Fourth Generation Warfare
Why Canadian Forces Excel
Tuesday November 27, 2001
"What we are looking at is chaos and ambiguity," says Air Vice-Marshal Brian Burridge, describing what senior officers in the military face in a world of low-intensity warfare and collapsed states. It is his responsibility to see that those who will be called upon to command in these circumstances are able to cope.
Comments about the Canadian Military:
From A Soviet Document: "One of the serious problems in planning against Canadian doctrine is that the Canadians do not read their manuals nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine."
A German General Officer: "The reason that the Canadian Army does well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the Canadian Army practises chaos on a daily basis."
Anonymous 1st Canadian Division Staff Officer: "If we don't know what we are doing, the enemy certainly can't anticipate our future actions!"
- Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security - The inquiry into the nature of nonlinearity, and the rise of Complexity theory has of necessity paralleled the development of the computer. Nonlinearity is extremely difficult to work with unless aided by the computer. Nonlinear equations were referred to as the “Twilight Zone” of mathematics. Beginning in the early 1960s, efforts to modify the weather indicated the severe limits to predictability in nonlinear environments, such as weather, itself. The self-organizing nature of nonlinearity, and the attributes of Chaos theory were well advanced by 1987, with the publication of James Gleick’s best-selling popularization Chaos: Making a New Science. In the mid-1980s, the Santa Fe Institute was organized to further the inquiry into complex adaptive systems. By 1992, Complexity theory also qualified for publication in the popular press with Mitchell Waldrop’s Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos, and Steven Lewin’s Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos. Nonlinearity was now in the public domain and universally accessible.
A number of modern U.S. defense thinkers, in retrospect, can be considered to be nonlinearists. Prominent among these are J.C. Wylie and the prolific, but unpublished, John Boyd of OODA loop fame. However, in the context of the time and vocabulary, this realization could only be implicit. An explicit articulation only began to emerge in the early 1990s. Two of the earliest pioneers are authors in this volume. Both wrote seminal papers, the significance of which was largely unrecognized when they first appeared. In late 1992, Alan Beyerchen’s “Clausewitz, Nonlinearity, and the Unpredictability of War,” was published in International Security, and Steven Mann’s “Chaos Theory and Strategic Thought” appeared in Parameters. The former work is a profound reinterpretation of Clausewitz’s On War, persuasively placing the work, and Clausewitz, himself, in a nonlinear framework. Mann, a Foreign Service officer, used self-organizing criticality, a concept associated with the Santa Fe Institute, to describe the dynamics of international relations and its implications for strategy.
These initial intellectual contributions were followed by important advances, each the individual efforts of talented Air Force officers. These included investigations into defense applications of Chaos theory (David Nicholls, et al.,1994, and Glenn E. James,1995.) Paralleling these efforts were those in Complexity theory applied to the determination of centers of gravity (Pat A. Pentland, 1993), and especially a robust and detailed methodology for identifying target sets (Steven M. Rinaldi, 1995). As a result, the confidence factor rose appreciably, as the body of defense-related literature began to assume the qualitative and quantitative dimensions for a discipline, or a contending body of thought. Primarily at the operational and tactical levels of war, nonlinear concepts were moving beyond the notional, to formulation and application.
- Tracking Terrorist Organizations Through Network and Link Analysis - Can software provide insights into cell-based terrorist organizations? Can software discover new links between entities based on existing information? Can software help visualize complex organizational networks using new metaphors? Can software automatically generate threat values and rank millions of entities in real time?
This site describes Sentinel TMS, a prototype software application designed to illustrate how to provid solutions to each of the above questions. In development for over a year, Sentinel TMS is built to apply algorithmic processing to a large dataset of entities and relationships with advanced link discovery techniques, and new visualization metaphors.
- Uncloaking Terrorist Networks - This paper looks at mapping covert networks using data available from news sources on the World Wide Web. Specifically, we examine the network surrounding the tragic events of September 11th 2001. Through public data we are able to map a portion of the network centered on the 19 dead hijackers. This map gives us some insight into the terrorist organization, yet it is incomplete. Suggestions for further work and research are offered.
