The Underwire blog at Wired.com recently posted an article (pretty funny) that tripped my 5GW radar. The article involved the NetLife Research Bad Useability Calendar and June’s entry (seen to the right) referenced somebody I had, admitted, not heard of; BJ Fogg. I don’t know what persuasive design is but it sounds kinda 5GWish to me.
(Heavy linking to follow. All links expand greatly on the topic)
Dr. BJ Fogg founded the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University and is the creator of the Fogg Behavioral Model (FBM). He also has published two books about the intersection of persuasion and computer technology:
Dr. Fogg calls this intersection “Captology” and it is the centerpiece of his research and primary application of his model.
Captology and the Fogg Behavioral Model seem to have a strong resonance with the nuts-and-bolts and the hows-and-whys of Fifth Gradient Warfare Theory in particular and XGW in general. It seems mainly to be applied to social media at this point but for a 5GWist that is a very attractive form of leverage for the manipulation of a target actor. I am going to have to make it a point to track down at least one of his books. Until then I will have to settle for reading his 2009 paper about the Fogg Behavioral Model. Further study will have to determine how closely 5GW and Captology/FBM really intersect.
A bit of Recommended Viewing as well that touches on social media:
Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History
by John David Lewis
” The goal of war is to defeat the enemy’s will to fight.”
This is a very compelling statement, at least it is for me. In fact, it compelled me to track down the book and find out the context behind that statement. Essentially, John David Lewis argues that wars may only be completely, definitively and finally ended through complete and overwhelming victory, usually achieved by the side holding the moral high ground gaining the resolve to go on the offensive until the enemy’s will to fight is broken and the enemy leadership submits to an unconditional surrender. This is not a “might makes right” argument, though it is undoubtedly hard for the weaker antagonist to decisively win a war no matter how strong their moral position is, but rather an argument that those with a moral and positional (in relative strength) superiority should not restrain themselves in war but continue to prosecute that war until an unequivocal decision is reached, asserting their will and moral superiority over the will of the enemy. He argues this premise through examples of six different wars throughout Western history.
The Greco-Persian Wars 547-446 BC.
The Theban Wars 382-363 BC.
The Second Punic War 218-201 BC.
The Campaigns of Aurelian 270-275 AD.
The End of the American Civil War (focusing on Sherman’s March to the Sea) 1864-1865 AD.
The End of the War in the Pacific of World War Two (focusing on the employment of the atomic bombs over Japan) 1945 AD.
I have issues with this book. There are assumptions, suppositions and historical statements made within it that I expect raise large amounts of debate and argument among students of history, but that isn’t my issue. The author’s writing style swings disconcertingly (to me) between dry, academic prose and almost conversational lecturing laden with opinion and supposition, but that isn’t my issue either. My issue is that this book was published at the beginning of 2010 yet its argument became largely irrelevant at the end of the Cold War. All of the ideas about ending conflicts contained in Nothing Less Than Victory presuppose state-on-state warfare where the defeated government submits to the victor, and the defeated people follow the lead of their government in admitting to that defeat. This book has undeniable utility for a student of history, but can only be applied in a historical context. For the student of modern warfare, of warfare in today’s world of non-state actors motivated by ideology and resentment, willing to resort to insurgency and terrorism to achieve their goals, this book has very little utility. In fact, following its tenets may well be incredibly counter-productive in today’s conflicts.
” The goal of war is to defeat the enemy’s will to fight.”
As hard as I found it to finish this book, I still find that statement compelling. I don’t really know if you can truly distill the goal of war down to such a simple, provocative, statement but it certainly merits further consideration. Perhaps a study of that statement in XGW terms would have more utility for the student of warfare in today’s world.
By now everybody knows about Wikileaks. If you don’t you have obviously been living in a state of ignorant bliss and you probably stumbled upon this site looking for a funny de-motivational poster about a Llama (Go ahead and follow this link if this is the case. Trust me, if you have managed to avoid the Wrath of Assange, then good for you. We should all be so lucky).
Anyway, without discussing the individual “leaks” I was thinking the other day about their validity. We are talking about thousands and thousands of electronically stored documents that were supposedly stolen and then given to Wikileaks in order to create some sort of radical transparency that revealed what the Army was shooting at, what State Department officials thought about foreign leaders and what places might be really good targets for terrorists. Those that I have seen seem to be plausible in that they pass the smell test. They seem like they contain information and opinions that might come up at a State Department water cooler, or planning session. But are they real? What makes us think that any of this legitimate? Is it the sheer volume that lends weight to their truth? Is it that the slightly scandalous remarks (that are only scandalous if they appear in public, but are gossip-as-usual in an internal e-mail discussion) would never have been allowed into the public eye by government media massagers? Why should you trust Wikileaks as a truth broker?
These are electronic documents that have been, for the most part, removed from their original context. They are a collection of endlessly alterable electronic bits that somebody committed a crime to put into the hands of an organization that may or may not have an agenda. What if only one of the thousands of leaked documents is demonstrably, court of law, defying the laws of the universe, provably fake? What does that do to your trust level for the rest of the documents if any of them could be subtly, or not-so-subtly altered? What if half of them are verifiable, but the other half are ambiguous in their provenance? If none of them can be truly verified as genuine what if ten percent of them are altered or outright manufactured? What if all of them are pure, unadulterated, fiction? So what that the government hasn’t denied that any of these documents are fake. Would you really believe them if they did?
