary reason the American military remains stuck in the Second Generation, and intentionally ignores the Fourth, is money. At senior levels all that matters is the budget. So long as the budget stays high (and preferably grows) war does not matter. Losing wars, repeatedly, does not matter. As Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling wrote, “{A} private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.” That is a statement of literal fact, as the repeated promotions of senior field commanders who failed to higher positions, including service chief, demonstrates. All that matters is protecting the money flow.

That is institutional corruption, not merely monetary corruption but corruption of institutional purpose, on a grand scale. It presages an equally grand collapse, military, financial or both (I await both). It may take the American state with it, ushering in widespread 4GW on American soil.

The only way to revive the U.S. military as an institution with both interest in and competence at warfare is a massive purge of the senior leadership, uniformed and civilian, coupled with major budget cuts, larger reductions in the size of the officer corps and elimination of most contractors. The chances of that happening are the same as the chances of any other major reform program coming out of Washington. If you think those changes are more than zero, I own a great bridge up in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.


William S. Lind
William S. Lind

(2) About the author

William S. Lind s director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation. He has a Master’s Degree in History from Princeton University in 1971. He worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of Ohio from 1973 through 1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 through 1986. See his bio at Wikipedia

Mr. Lind is author of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook (1985), co-author with Gary Hart of America Can Win: The Case for Military Reform (1986), and co-author with William H. Marshner of Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda (1987).

In April 1995 Lind published “Militant musings: From nightmare 1995 to my utopian 2050” in The Washington Post. He speculated about a future in which multiculturalism had broken apart the USA: a second civil war, followed by a recovery of our traditional Christian culture led by a new country: Victoria (i.e., it adopted Victorian values). He’s expanded this into a book: Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation War, published under the pseudonym “Thomas Hobbes” (the theorist of the nation-state; author of Leviathan.

He’s perhaps best known for his articles about the long war, now published as On War: The Collected Columns of William S. Lind 2003-2009. See his other articles about a broad range of subjects…

  1. Posts at TraditionalRight.
  2. His articles about geopolitics at The American Conservative.
  3. His articles about transportation at The American Conservative.

(3)  Posts in this series about 4GW, after 25 years of 4GW defeats

(4) For More Information

(a)  To understand 4GW, I recommend starting with Lind’s “Understanding Fourth Generation War” (January 2004), “Strategic Defense Initiative” (November 2004), and “4GW is Alive and Well“ (May 2013).

(b)  Why 4GW remains important: we keep stepping into them: Keep fighting! We must not learn from our wars., 5 December 2013

(c)  About 4GW:

  1. Why We Lose at 4GW – About the two kinds of insurgencies.
  2. The War Nerd shows how simple 4GW theory can be.
  3. Theories about 4GW are not yet like the Laws of Thermodynamics.
  4. How I learned to stop worrying and love Fourth Generation War. We can win at this game.

(d)  Examples of 4GW:

  1. About the 4GW between India and Pakistan.
  2. 4GW in India – more people who want to watch the world burn.
  3. The 2 most devastating 4GW attacks on America, and the roots of FM 3-24.

(e)  Chuck Spinney explains 4GW: Chuck Spinney asks why we choose to lose at 4GW.

(f)  Chet Richards explains 4GW:

  1. About Fourth Generation Infections – Chet Richards explains the nature of outlaw organizations in the 21st century.
  2. Is 4GW magnifique?
  3. Is 4th generation warfare dead?

(g)  Solutions to 4GW:

  1. A solution to 4GW — the introduction.
  2. How to get the study of 4GW in gear.
  3. Arrows in the Eagle’s claw — solutions to 4GW
  4. Arrows in the Eagle’s claw — 4GW analysts.
  5. Visionaries point the way to success in the age of 4GW.
  6. 4GW: A solution of the first kind – Robots!.
  7. 4GW: A solution of the second kind.
  8. 4GW: A solution of the third kind.

(h)  How often do insurgents win using 4gW?