- Pentagon wants to develop high-speed drone to launch attacks from U.S. - The Defense Department wants to develop a high-speed drone able to launch attacks anywhere in the world within two hours of leaving a U.S base.
- The Arsenal Ship and the US Navy: A Revolution in Military Affairs Perspective - This thesis examines one of the U.S. Navy's major capability initiatives aimed at addressing the changed strategic and technological environment since the end of the Cold War. This initiative is known as the Arsenal Ship. This thesis considers operational concepts for use of the Arsenal Ship; it examines some of the cost and technical issues that have been raided, and it reviews possible alternatives.
The thesis concludes that the Arsenal Ship is a viable platform for meeting the U.S. Navy's requirement for littoral power projection to meet the strategic and technological requirements of the 21st century. While there are limitations to the Arsenal Ship, the program is conceptually sound and the Arsenal Ship demonstrator Program should be pursued.
- Illuminating Tomorrow's War - The United States is midway through what may be called a revolution in military affairs (RMA). This revolution opened in the 1970s with the development and refinement of precision-guided munitions (PGMs), which can hit anything that can be located. It is likely to culminate with the multiplication and integration of the DOD C4ISR assets, thereby creating a well-populated Grid. In the process, the physical battlespace will become illuminated better than ever. As this occurs, conventional warfare will change from force on force to hide-and-seek. Hence the need for a Grid capable of illuminating the battlespace, a case that rests on five tenets:
- With precision weaponry, seeing a target is tantamount to being able to kill it. The guidance for such weaponry is potentially shifting from shooters or internal sensors to externally provided information.
- Defenses exist against PGMs, but the link between seeing and hitting is likely to strengthen over time.
- Detailed earth mapping and global positioning systems (GPS) have become important elements in locating targets. Access to GPS can be defended and can also be denied to adversaries.
- The growing power and variety of sensors mean things will be easier to see, data fusion (in the Grid) will become more important, and an architecture of distributed sensors may perform better (and survive longer) than one that concentrates on a few expensive sensors.
- The underlying technology, however, is available to all, which means the shift from force-on-force warfare to hide-and-seek conflict is not just a possibility, but a necessity.
- Future Warfare and the Decline of Human Decisionmaking - The military systems (including weapons) now on the horizon will be too fast, too small, too numerous, and will create an environment too complex for humans to direct. Furthermore, the proliferation of information-based systems will produce a data overload that will make it difficult or impossible for humans to directly intervene in decisionmaking. This is not a consideration for the remote science-fiction future. Weapons and other military systems already under development will function at increasingly higher levels of complexity and responsibility--and increasingly without meaningful human intervention.
- Knowledge-Based Warfare Implications - High-intensity land combat is evolving into a form conveniently labeled knowledge-based warfare, which is defined as warfare in which combat power is best concentrated through information transmission. We must make the distinction between evolution and revolution to illuminate what should be intuitively obvious: Many of the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) developed over the last six decades retain their utility, but we have reached a technological watershed from which new forms of war will flow. Determining which features of traditional warfare will hamstring and which will facilitate the execution of knowledge-based operations is the key to future battlefield victories.
- China's Secret Weapon for Information Warfare - Over the past 5 years numerous articles have appeared in Chinese military journals proclaiming the critical importance of winning electronic and information battles in "local war under high-tech conditions." In a handful of these articles, the authors consider using Special Operations forces (SOF) to attack command-and-control (C2) targets. Since at least 1997, SOF have carried out electronic warfare (EW) missions in a number of People's Liberation Army (PLA) large-scale exercises. During the same period, Chinese companies began to market man-portable EW systems, suitable for employment by SOF against C2 facilities. This article examines the PLA's vision of EW and its development of tactics for SOF to conduct EW missions.
- Vietnam:†A Complex Adaptive Perspective - Every military professional should become familiar with complex adaptive system theory.†Using cas theory to examine the Vietnam war will offer a perspective that emphasizes its qualitative aspects, its holistic nature and its nonlinear behavior.†Cas theory, when applied to the study of warfare, suggests organizational and doctrinal changes that exploit cas properties to improve a military organization's adaptive capability.