The bottom line is that information, raw information, is endlessly mutable. Everything you believe about what you observe depends upon all of the preconceptions you carry in your personal orientative baggage. If you want to believe something, even in the face of evidence against its truth, you will find a justification to go on believing it. That mechanism is hard-wired into our brains. Without a context (and sometimes even with context), you will create a context for what you observe.
Fifth Gradient Warfare (5GW) doctrines are premised upon the manipulation of Observation in order to create specific effect on a target’s actions. 5GW actors spoon feed information to a target that is intended, by design, to trigger a specific context for that information in the mind of a target in order to cause that target to act (or not act) in a particular manner. To my thinking, the idea of transparency is a mechanism to promote trust in the validity of information (or lack thereof) that is fed into Observation. It is fundamental in a 5GW world to realize that nothing is inherently neutral. All actors have agendas, bias, preconceptions and will strive to promote their point-of-view over all others.
Pakistani Media Publishes Fake Wikileaks Scoops by Joshua Keating
The only problem is that none of these cables appear to be real. The Guardian, which has full access to the unreleased WikiLeaks cables, can’t find any of them. The story, which ran in four Pakistani newspapers, isn’t bylined and was credited only to Online Agency, an Islamabad-based pro-army news service.
It’s actually surprising this hasn’t happened yet. The vast majority of the cables are still unreleased, but the newspapers which have access to them have often reported on some of the more salacious details before the original cables are actually available. (Take for instance, the famous “Batman and Robin” description of Putin and Medvedev, which appeared in newspapers days before the actual cable was available).
So, it’s pretty easy to just make up cables to serve your political agenda. If the Pakistani forgers had been more sophisticated they would have invented quotes or even mocked up fake cables rather than just paraphrasing. This, in my opinion, is an argument for just releasing the full archive now rather than trickling them out at the newspapers’ pace. It will be a lot easier to fact check false claims if we no longer have to rely on the Guardian as WikiLeaks’ gatekeeper.
“The Catch” is, from here on, the heading and category for “Recommended Reading” posts here at Red Herrings.
Recommended reading from Small Wars Journal:
The Cognitive Dissonance of COIN
Right Doctrine, Wrong War
by Jason Thomas
“The psychological investment in COIN is now so deep that the cognitive dissonance would be too great to change course or admit COIN is the right doctrine for the wrong war. Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that despite contrary evidence, people are biased to think of their choices as correct. Like climate change, so much has been invested in counterinsurgency with huge reputations at stake, that anyone who challenges COIN in Afghanistan could be labeled a COIN skeptic. No matter how much we try to win the hearts and minds, no matter how many millions of dollars is spent on development and regardless of attempts to improve governance and eliminate corruption, the socio-cultural ecosystem of Afghanistan does not respond to the doctrine of counterinsurgency. While the pockets can be won the heart and minds in Afghanistan will always remain notoriously capricious.
There are many reasons to continually question COIN from every angle, but the two this paper is concerned with are i) whether COIN could be the right military doctrine being applied in the wrong campaign; and ii) preparing for the next major unconventional war – as is often the case in political campaigns and war, we tend to find ourselves fighting on the issues, theories or practices in the last campaign.
This paper will attempt to “play the ball and not the man” by pointing to the range of reasons unique to Afghanistan on top of self-imposed obstacles that reinforce the hypothesis of right doctrine, wrong war.”
All in all, a thought-provoking paper that is well worth a read even if you don’t agree with the author’s argument. Personally, I don’t think COIN is the wrong doctrine for Afghanistan. At least, not all of Afghanistan. If the Taliban is seeking to create a parallel, non-secular, (Pakistan aligned) government that usurps the government of Kabul. That makes it an insurgency. The problem is using COIN in Afghanistan is that it is being used across the board, even in places where the Taliban isn’t active. If there isn’t an insurgency, you can’t wage a counterinsurgency. Personally, I think the disconnect about using COIN as the go-to doctrine of the U.S. forces, comes from an inflexibility of practitioners to have multiple doctrines. Everything is COIN because counterinsurgency is the sexy buzzword of the moment. However, COIN is not an anti-terrorism or homeland security doctrine. If you are chasing Bin Laden, you shouldn’t be using a COIN doctrine.
Actually, what I found most interesting about the article were the author’s 6 points for adapting COIN for future campaigns. I felt they had a great deal of 5GW resonance.
“The following are suggestions for improving the adaptability of COIN for future campaigns:
1. Stress test COIN and other military doctrines against a range of insurgent scenarios taking place in potential host countries – what is unique about the cultural and tribal dynamics.
2. Anticipate the next host nations and begin a coordinated, international effort to limit the opportunity for the global jihadists to re-base themselves (Australia has done a good job with its intense support of governance, security and development initiatives in Indonesia) – almost an interntional version of COIN.”
3. Develop sophisticated social networking and internet countering-platforms devised by and run by maintstream, globally recognised and respected Muslim organisations.
4. Intesify the global ‘hearts and minds’ campaign to convince young, mobile and increasingly sophisticated Muslims that the West is not a threat to their belief systems. This must be coordinated at an international level across governments and non-government actors.