  1. How often do insurgents win?  How much time does successful COIN require?.
  2. Max Boot: history suggests we will win in Afghanistan, with better than 50-50 odds. Here’s the real story. — Boot discusses 7 alleged victories by foreign armies fighting insurgencies.
  3. A major discovery! It could change the course of US geopolitical strategy, if we’d only see it — The doctoral dissertation of Erin Marie Simpson (Political Science, Harvard) examines the past & present of counter-insurgency.  This analysis could change the course of American foreign policy, if we pay attention.
  4. A look at the history of victories over insurgents.
  5. COINistas point to Kenya as a COIN success. In fact it was an expensive bloody failure..

(5)  The Evolution of Warfare

By Chet Richards (Colonel, USAF, retired). Click to enlarge.

Evolution of conflict
Evolution of conflict, by Chet Richards

27 thoughts on “William Lind: thoughts about 4GW, why we lose, and how we can win in the future”

  1. I understand the source of Lind’s parting comment about the US military losing a 4GW war on American soil but I doubt it will happen anytime soon (next 50 years or more).

    The reason the US military does not care if it wins wars is because it works harder to keep support for the US military up in the US than it does to win the foreign 4GW wars. In many ways, you could say that the US military has been waging a successful psy-op campaign against the US people since the early 1990’s, and perhaps earlier than that. It is this success in the US that allows the foreign wars that we lose.

    Even if 4GW occurred in the US, the US military is well equipped to fight and win this war. For starters, it has been studying the citizens of the US intensely for decades as part of its psy-op. It knows the local power structures, where it can safely do a free fire zone and where it cannot. It understands, and is involved in, the economy; merely by being a disturbingly large percentage of it. This is one situation where, if the US military attempted to apply COIN, it would likely do pretty well.

    1. Pluto,

      “I understand the source of Lind’s parting comment about the US military losing a 4GW war on American soil but I doubt it will happen anytime soon (next 50 years or more).”

      I suspect you are thinking in a narrower way than Lind. First, losing does mean regime change or conquest. We lost in Iraq and Af without serious consequences. Second, 4GW is not limited to foreign foes. Use of force for political ends works just as well domestically, as we have seen so often in American history. Look to the future:

      1. Our elites smile at events in Ferguson, MO. They’ll cry if it pushes Blacks to try 4GW., 14 August 2014
      2. The protesters at Ferguson might have won, but choose to lose, 18 August 2014
  2. Thank you for posting. Sounds like something I’ve read on Mr. Lind’s “In the National Interest”. Agree indeed. Our only solution seems to be the most expensive solution … G2. And, lest we forget, there is no real money in permanent solutions.

    As Chet Richards would probably agree or has attested to, the bureaucracy’s flag officer corp, populated by careerist yes-men, has become dysfunctional seeking only to perpetuate itself, increase budgets and double-dip with a 6-figure contractor job. It’s all very sad knowing this while witnessing the worship we adorn them with.

    Off topic, but … The only reason I voted for Obama was because I felt he was of a generation not overwhelmed with the need to fight WW II again and as a result would kill fewer of ours and theirs. Thus far he has not jumped into Iran, Syria and Iraq (again) and seems to be resisting the howls for G2 warfare there. How long do you think he can hold out?

    1. Dessenter,

      (1) “Sounds like something I’ve read on Mr. Lind’s “In the National Interest”.”

      I attempted to link to most of Lind’s works. I don’t see anything in “The National Interest”. It’s not important but — if so, please give me a pointer so I can link to it.

      (2) “The only reason I voted for Obama was because I felt he was of a generation not overwhelmed with the need to fight WW II again and as a result would kill fewer of ours and theirs.”