- Surveillance of Terrorist Networks - U.S. intelligence knew about two of the 9-11 hijackers, and their ties to al-Qaeda, over 18 months before the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Is it possible that tracking these two individuals and their network of contacts could have prevented the attacks on America?
- Network Centric Warfare - The entry fee for Network Centric Warfare is an infostructure that provides all elements of the warfighting enterprise with access to high-quality information services. What separates the future from the present will be the provision of nearly ubiquitous information services to all elements of the warfighting enterprise. These elements include deployed U.S. forces,
supporting forces based in the United States, and allied and coalition partners.
- Social Network Analysis of a Terrorist Network - We were all shocked by the tragic events of September 11, 2001. In the non-stop stream of news and analysis one phrase was continuously repeated -- "terrorist network." Everyone talked about these networks, but no one produced a visual. This a report by an organizational network consultant, who set out to map the network of terrorist cells that had so affected all of our lives. Using public information on the WWW, his aim was to uncover network patterns that would reveal how terrorists organize their covert activities.
- War and Chaos - At first glance, physics may not appear to share much with the social sciences. In fact, both disciplines are concerned to some degree with the creation and dissolution of order. The physicist, for example, might ask how ordered crystals form from disordered fluids and how the crystals later fall back into the disorder of liquids and gases. On the other hand, the social scientist might be concerned with the formation of international alliances and their collapse into the disorder of war.
Although the questions asked by practitioners of both disciplines appear to be similar, the methods each science uses to answer them differ. The physicist often has the advantage of working with systems where what is put in has a direct relation to what comes out. For this kind of question, the physicist can construct models that allow him or her to predict the future activities of the system in question under various conditions. It is the consistent relation between input and output that allows for predictability.
In contrast, when dealing with human systems, social scientists cannot assume a direct relation between input and output. In fact, human history is filled with instances where dramatic consequences have resulted from fairly minor actions. Or even more perplexing, identical actions can lead to dramatically different results, depending on the context. Such systems do not lend themselves well to the kinds of linear models that are so predictive in physics. Nevertheless, many other scientists have attempted to emulate the methods of the physical sciences, without much success.
- What Does Chaos Theory Mean For Warfare - There is evidence that warfare might be chaotic. First, strategic decision making, an integral part of war, has been found to be chaotic. Second, nonlinearity, which is a requirement for chaotic behavior, appears to be a natural result of Clausewitzian friction. Third, some computer war games and arms race simulations have been found to exhibit chaotic behavior. Fourth, previous work by the current authors applied several tests for chaos to historical data related to war. Those tests demonstrated that warfare is chaotic at the grand strategic, strategic, and operational levels. In this paper, we will discuss some important implications of chaos theory in the context of warfare.
- Network, Netwars, and the Fight for the Future - Netwar is an emerging mode of conflict in which the protagonists - ranging from terrorist and criminal organizations on the dark side, to militant social activists on the bright side - use network forms of organization, doctrine, strategy, and technology attuned to the information age. The practice of netwar is well ahead of theory, as both civil and uncivil society actors are increasingly engaging in this new way of fighting. We suggest how the theory of netwar may be improved by drawing on academic perspectives on networks, especially those about organizational network analysis. As for practice, strategists and policymakers in Washington and elsewhere have begun to discern the dark side of the network phenomenon - especially in the wake of the "attack on America" perpetrated apparently by Osama bin Laden's terror network. But they still have much work to do to begin harnessing the bright side, by formulating strategies that will enable state and civil-society actors to work together better.
- Shape Changing Robots In Advanced Defence Applications - The future applications of shape changing robots in the battlefield is not restricted by any kind of restrictions that have so far restricted standard machinery. For the first time it is possible to think of machines that totally automate the task of warfare. This is an extremely dangerous development for mankind because we are opening a door wherein all nightmares about technology being in control of man could become a possibility. Machines propelled with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and self experimenting systems with emergent behaviour is the fundamental problem we are facing.
- Aftermath: Systems Thinking, Sustainability and Terrorism - America, Afghanistan, Australia-all nations are more than mere collections of people; they represent cultures and dynamics that have qualities that go far beyond those of the individuals that reside there. Just as a whole is more than the sum of its parts, societies are more than the sum of their individual citizens. These whole cultures arise from the organizing relationships of the parts. (In fact, though, quantum physics shows us that there really are no parts at all. What we call "a part" is merely a pattern in an inseparable web of relationships.) When people or ideas or organisms or events are drawn together in unique combinations, something new is born with new qualities not present before; scientists call this synergy. The totality of this new bundle of combinations, this synergy, is a system.