5. Identify communications strategies and tactics to undermine the jihadists perceived legitimacy in the minds of eye of mainstream media. Every time the insurgents claim ‘civilians have been killed by US forces’ this is treated as fact by the media.
6. Avoid seeking a generic, off-the-shelf, model of COIN devised from previous campaigns to be applied to the next campaign.”
All six of these points are in line with 5GW thinking. First, working to trigger established rule-sets of a target population’s Orientation by feeding them information in specific context, through their own prefered information channels, is the basis of Fifth Gradient doctrines. 5GW is also inherently strategic in scope, meaning that anticipating the next hot-spot and preemptively targeting it with 5GW operations is required. Above all, adaptability is a hallmark of, not only 5GW, but XGW itself. A basic tenet of XGW is to create a specific doctrine for the situation at hand that is X+1 of the doctrine being used by your opponent, there is no such thing as an “off-the-shelf” doctrine.
Ned Ludd has had his day!
Trees have died!
Ink has been spilled!
The paper book edition of The Handbook of 5GW has arrived!
I anticipate that with the launch of tree-based version of The Handbook of 5GW, some confusion might arise about what exactly 5GW is and how it works. Honestly, the confusion already exists, even in the pages of the Handbook. However, I thought I would try to at least give a general sense of 5GW from my perspective.
First of all, the term 5GW.
Depending upon who are you are reading and at what time it was written 5GW can either mean Fifth Generation Warfare, or Fifth Gradient Warfare. The origin of Fifth Generation Warfare is the continuation of a concept that warfare falls into four basic “generations” put forward by William S. Lind, Colonel Keith Nightengale (USA), Captain John F. Schmitt (USMC), Colonel Joseph W. Sutton (USA), and Lieutenant Colonel Gary I. Wilson (USMCR) in an article for the October 1989 Marine Corps Gazette entitled “The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation“. I won’t summarize the article, you should read it for yourself. In any case what the article envisions, love it or hate it, is very thought-provoking.
The problem with “generations”.
So, back at the beginning everyone exploring the concept used the term “generations” including myself. The very earliest entries in the D5GW category here at Red Herrings (cross-posts from the now defunct group blog Dreaming 5GW) will all speak in terms of generations. As implied by “generations” it seemed logical that there would be a fifth generation to follow the fourth, only one problem. Very early on Lind declared that there was no fifth generation, at least not yet, and not for the foreseeable future. But wait, how then can there be a book about 5GW? Simple answer, lots of people ignored Lind and went right on formulating designs for 5GW, imagining shadowy conspiracy and techno/nano/bio armageddon. One major problem with that. He was right, as far as the “generations” concept from “The Changing Face of War” is concerned, there can’t be a fifth generation because everything forseeable falls into the fourth generation.
Why? Good question.
Models and Frameworks.
For clarity sake I refer to Lind’s generational model as the Generations of Modern Warfare (GMW) model. The reason why GMW can’t contain a fifth generation is because GMW is a historical model. You can’t go back to the Battle of Thermopylae and ask what generation the Spartans fall under because they are from well before the Peace of Westphalia where Lind begins the GMW model. They are before the first generation, so they can’t be considered under the terms of “Modern Warfare” from GMW.
Think of it like the difference between an Atari 2600 and an Xbox 360. Arguably the Atari is 1GW and the Xbox is 4GW. Where then is a fifty year old pinball machine? Exactly.
Essentially, what theorists were trying to do with GMW was use it like a framework; a tool for classifying types of warfare. Sadly, GMW doesn’t / can’t work that way. I know, I tried. However, once the fact that it couldn’t became apparent, it opened the door for the creation of a framework, a descendant of GMW perhaps, that could be used to classify warfare. This framework is known as XGW, and instead of generations it has “gradients.” Follow the link so I don’t have to summarize what XGW does. I know I wrote it. I should be able to summarize it, but this is getting long enough as it is and I haven’t even gotten to how 5GW works.
Ok, so how does Fifth “Gradient” Warfare work?
For the moment ignore all the scary spooky imagery of Shadow War, Invisible War, Ghost War, Secret War. It either sounds good to marketing people, or elicits a ‘yeah right’ response from people who know better than to believe the marketing. 5GW uses all available leverage to manipulate and influence (affect) to create second and third order effects leading to a desired outcome. Essentially affect for effect, or contextual warfare. The reason 5GW has all those cool sounding names attached to it is because if done right, secretly / from the shadows, those influenced and manipulated will never even realize they have been manipulated at all. Those targeted by 5GW will carry on, making choices and decisions in their best interests (as they see it), without ever knowing that the information coming to them, their Observation (See John Boyd’s OODA), has been messed with, leading them in a specific direction.
Magicians and Grifters.
The best way I know of to explain 5GW is to speak in terms of magicians and grifters. When you go to a magic show, a good magician will mess with your Observation. Magicians use sleight-of-hand, misdirection, and a host of other tricks to do something you don’t expect. Happily, their purpose is mainly to entertain, though they have been known to turn their talents to other purposes (See: Jasper Maskelyne). A magician’s magic works because we believe there is nothing up their sleeve, in the hat, under the table. We don’t see the right hand because we are too busy paying attention to the left hand, or the pretty girl. A grifter, or confidence man, while using a slightly different repertoire of skills, plays upon that very same belief mechanism, putting you in a situation where appearances (Observations) lead you to believe something that is false or misleading because you are too busy being helpful, or thinking about spending that crisp hundred-dollar bill.