      I disagreed with that in 2008, and do so even more strongly today. The SOFA agreement signed by Bush Jr got us out of Iraq, with little Obama could do about it. He substantially intensified the war in Afghanistan (the 2nd “surge”)and Pakistan. He tried to jump into Libya; domestic pushback limited him to bombing (and probably covert support). He tried to jump into Syria, but was checkmated by Putin and Assad (i.e., the chemical weapons deal). He’s massively expanded involvement involvement in Africa, laying the foundation for future wars. He’s crossed many lines — assassination of US citizens, use of the espionage Act to suppress journalists, initiated the first cyberwar (the Stuxnet attack on Iran, undeclared).

      he’s working now to get us into Syria, and is sending troops to Iraq. He has used every opportunity to push for war, and accomplished much (with a far less “promising” environment than Bush Jr had).

  3. I have made similar observations recently, that the USA is bad at war, not winning a war since 1945 (if we count the 1st Gulf War as a win then we are 1 for 5, a terrible winning percentage.)
    It isn’t that hard to criticize when the facts are so easy to see, i.e. no wars won since WWII, but offering workable solutions is the hard part that is being begged to be done.

    Mr Lind’s statement that “only” a purge of senior leadership will fix what’s wrong is too cynical and defeatist.
    Changing personnel would leave intact the IDEAS that are why we fail in war. Its our flawed PROCESSES for deciding when and where to go to war why we have had no victorious wars since 1945, and why we have left off unfinished the wars we had to begin.
    Problems feel personal but solutions are procedural.

    We live in a free country that is free because the common people can influence policy and law by expressing their views. If free expression were not a powerful influence on law and policy every dictatorship would allow it, but it is the power of free expression why freedom of speech is not allowed by tyrannies.
    We can tell our leaders what we think, and by hammering away at it incessantly and coherently, have a positive impact on how this nation conducts its wars.

  4. Pluto remarks “I understand the source of Lind’s parting comment about the US military losing a 4GW war on American soil but I doubt it will happen anytime soon (next 50 years or more).”

    As FM said, this is very narrow thinking. The growing mass of permanently unemployed and unemployable Americans, many of them African-American, find themselves forced to wage a 4GW against the U.S. police-prison-military-surveillance-torture complex merely in order to survive. Without a job, how do get online to apply for a job? You must mooch free wifi at hotspots, “theft of services.” Without a job, how do watch movies or TV? Downloading, “intellectual property theft.” Without a job, how do you put an operating system on your laptop when it crashes? Downloading again, more “intellectual property theft.” Without a job, how do you get your phone to work? Jailbreak the phone and download free or low-cost VOIP apps, more “theft of services.” Without a job, how do you live? In encampments and squats, more “destruction of public property” and “loitering.”

    With poverty now criminalized in the USA and debtors’ prison a new fact of life, an increasingly vast portion of the American population now find themselves de facto criminals, forced to wage 4GW merely in order to survive. As the numbers of this unemployed and unemployable population swell exponentially, soon enough the methods of 4GW will grow more sophisticated and more complex, sustaining a vast underground economy and eroding the legitimacy of the existing U.S. institutions. Who today considers police legitimate? They’re now mere rent-a-cops whose job is to enforce unenforceable laws against downloading, squatting in abandoned apartments, driving while black, being a impoverished student etc. Who today after decisions like Citizens v. United considers the courts legitimate? Their main function now has become to punish having the wrong skin color and making too little money. Who today considered our legislatures legitimate? Their main function now is to criminalize the few remaining ways the remnants of the middle class have of making a living. Who today considers our schools legitimate? The main function of K-12 schools is to act as surrogate prisons in order to accustom citizens to being inmates without rights; and the main function of higher education is to loanshark people’s life savings in a vast Ponzi scheme for debt which can never be discharged. So what’s left?

    When citizens no longer view their own society’s institutions as legitimate, the citizens turn into insurgents. Especially when their leaders have shown contempt for the rule of law, abandoning basic constitutional principles like the right to a trial before being executed.

    It all reminds me of Eric Frank Russell’s 1957 science fiction novel WASP.

    In that novel, a Terran agent plays on the paranoia and regimentation of an alien society to sow distrust and fear to the point where the society starts to fall apart. Like a wasp in a moving car, these tiny disruptions push the society to the point of collapse.