- Terrorism, Nonlinearity & Complex Adaptive Systems Links - The events on 11 Sep 2001 were a tragic, but decisive, reminder of the emergence of a formidable new kind of "enemy" in the world; an enemy that is widely dispersed, decentralized and whose many destructive parts are autonomous, mobile, and highly adaptive. The need for developing new complex systems theory inspired analytical tools and models for understanding the dynamics of this threat (and for providing insights into how to combat it) has never been greater. If ever there was a time for complexity theory to come into its own within the military operations research community (much as mathematical search theory did in WWII), that time is now!
- The Mesh And The Net: Speculations on Armed Conflict In a Time of Free Silicon - Despite the waning of military technology competition, information technology, driven by burgeoning commercial markets, is likely to continue its rapid pace of development for a decade or two. Such advances are most logically deployed in distributed rather than concentrated form.
The influence of technology on conflict over the next several decades will be the result of a great irony. Just as the political motivation for developing military technology has declined, the information technology fungible to conflict is about to accelerate.
- The Coyote Reconnaissance Vehicle
- Iris Communication System - Manufactured by General Dynamics Canada, Iris is the Canadian Army's new communications system for the twenty-first century. Iris equipment has been progressively deployed to units around the world since 1998, working toward a complete transition by 2002. General Dynamics Canada has been the prime contractor and system integrator of the Iris project for over a decade, since April 1991. With Iris, Canada's Army is now equipped with one of the most advanced communications systems in the world.
- World Class System Integrators - A prime example of our systems integration capability is the Iris tactical communications project. It combines an array of combat radios, vehicle intercoms and computer links into a single, seamless communications environment. With over 1,300 different configurations of hardware in 150 different types of vehicles, the Iris communication system is the world's first fully-integrated and secure, combat voice and data network.
- Controlling The Digital Battlefield - Canada's leading defence electronics company Computing Devices Canada (CDC) has been responsible or the development and implementation of a communications system for the Canadian Army. IRIS is a highly efficient integrated voice and data communications system that facilitates the transmission of voice and data information between all soldiers and vehicles in a deployed ground force. Using CDC's new technologies and proven systems integration expertise, this initiative also has produced the additional dividend of a new, integrated and incremental solution to the challenge of effective C3 applications.
- battleWEB: Battlefield Management Training - With the introduction of battleWEB the Canadian Army finds itself at the forefront of the digitisation of the battlefield. Business development manager for command and control systems, Bruce Gilkes told ETS News that the system is now being offered to other countries as a solution to their digitisation requirements. At the heart of the digitisation process are so-called 'tactical internets' that connect battlefield users together through headquarters, vehicle and hand-held computer terminals. The introduction of battleWEB into the Canadian Army has progressed hand-in-hand with the fielding of the fully digital IRIS communications systems, that the Canadians use as the 'bearer' for battleWEB, although battleWEB is inter-operable with other bearer systems in use with allied forces.
- The Swarm Development Group - The Swarm Development Group (SDG) located at www.swarm.org, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing the state-of-the-art in multi agent based simulation through the continued advancement of the Swarm Simulation System and support of the Swarm user community.
- GPS Vulnerabilities - For centuries explorers have navigated by fixed stars. Today our increasingly expeditionary military navigates by orbiting emitters. Satellites enable flexible communication and precise navigation that were unimaginable a generation ago. Space-based technologies reach down into everyday military business so much that interrupted service immediately and fundamentally degrades operations. Adams describes various threats to US satellites, systems that use their signals and a military that depends on falling stars.