The thing is we want to believe in ourselves and our own abilities to think and act. Also, we really don’t like to feel like we got suckered. This is why many 5GW theorists think that a 5GW campaign, even if poorly executed and discovered, would be laughed off as some sort of wild conspiracy theory should it come to light.
Hey wait! Shenanigans!
Fifth Gradient WARFARE? None of this sounds anything remotely like WARFARE!
Ok, you caught me. It really isn’t warfare. So why do we keep calling it that? Honestly we keep calling it that because when we 5GW theorists started talking about this stuff we were thinking in terms of GMW, hence warfare. 5GW was the shorthand we all used and it just stuck. I don’t think there is any way to get rid of it now without really confusing people.
The other answer to the warfare/ not warfare question is that when the XGW framework was created, it was broadened to include not only warfare, but conflict and confrontation of all kinds. The lower the gradient a doctrine fits into, the more it will rely on the use of kinetic force, and the less it uses non-kinetic force. Likewise, the higher the gradient the less kinetic force, the more non-kinetic force. That makes 5GW very non-kinetic. There are also considerations that the higher the gradient the more strategic in nature actions are, the more indirect the effects are, and the more effective against lower gradient doctrines a practitioner should be, but those either need posts of their own or already have them.
One really good example, though, is insurgency and counterinsurgency. Classic guerilla insurgency is generally thought to fall into the fourth gradient or 4GW. Counterinsurgency, in general, falls into the fifth gradient. Interestingly, 5GW you can watch happening on the nightly news, but that is fodder for another post. Insurgency is, on the whole, more kinetic than counterinsurgency. IEDs, RPGs, kidnapping, assassination and fear being the insurgent’s weapons. As such, there is much more of a reliance on threat, intimidation and force to effect a population. Counterinsurgency, on the other hand, is kinetic only as a last resort. Its weapons are cups of chai, relationships, jobs, soccer balls, electricity, security. Often times, the last thing you would want to do is pull a trigger, or kick down a door, though, in the interests of security that may occur. The counterinsurgent had better then be following a clear process, act with restraint and be aware of the consequences of mistakes.
Wrap it up already!
I hope this in some way helps. Really, you should read the Handbook. My view is but one of many and the Handbook is chock full of really, really smart people writing about something that is really interesting in its implications from all sorts of points of view.
Edited by Dr. Daniel H. Abbott a.k.a. TDAXP
(and containing a chapter authored by Yours Truly)
This is not a review but rather an announcement of the official launch of the Kindle edition of The Handbook of 5GW.
I had the honor of being one of the contributors to this book. My chapter deals with how, in light of the events of 9/11, I found myself drawn into a discussion of a form of warfare that, I envisioned, would provide the doctrine to combat the methods and means of those who had attacked the United States on that fateful day. I would like to think that I have had a role in shaping and expanding that discussion into a concept of even greater significance and utility.
From the Amazon description:
“The successful application of the Fifth Generation of Warfare (5GW) is “indistinguishable from magic” (Rees 2009, following in the spirit of Clarke’s Law, propounded by the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey) “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”). The Fifth-Generation warrior hides in the shadows, or in the static. So, then, how can analysts and researchers study and discuss 5GW?
Other questions also demand answers. What is the xGW framework, which many theorists use to describe 5GW? What alternatives to the xGW framework exist? What 5GWs have been observed? What are the source documents for the xGW framework? What is the universe of discourse that the xGW framework emerged from? Why bother trying to understand 5GW?
This handbook attempts to provide systematic answers to these questions in several major sections, each of which is written by many contributors. While this handbook records many different voices of 5GW research, it speaks with one voice on the need to understand 5GW, the fifth gradient of warfare.”
As a teaser, an iteration of my Framework for XGW appears in my chapter.
My posts on 5GW, many from the sadly disappeared (reactivated!) Dreaming 5GW, can be found under the D5GW category here at Red Herrings. Other posts on XGW in general, and those written after the demise of Dreaming 5GW, are found under the XGW category.
A distraction and digression of the amusing kind: Citizen Fouche’s sales pitch for The Handbook of 5GW is not to be missed.
Cross Posted at Dreaming 5GW
When considering the use of torture within the framework of XGW it becomes clear that torture has real utility at only three gradients of doctrine.
0GW – Confrontation and Conflict at its most basic level is an expression of natural selection. This genetic imperative is the principle behind any doctrine that is essentially the projection of Force for the survival of an individual organism.
When considering torture from the most basic, survival, level consideration of morality has no bearing upon the use of any method that ensures survival. The imperative is the continuation of the line, therefore, so long as the subject of the torture isn’t of that line any method of information extraction is justified.
4GW – Fourth gradient doctrines are based upon the principle of the attainment of a functional invulnerability that prevents the opponent from being able to orient upon a threat and creates a perception that saps the ability of the opponent to function effectively.