    Clearly America’s enemies have successfully started the process, and as a society we’ve taken the bait eagerly, destroying ourselves in absurd overreaction. As the crazed overreaction to 9/11 grows increasingly hysterical and ever more outlandish, ordinary citizens will join in to destabilize U.S. society as they recognize that this country no longer has institutions which enjoy social or political legitimacy.

    Mexico is coming apart right now in mass demonstrations and full-scale riots. How long till the same thing happens in America?

    1. Thomas: “Who today considers police legitimate? They’re now mere rent-a-cops whose job is to enforce unenforceable laws against downloading, squatting in abandoned apartments, driving while black, being a impoverished student etc.”

      Frankly, I consider the police to be a legitimate threat at any point when they intrude on my life. Their ability to use force and my lack of willingness to reply with force pretty much dictate the outcome of any encounter. What matters is whether or not I am willing to live within the system described by the government when the police are not around (ie. 99.99% of the time).

      You accurately point out that large segments of it have been corrupted, especially at the Federal level. This is not news, FM has been describing this and fighting it for some years. Yet I, along with roughly 330 million people choose to stay here and not take up arms against the government. FM may well call me a sheep for my choice but I disagree with that characterization.

      I have reviewed the value proposition of the combination of the Federal, State, and local governments, weighed it against the rather ominous trends of the future and have come to the conclusion that I am happier here than I will be anywhere else. I will do my best to slow the destruction of the second US republic but I no longer think it is possible to stop its destruction. What is important for me is to determine whether or not I will be able to survive and perhaps even prosper in the new regime. My tentative estimate is that I will be okay in the new regime.

      I share this thinking with you because I believe large segments of the US population have seen the writing on the wall to some degree or other (it is very large and hard to avoid, even if the media avoids it whenever possible) and have already come to the same conclusion I have. Some of them, through lack of information or foresight will be proven wrong as your article about debtors prison explains.

      But, between the extremely successful psy-op conducted by the US military, the relentless message from the mainstream media that everything is just fine in spite of all the problems they relentlessly report, the lack of appealing alternatives, and sheer inertia, I do not foresee anything other than token protests for at least the next 30 years and likely not for the next 50 years.

      Today’s Ferguson decision is likely to be in favor of the white cop. This is likely to kick off protests, but it will have less impact on the emerging leaders of the third regime than the Edward Snowden affair.

      You are correct that tens of millions of people are being marginalized within the US economy. I will add that I expect that only 30-40 percent of all jobs will pay a living salary in 20 years. But in my strange travels in the dark corners of the US, I find that people are, in general, doing okay. There is no motivation to change the system. I don’t know how or why they are able to be emotionally comfortable with their decision but I am satisfied that I am accurately measuring the situation.

      My best guess is that there is a shadow economy building that is not well measured by the government because the government stats (and I believe the stats are trying to be as accurate as possible) tell me that people should be screaming over what has happened over the last 30 years. And yet they are mostly happy and overweight instead. Perhaps we are looking at Bread and Circuses?

      1. Pluto,

        Thomas: “Who today considers police legitimate? They’re now mere rent-a-cops whose job is to enforce unenforceable laws against downloading, squatting in abandoned apartments, driving while black, being a impoverished student etc.”

        The situation is more complex. The police in America are regarded differently by geography and class. To many they are the Blue Line preserving order from the barbarians within; any force they use if justified. To others they are an army of occupation, inherently illegitimate. But in aggregate they are the second most respected major institution in America, following the military. We have FAR less confidence in our democratic institutions. For the ugly details see : http://fabiusmaximus.com/2014/06/21/gallup-confidence-in-institutions-america-69308/

    2. Thomas: “Mexico is coming apart right now in mass demonstrations and full-scale riots”

      I have not been following the situation in Mexico very closely but I would not describe the country as “coming apart” based on what I have heard.