- Fourth Generation Warfare Is Here! - These facts bring the changing nature of war right into the living room. By declaring war on the Al Qaeda network of terror č a non-state globalization phenomenon č America and the nation-state system formally recognized they were in a new era. The modern nation-state system was established in 1648, when the Treaty of Westphalia ended the wars of religion known as the 30 Years War and granted the state a monopoly on the use of organized violence. Since Westphalia, three generations of war evolved out of the violent clashes of nations: (1) Classical nation-state war culminating in the Napoleonic Wars, (2) the industrial wars of attrition (the American Civil War through World War I), and (3) maneuver warfare (based on infiltration tactics, Blitzkrieg, and decision cycles) which emerged after World War I.
Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) changes everything. It pits nations against non-national organizations and networks that includes not only fundamentalist extremists but ethnic groups, mafias, and narco-traffickers, etc., as well. Its evolutionary roots may lie in guerrilla warfare, the Leninist theory of insurrection, and old fashioned terrorism, but it is rendered more pervasive and effective by the technologies, mobilities and miniaturized instrumentalities spawned by the age of computers and mass communication.
- Fourth Generation Warfare - Roughly speaking, "fourth generation warfare" includes all forms of conflict where the other side refuses to stand up and fight fair. What distinguishes 4GW from earlier generations is that typically at least one side is something other than a military force organized and operating under the control of a national government, and one that often transcends national boundaries.
- Defense and the National Interest / Defence and the National Interest - Best web site there is on how to fight future wars, not the last one. If your goal is to move from 2nd generation warfare through 3rd GW and prepare for 4th GW, this site is the place to be ≠ Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan U.S. Navy (Ret.).
- The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation - If we look at the development of warfare in the modern era, we see three distinct generations. In the United States, the Army and the Marine Corps are now coming to grips with the change to the third generation. This transition is entirely for the good. However, third generation warfare was conceptually developed by the German offensive in the spring of 1918. It is now more than 70 years old. This suggests some interesting questions: Is it not about time for a fourth generation to appear? If so, what might it look like? These questions are of central importance. Whoever is first to recognize, understand, and implement a generational change can gain a decisive advantage. Conversely, a nation that is slow to adapt to generational change opens itself to catastrophic defeat.
Our purpose here is less to answer these questions than to pose them. Nonetheless, we will offer some tentative answers. To begin to see what these might be, we need to put the questions into historical context.
- The Evolution of War: The Fourth Generation - The move toward fourth generation warfare is occurring in parallel with the move into the information age - i.e., with the political, economic, and social changes affecting society as a whole - and the essential characteristics of this new form of warfare have been clearly illustrated in recent conflicts.
If we look at the development of warfare in the modern era, we see three distinct generations - Third generation warfare was conceptually developed by the German offensive in the spring of 1918 - Is it not about time for the fourth generation to appear?
- A New Kind of War - This war will not necessarily be one in which we pore over military targets and mass forces to seize those targets. Instead, military force will likely be one of many tools we use to stop individuals, groups and countries that engage in terrorism.
Our response may include firing cruise missiles into military targets somewhere in the world; we are just as likely to engage in electronic combat to track and stop investments moving through offshore banking centers. The uniforms of this conflict will be bankers' pinstripes and programmers' grunge just as assuredly as desert camouflage.
This is not a war against an individual, a group, a religion or a country. Rather, our opponent is a global network of terrorist organizations and their state sponsors, committed to denying free people the opportunity to live as they choose. While we may engage militarily against foreign governments that sponsor terrorism, we may also seek to make allies of the people those governments suppress.
- War Without Rules - (Article based on book by two Chinese colonels "Warfare Beyond Rules: Judgment of War and Methods of War in the Era of Globalization".)
Military action should not define the complete meaning of "war"; it is just one dimension of war. According to the authors, the American Revolution in Military Affairs comes close to constituting a revolution in military thinking, but it is too focused on military technology. The revolution cannot halt at the level of new technologies and system reforms or other material changes. Genuinely new thinking must lie at the heart of a revolution - and in that, the Chinese must not fall behind.
Geographical security is an outdated concept, the authors argue, because threats to national security may not come from cross-border invasion, but from non-military actions. Definitions of security must now include geographical, political, economic, resource, religious, cultural, data, environmental, and near-earth space security.
- Al Qaeda Training Manual - Information derived from the AL-QAEDA TRAINING MANUAL reveals that AL-QAEDA operatives are instructed to provide photographic, mapping, and other related intelligence for planning terrorist operations.