The use of torture at the fourth gradient is premised upon the creation of a sense of dread of the unknown in the minds of the opponent. Torture becomes a method not just of gathering information, but a weapon of fear. Used as an extreme, the opponent may have a fear of capture by the 4GW actor that prevents the opponent from orienting effectively, always considering most immediately the need to be able to escape rather than the most immediate method to execute their own doctrine. The morality of the use of torture at this gradient is ignored in the necessity of its utility to inspire fear.
5GW – Fifth gradient doctrines are based upon the principle of manipulation of the context of the observations of an opponent in order to achieve a specific effect.
Torture at the fifth gradient takes on a different aspect from the use of torture at 0GW and 4GW. At those gradients the negative moral aspect of torture is either irrelevant or used to give torture utility. For 5GW the moral aspect of torture is the most important aspect. In most (if not all cases) 5GW is a warfare of competing ideas and ideals. At the fifth gradient the least desirable outcome is to have your ideology linked to an overwhelmingly negative meme like torture either through your own actions, or by the manipulation of an opponent that links torture to your ideology.
Do the Ends Justify the Means?
Calling it torture or “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” makes no difference, if a method is seen to be torture it carries a negative moral connotation. As it is argued above, for two of the three gradients this is either irrelevant or desirable, however, for 5GW the moral aspect is paramount. At the risk of editorializing, the United States of America is at its very core an expression of an ideology, an expression of connectivity and freedom and the ideal that all good things are possible with enough hard work and determination. As such, The United States of America in spreading that ideal must always approach any conflict or confrontation from the fifth gradient mind-set. Because of that, the USA must never engage in a method or doctrine that has a negative moral aspect, and must always guard against an opponent’s attempt to manipulate the USA into a morally negative action, lest that negative meme be linked to the positive ideological foundation of the country.
For 5GW the means justify the end.
“As long as human beings have killed one another, theorists have struggled to forecast the nature of future slaughter correctly. Military futurism, however, is different from more popular forms of futurism. Speculation about future warfare inevitably garners more attention than debates over the nature of technological change and human civilization. One reason may be that people are particularly attuned to matters of life and death. But an emerging technology or social change may have just as” much long-term impact as a new kind of weapon or tactic. So why does Patton always flatten Schrödinger and his cat under his tank treads?”
A valuable insight by Adam Elkus, a co-blogger of mine at Dreaming 5GW, on the difficulty of peering into the crystal ball to determine the future of anything, much less warfare. I personally favor the approach of trying to find those elements of warfare that don’t change, that remain constant independent of technology or social change, to use as the basis for theory. I think this is one of the strengths of the XGW framework, that you can take any given situation in any given era and use the XGW framework to classify the gradient of the methods being used, the doctrines behind them, and judge if the response was appropriate or not, and if not, to use the framework to suggest what reaction could have been more effective.
“This is what the next generation of warfare will be all about: achieving nonkinetic victories by steering other nations’ ambitions.”
A quote so short from a book so extensive is, of course, taken out of its context. Barnett isn’t speaking here about the Generations of Modern Warfare (GMW) or about XGW (or at least there is no mention of it in the director’s commentary or endnotes), but he is in this section, and throughout the book, talking about grand strategy, the pinnacle level of expressions of Force, a level for which the mainly non-kinetic doctrines of the fifth gradient are optimized.
In principle, XGW should be able to describe the doctrines used on any given battlefield and at any level of conflict or confrontation from the tactical to the grand strategic. Some applications of cyberwarfare seem obvious fits into certain gradients. Individuals of groups that engage in vandalism and cybercrime could be 0GW and 1GW respectively. Massive botnet attacks that attack networks on a broad scale fit very nicely into the second gradient. Third gradient cyberwarfare doctrines could act to target very specific choke-points of networks or even to disrupt real-world infrastructure like electrical and communications grids through cyberspace.
Fourth and fifth gradient doctrines seem to be a lot more subtle, crossing from the, relatively speaking, kinetic actions of cybercrime and cybervandalism, into less kinetic actions like subversion and co-optation. These would likely be doctrines that inform activities rarely if ever observed by the average person no matter how technologically connected they are.
At the fourth gradient cyberwarfare doctrines might entail carefully building vulnerabilities into systems that can be selectively targeted to accomplish certain effects all at once that are virtually impossible to react to until after the attack has already occured. For example, creating and distributing a computer virus that penetrates multiple systems and sits dormant until intentionally activated at a particular time to shut down or hijack the networks those systems are linked to. Unlike a brute force botnet attack that overloads the system (very cyber-kinetic), in this case the system is gradually subverted until control of the network is stripped away and/or the system attacks itself.
Cyberwarfare at the fifth gradient might involve essentially shaping networks and systems themselves. It might involve a targeted effort to control cetain types of information or movements in networks or systems. The key at this gradient should be using systems and networks to shape the context of perception in order to affect certain network elements, thought processes, or even feelings of the users of those attached to the network.
It might even try to make you think a hacker can blow up your computer.
An Example of Different Gradients of Doctrine Being Used at Different Levels of the Expression of Force.
From NPR News:
“CIA-directed airstrikes against al-Qaida leaders and facilities in Pakistan over the past six to nine months have been so successful, according to senior U.S. officials, that it is now possible to foresee a ‘complete al-Qaida defeat’ in the mountainous region along the border with Afghanistan.