      1. Pluto,

        Good catch. People tend to over-estimate the impact of social disturbances, believing quite normal ones are the start to The Revolution. IMO this results from not knowing history, ours or others’.

        Our history is 200 years of violent conflicts, from the Whisky Rebellion through the 1960s race riots (troops deployed in our inner cities every summer) to the LA riots — and no doubt beyond.

        Few other developed countries, or even less developed nations, can match our history for its sustained violence — one of the many demonstrations of society’s ability to continue with high degrees of internal conflict.

        This is not to say that Mexico definitely will not spiral out of control. There are many articles on the FM website following this story, which should be watched.

  5. “As van Creveld puts it, 4GW is not a change in how war is fought (though it brings such changes) but in who fights and what they fight for. That is a dialectically qualitative change, the biggest since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.”

    Disagree. The Peace of Westphalia was a European solution to the Europe’s Thirty Year War. Now, others outside of Europe are fighting their own Thirty Year (or more) war to determine their own peace. The only “change” is that we’re slowly starting to understand that Western solutions are not universal. The rest of the world has the own rights to self-determination.

    “It presages an equally grand collapse, military, financial or both (I await both). It may take the American state with it, ushering in widespread 4GW on American soil.”

    Agree that this is a possible, perhaps likely, outcome. There is a missing element to this logic, see below.

    “The only way to revive the U.S. military as an institution with both interest in and competence at warfare is a massive purge of the senior leadership, uniformed and civilian, coupled with major budget cuts, larger reductions in the size of the officer corps and elimination of most contractors.”

    Perhaps, but reforming the military will not save our nation, and it will not serve as a panacea for bad policy.

    Personally, what is missing in this argument is moral aspect that Andrew Bacevich writes about now and Rienhold Neibuhr began to explore in the 1960’s after he broke away from Cold War Liberalism.

    On May 14, 1966, Rienhold wrote the following to a friend, “Tonight our new President will explain to us why we have “Nixon’s War” instead of “Johnson’s war.” Our boys are losing their lives just the same. Ridiculous.”


    In the end, these wars are not our wars. Containment can suffice as a means.

    1. Mike,

      Thank you for this brilliant comment.

      At the end you touch upon the most important yet oft-forgotten element of 4GW: the moral dimension is more often dominant than in conventional warfare.

      That we have forgotten this (we assume, usually falsely that the people in our 4GWs see the US gov’t to be the morally superior party, in Ferguson and Falujah). Odd, since the moral dimension was decisive in our three great wars: the revolution, the civil war, and WW2.

  6. This is tremendous stuff and on point. Recommend reading some of Paul Virilio’s works. He has brilliant insights into the world’s and the USA’s current state of chaos. Try these: The Administration of Fear; The Information Bomb; War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception…Get’em at Verso or MIT Press…Here’s a quote that is interesting:

    “Temporal compression, as it is technically called, is an event that concretely modifies everyone’s daily life at the same time. In the face of this acceleration of daily life, fear has become an environment even in a time of peace. We are living in the accident of the globe, the accident of instantaneous simultaneity and interactivity that have now gained the upper hand over ordinary activities…With the phenomena of instantaneous interaction that are now our lot, there has been a veritable reversal, destabilizing the relationship of human interactions and the time reserved for reflection in favor of the conditioned responses produced by emotion… ”

  7. It is a shame that no one has really been analysing the Ukrainian civil war.

    I have been amazed at what happened, when a 2GW forces (Kiev Forces, KF for short) came up against a greatly outnumbered 3GW Novarussian Forces (NF for short).

    The 2GW KF got thumped totally. A stunning military victory for the NF, despite their numerical inferiority (20:1 at the beginning though the gap closed over time), had equipment shortages and, at first, were not a united force and of course have no air force.

    There are persistent rumours that the US had strategic control over the KF and even tactical control over (at least) some units.

    The lumbering KF repeated the same mistakes over and over again. Large forces sticking to the highways. Met RF resistance, put more forces into the battles, the RF gradually withdrew, The KF pushed forward, then the far more mobile NF encircled them into ‘caldrons’, then slaughtered them if they didn’t surrender.

    The NF destroyed the KF air force. Without resupply from Poland, Germany, etc Kiev would have nothing to put into the air by now. To achieve that the NF obviously had to use great skill and things like carefully set up ‘flak traps’.

    Later on the NF showed they were just as good on the offence as they were on defence.

    Additionally the KF repeatedly showed they were far more interested in ‘terror’ attacks on civilians than actual engagement of the enemy, even using ballistic missles. Typically halting outside of a town (if they hadn’t met the outnumbered and stretched NF first) then bombarding it, hospitals, schools, power, water, etc. If troops were sent into towns, they were usually the neo-nazi militias (who suffered appalling losses as no prisoners from them were taken).

    The NF forces fought mostly in the countryside (for rather obvious reasons) using superior all terrain mobility and 3GW tactics to hammer the numerically superior KF. They used their SRGs (sabotage, recon, groups, bit like the SAS) to great effect, both in sabotage (hit and run attacks to slow the NF down) and recon to find KF units to set them up for devastating artillery attacks.

    The NF eschewed 4GW tactics, such as guerrilla fighting in the towns, because they were trying to protect their homes. They also had to be very careful about not taking any large losses because of their numerical inferiority. In a very real sense they could have lost everything in just one large battle if it went wrong.

    All in all, one the most amazing military victories of all time.

    1. oldskeptic,

      “It is a shame that no one has really been analysing the Ukrainian civil war. ”

      Sad, but true. I have not even found reliable sources to describe what’s happening, let alone provide analysis. A civil war with extensive outside experience, minimal outside observers, none of the participants having the slightest interest in telling the truth. It’s a commonplace in history, but always amazing to experience.

  8. Yes it has been been available, just you have to dig for it (amongst all the ‘fog’ of course).

    I remember berating Ian Welsh in his (interesting) blog about that when he thought was all over, when the KF was ‘winning’ (and all the west applauded, we so love our neo-nazis) ….3 weeks later we saw the biggest military victory since Hezbollah against Israel.

    Bigger actually. Much bigger.And all Russia did was send in some experienced people. Equipment, close to zero..just people…

  9. Useful links that I followed. As usual, lots of ‘noise’ in the data, but clear patterns emerged over time.

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/ often some great stuff (links etc) in the comments as well.

    http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com.au/ arguably the premier site for following the Ukrainian war. You may, or may not agree with the analysis, but there is always a wealth of data and other links. Again, often good stuff in the comments as well.

    One of the best things about them is translations of Ukrainian and Russian documents, videos etc.

    http://cassad-eng.livejournal.com/ Again agreement with the analysis is optional, but again lots of good raw data.

    http://militarymaps.info/ I followed this very carefully during the active combat. You could see the patterns in the forces movements and conflicts.

    Hence I was not too worried about the last Kiev offensive, when people like Ian Walsh and even the Saker were getting pessimistic (and the western politicians and media was ecstatic) It was obvious that when the Novrussian forces finished up cleaning out the southern caldron (with horrific losses to Kiev) they would redeploy, while the forces that were there had already blunted the Kiev offensive.

    They were being set up (again) for ‘rope a dope’…

    Which they then did, with multiple ‘cauldrons’ of cut off Kiev forces….a total slaughter, which shook NATO to its core at their meeting. Kiev essentially lost its entire pre war army (they have had three call ups of their reserves and a fourth is rumoured/reported).

    http://www.liveleak.com/c/Ukraine Great for raw data videos. Lots of stuff (good and bad), requires analysis to get the best, but often surprising stuff comes up.

    Some of the best stuff was just simple things like interviews with the combatants on both sides. The Kiev ones were demoralised and continually complained. The NR ones morale was very high and they simply came across as far more competent.