The officials say the terrorist network’s leadership cadre has been ‘decimated’ with up to a dozen senior and midlevel operatives killed as a result of the strikes and the remaining leaders reeling from the repeated attacks.
‘The enemy is really, really struggling,’ says one senior U.S. counterterrorism official. ‘These attacks have produced the broadest, deepest and most rapid reduction in al-Qaida senior leadership that we’ve seen in several years.’ “
The CIA is apparently using MQ-9 Reaper UAVs combined with improved intelligence to find and target the leadership of Al-Qaida in the mountainous areas along the Afganistan and Pakistan border. This particular scenario is a perfect illustration of two different gradients of doctrine in the XGW framework (3GW and 4GW) being used simultaneously at two different levels of the expression of Force (Tactical and Operational).
The following is an attempt to categorize the principles behind the doctrines that comprise each gradient of the XGW framework. Please note that the XGW framework is not the Generations of Modern Warfare model described by Lind, Nightengale, Schmitt, Sutton and Wilson in The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation. The XGW framework is a descendant of that model and shares some characteristics such as the carryover of elements from one gradient to the next.
Other authors and thinkers whose ideas and concepts greatly contributed to this framework include, but are not limited to; Robert Leonhard, John Boyd, Thomas X. Hammes, Rupert Smith, Tom Barnett, Howard Bloom, Dan Abbot, Curtis Gale Weeks, ‘Purpleslog,’ and John Robb. I stand on the shoulders of giants.
Special thanks are owed to the commentators who through constructive argument and devil’s advocacy helped refine the framework into its current incarnation.
Introduction to the Framework
Premise of Conflict and Confrontation:
The XGW framework is based upon the concept of conflict and confrontation from General Rupert Smith’s The Utility of Force. The XGW framework addresses any instance where two or more actors come into conflict and/or confrontation be it physical, ideological or political.
Premise of Basic Principles:
Each gradient of XGW embodies the basic principle behind an expression of Force. This addresses not the ‘how’ but ‘why’ each gradient of doctrine functions as it does. Each gradient is intended to be broad and inclusive to account for all possible doctrines. The XGW framework is also intended to allow for new gradients to be created, accounting for doctrines that do not fit in any of the six existing gradients, 0GW through 5GW.
Kinetic and Non-kinetic Force:
The doctrines of the XGW framework embody expressions of Force both kinetic and non-kinetic In the XGW framework, kinetic Force has greater utility at lower gradients of the framework, and less utility at the higher gradients of the framework. This utility is mirrored by the utility of non-kinetic Force, which is lowest at the lower gradients of the framework and greatest at the highest gradients of the framework.
Being premised upon base principles, the doctrines of the XGW gradients are effectively independent of technological innovation. In principle, a practitioner should be able to pursue any gradient of doctrine with any available technology.
Classification and Application:
The XGW framework is intended to have two separate but complimentary functions. The framework is first a guide to classify and understand the principle behind doctrines being employed by actors in any conflict or confrontation. Second, a practitioner should use the knowledge gained by this classification in order to devise doctrines that perform at a higher gradient than those being used by their opponent. This problem-solving process is expressed as x+1 where ‘x’ is the gradient of doctrine being used by an actor and ‘+1’ is the next higher gradient of doctrine. Each gradient of doctrine’+1’ possesses, in principle, an inherent advantage over doctrines of the previous gradient.
The XGW Framework
0 (Base) Gradient – Darwinian Warfare – 0GW
Confrontation and Conflict at its most basic level is an expression of natural selection. This genetic imperative is the principle behind any doctrine that is essentially the projection of Force for the survival of an individual organism.
Note: Howard Bloom argues in The Lucifer Principle that ideas/memes act in the same manner.
First Gradient – Cooperative Warfare – 1GW
Cooperative warfare doctrines are based upon the principle of creating organizations that require the individual to surrender control to the group in order to project Force to accomplish goals that are necessary to the survival of the group.
Second Gradient – Attrition Warfare – 2GW
The Principle behind attrition warfare describes doctrines that use the strength of the attacker to target the strength of the opponent.
Third Gradient – Maneuver Warfare – 3GW
Maneuver Warfare doctrines are based upon the principle of avoiding the strength of the opponent in order to attack the critical vulnerability of the opponent.
Note: The principles of 2GW and 3GW are informed mostly by the thinking of Col. Robert Leonhard’s books, The Art of Maneuver: Maneuver Warfare Theory and AirLand Battle, and The Principles of War for the Information Age.He bases these principles upon the concepts and writings of Sun-Tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, John Boyd, William Lind, and B. H. Liddell-Hart, among others.
Fourth Gradient – Moral Warfare – 4GW
Fourth gradient doctrines are based upon the principle of the attainment of a functional invulnerability that prevents the opponent from being able to orient upon a threat and creates a perception that saps the ability of the opponent to function effectively.
Fifth Gradient – Contextual Warfare – 5GW
Fifth gradient doctrines are based upon the principle of manipulation of the context of the observations of an opponent in order to achieve a specific effect.
Originally published 1/10/09 at Dreaming 5GW.
There are a few basic premises that should be included in any framework that attempts to differentiate between methods / doctrines / types / generations / gradients of warfare.