  10. Should add Dimtri Orlov too, with some very pertinent (and sometimes hysterically funny) articles, like this one: http://cluborlov.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/how-can-you-tell-whether-russia-has.html

    “How can you tell whether Russia has invaded Ukraine? ”

    “….10. Kiev has surrendered. There are Russian tanks on the Maidan Square. Russian infantry is mopping up the remains of Ukraine’s National Guard. A curfew has been announced. The operation to take Kiev resembled “Shock and Awe” in Baghdad: a few loud bangs and then a whimper.

    Armed with this list, you too should be able to determine whether or not Russia has invaded Ukraine last Thursday.”

  11. By and large I agree. But I classify him in the ‘thought provoking writers’ group in my mind, there are several like that (Naomi Wolf or The Archdruid for example). Not so much I agree (or disagree) with them but they makes me think as they have an interesting take on things and sometimes hit the nail on the head, plus good writing is just good writing, always a pleasure to read it (especially if it is funny).

    They are not analysts per se, they are writers/journalist/bloggers, good ones too, but I find they can make me see a different angle that I had not thought about before when I do my own analysis of events. Never underestimate the power of good instincts, some of the most insightful people I have ever known don’t have an analytic bone in their body, but they get things right more often than not.

    So I personally cut them a lot more slack, than (say) I would a more detailed analytic writer where I would, like you, want far more data (etc) behind their argument/hypothesis/ report/etc.

  12. There is a horrible implication here that no one wants to touch, especially Americans. Russia’s main contribution in the Ukraine civil war has been some experienced people, officer and NCO level (forget all the equipment, tanks, etc nonsense). Estimates vary but 4,000-8,000 region seems about right which makes the total NF in the region of 30,000 now, lot less earlier of course (vs 200,000+ Kiev forces) at the start they were only a 1,000 or so of hastily put together volunteers.

    And the Russians have mastered 3GW……Which the west can’t do..

    The only western forces that have ever done that were Montgomery’s British and Canadian forces, where by early ’45 they could advance at rates, against heavy opposition, that was mind boggling…the ‘race to the Baltic’ was the premier example. Eat your hearts out Wehrmacht.

    Sorry Americans Patton’s ‘great’ advance was against zero German opposition (they all faced the British, Canadians and Poles) ..as soon as he hit it he reverted to attrition warfare.

    After the war Monty was ‘person non grata’ as the US grabbed all the credit and all sorts of things were ‘airbrushed’ out of history. And the British military establishment reverted back to the good old days of ‘nice chaps’ and Monty was never a ‘nice chap’..

    So we lost all all our 3GW skills and never regained them.

    The old Soviets learned and trained in 3GW (yes really, people have to study Soviet military doctrine) and the Russians have mastered it now. Not too bad at 4GW either if you look at Chechnya, one of the very few 4GW wars won by a State…and mostly won by very clever politics, the earlier hard fighting was, at best, a draw, bought some time at least. What Putin did was give them a stake in the Russian Federation and poured real money into them, real into the pockets of ordinary people money, not the elites (as the US does) . Now Chechnian Muslim volunteers are very valued members of the NF. This is despite the immense US and Saudi Arabian support for that war.

    And a lot of the US Govt wants a real showdown with Russia and is working very hard to achieve it…god help us all. Note Biden back in Kiev last week? That means a new offensive real soon, just like the original offensive came right after Brennan was there, Kiev got it’s head kicked in then, then Biden turned up and then they went on…to receive much more head kicking. (to be fair might have the Biden/Brennan order the wrong way around)

    Total Kiev Forces losses probably exceed what the US had in Vietnam… in only a few months. This is real war. Not the kiddy on stuff that the US/NATO has been failingly involved in for ages.

    1. Sorry OldSkeptic, like FM, I only read people who have verifiable source. Your speculations on support from Russia sound reasonable but remain nothing more than speculation and the Russians are justifiably famous for successful Maskirov operations. I would not be surprised if you were off by a factor of 10 in either direction, which would massively skew the analysis that followed.

      As for this being a “real war,” I’m not sure what that means. It is a civil war, which is always nasty but I don’t know anything more than that.

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