1) There must be an internally consistent progression of effectiveness displayed in the framework. For every type of warfare there is at least one corresponding type of warfare that exists to offset it. It may not yet exist or yet have a set theoretical definition, but it must be able to potentially exist and be able to be expressed on the continuum of warfare within the framework.
2) The types of warfare must be able to exist on any type of battlefield.
3) The framework must express an ability to categorize types of warfare in order to determine the position of a type of warfare on a continuum, and suggest the appropriate response to a type of warfare by showing on the continuum the counter to the type of warfare an opponent is employing.
4) Each type of warfare in the framework must be able to be clearly defined at each level of employment be it tactical, operational, strategic or grand strategic. Also, different types of warfare must be able to co-exist at each of these levels.
Originally published 8/25/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
Notes Towards a Theory of Asymmetric Conflict.
Lots of great food for thought here that resonates well with XGW theory, specifically the concepts of perception (4GW) and context (5GW).
Originally published 8/17/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
From Russia Policy; Trying to Make a Virue Out of Having Ceded the Initiative at Zenpundit in a comment by Seerov.
“This war is the result of the old Soviet policy of demographic engineering. The Soviets (Especially Stalin) would “dilute” its bordering States with ethnic Russians. This gave the Soviet leadership some “good guys” in every surrounding country. Sometimes this demographic engineering would entail removing an ethnic group and “replanting” it somewhere in Siberia or the Caucuses. China has similar policies towards Tibet and other breakaway regions. They’ve relocated millions of Han-Chinese into Tibet in order to have “goodguys” there. There’s some who accuse the US government of doing the same thing. A working/middle class ethnic coalition of European Americans in the US is a threat to the US elite. In order to “dilute this threat,” the elites had to push by forced diversity initiatives, and remove the freedom of association from people. The US government also uses psychological and economic warfare to make sure that the White middle/working classes accept forced diversity.
This policy may have worked while the Soviet apparatus was in place, but once it fell, these groups then started pursuing their own ethnic interests, instead of “Soviet Interests.” Of course, as the old Nation State Order gives-way to Hyper-Globalization, I’m pretty sure that more and more ethnic groups will be asking “is it good for the _Fill_IN_THE_Blank_, when making a policy decisions.
Today’s Russia uses ethnic Russians in a way that constitutes some sort of Warfare(5GW?)? I think we can call it demographic warfare? The Soviets conducted “demographic engineering,” as these actions were for the “health” of the State. The US and China conduct “demographic engineering.” Modern Russia conduct’s “demographic warfare” to help control territory past its borders. Russia can use the excuse that its “preventing genocide” in almost all of its bordering nations.”
I think the idea of Demographic Warfare is interesting but I don’t think it really qualifies as 5GW, rather more along the lines of ethic gerrymandering.
The 5GW approach, to my mind, would be more along the line of triggering a specific identity in a targeted individual, group or organization. We all carry around many, many identities, they come from our familes and our professions, where we went to school, the country we are a citizen of, as well as what country our ancestors came from. To be able to cause a target to think of something through the lens of a specific identity is, as far as I am concerned, is the most subtle and effective manipulation of context possible, and therefore 5GW.
(Major hat tip to Stephen Pampinella)
Originally published 8/6/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
Halting State is set in the near furure and centers initially around a bank robbery. That in itself isn’t especially SciFi or even 5GWish except that this particular bank robbery was carried out against a bank in an MMORPG virtual world by a band of Orcs backed up by a Dragon. As the investigation starts to gain a clear picture of what actually happened this has very serious national security implications.
Much like Daemon, the 5GWish aspect of Halting State involves how communications technology, MMORPGs, Augmented Reality (AR) and other concepts that people now use for, or look to be the next wave in, entertainment and work, can be easily and invisibly turned into platforms for warfare. Especially warfare by proxy.
Not to spoil any plot aspects of the story but those interested in 5GW should pay very close attention to SPOOKS, an espionage game played by two of the main characters and STEAMING, a game that is under development at the beginning of the book.
Originally published 7/15/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
An Interesting puzzle for 5GW thinking. (Hat tip: Zenpundit)
by Cheryl Rofer“Andy at Nuclear Mangoes reminded me over the weekend of my irritation that nobody has addressed the strategy of one to a few nuclear weapons. That’s a different problem than something in the range of 5-10, which is a different problem from a higher number. None of these have been addressed systematically for today’s world.
So let’s have a blog tank. Anyone who wants to participate should post a scenario (or scenarios) on their blog or, if you don’t have a blog, in the comments to this post. Here is the problem I want to address:
What strategies are available to a country with fissionable material sufficient for 1-5 nuclear weapons, some of which may be assembled? Take into account probable responses, and assume some sort of rationality on the holders of these weapons and material. You may specifically refer to Iran and North Korea, or any other nation, or make the scenario(s) more general. Flesh out the scenario with some support.”
My thinking is that it really isn’t very cost effective for a country to build a nuclear program that provided only a few useable weapons, Once the infrastructure is in place an arsenal of a few dozen weapons would likely be possible as a country plays for time, betting that the program will reach maturity before international sanctions could ruin the country. From there it just becomes a question of the range of the possible delivery vehicles. In the event of military preemption before the program reaches its production goal, the existing weapons, if used, would most likely be used tactically, a situation that already has a well developed doctrine.
A more interesting scenario to me is what would happen if a nation or organization without a nuclear arms program should happen to find itself in possession of one to five nuclear weapons, a few former Soviet nuclear artillery shells for example. Perhaps through some sort of logistical error a few of these rounds made it into circulation in the Caucasus. Several countries militarily active in the region, including Russia, have 2S7 Pion self-propelled guns and / or 2S4 Tulip self-propelled mortars capable of firing 203mm and 240mm nuclear shells respectively. The yield of a slightly larger US weapon, the W19, was 15-20 kilotons. Reportedly, Russian weapons had higher yields than their U. S. counterparts so this range seems a good ballpark for comparison and places it in approximately the same range as Little Boy and Fat Man, the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This gives these devices a very respectable amount of potential destruction to compliment the greatest possible asset for these weapons, their portability and size. Yes, these weapons are intended to be used tactically, but is it possible to craft a scenario to use them strategically?
This situation also suggests four different types of players (aside from the pure terrorist).
1) The Outpost of Tyranny #7: Basically, a country with an authoritarian regime that wants to make waves with the big players, yet doesn’t want to be paid a visit by the Leviathan and will use these weapons to prevent that possibility.
2) The Independence movement: A country or organization that desires to set itself apart and / or establish its own country or government independent from the government that currently rules it. They want to change the map and they want to ensure that the change is permanent.
3) The Prince among the Paupers: Several countries around the world are making a concerted effort to increase their connectivity and enter the ranks of the Core while their neighbors remain firmly and resolutely in the Gap. and unfortunately those neighbors only seem to export unrest and deter foreign investment. Worse they quite often become the fourth type of player.
4) The Covetous Neighbor: These are countries, mired in third-world status, that see more prosperous and resource rich neighbors around them. Should they acquire the means, how could they acquire those resources, and how would they prevent the world for stopping them?
Looking at the problem through the problem-solving lens of XGW a few considerations become rapidly apparent for all of these players. The opposition to the possession of these weapons will likely respond with a 2GW, 3GW or 4GW (especially in the case of player #3) doctrine. Therefore a 4GW or 5GW doctrine is required. Also, as General Sir Rupert Smith would argue, the force needs to be placed in a political context or it will have no Utility. Therefore, I propose a 4GW doctrine for the operational use of these weapons within a political context shaped by a strategy using a 5GW doctrine.
The 4GW Operation:
As noted before, the greatest strength of these weapons is their size and portability. Assuming that the devices could be modified for transportation and detonation they could be possibly smuggled virtually anywhere in the world. This capability means that the weapons could very well be pre-positioned as nuclear blackmail. To add to the confusion of where the weapons are positioned and to maintain the ongoing threat I envision a nuclear shell game, where dummy weapons (maybe enhanced with slightly radioactive medical waste) are emplaced alongside the real weapons in various points around a target with dummy weapons ‘allowed’ to be discovered from time to time, or whenever an object lesson is desired on the part of the player emplacing them. Each of the players that I have described could find targets that would serve their purposes in this way. As 4GW this is a strike against the will of the target, making them choose between their political goal in opposing the ‘player’ or sacrificing something potentially very valuable to them (like the center of their capital city, military base or main shipping port). The more weapons that are available, the greater the potential for deterrence.
The 5GW Strategy:
Ironically, even though the 4GW Operation benefits from more weapons being available, the 5GW strategy only requires one (and with the proper preparation you might even be able to get away with none, but that’s an advanced class). Essentially, the objective is to prove the potential of multiple weapons by openly displaying the existence of at least one weapon. Should you possess only two, one should be test-detonated and the other should be openly displayed to an authority that can realiably vouch for its authenticity. This very controlled transparency is a 5GW affect on observation that triggers existing assumptions, rule-sets and responses both in countries that are targeted and in countries that are merely in the audience. At this point even if the target believes you are bluffing your target must at least honor the threat. When that happens the shell game your 4GW Operation is playing may as well be Three-Card Monte. The key to making that happen is for the player to act in every way as if the weapons actually exist, and that the player has the ability and the will to use them. This means having a dedicated logistical and security force to service and guard nothing, exercises to employ weapons you don’t have, foreign policy that embodies deterrence by weapons that don’t exist. The reason for this is that your enemies will search relentlessly for evidence of your bluff, yet each exercise, each discovered operation, each policy decision, each and every action taken as if your nuclear capability is a reality is a confirmation that your capability is a reality.
Originally published 6/26/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
From NPR News: All Things Considered.
“June 23, 2008 · A new study shows that where you vote affects how you vote. People who vote in schools, for example, are more likely to support a school funding initiative. The researchers suggest that the same sort of psychology might affect people who vote in churches.”
This story caught my attention not only because it has to do with elections (see #3), but because as proto-5GW thinking (not secrecy-shrouded full-on 5GW) it is an observable manipulation of context. Granted, in this particular study the difference in the voting pattern is small, yet with only this one variable of context being affected there is a measurable difference in the effect. I would envision a true 5GW actor affecting multiple variables in order to achieve a desired context and an ultimate effect that has become compounded in the process.
“Contextual priming: Where people vote affects how they vote”
by Jonah Berger, Marc Meredith , and S. Christian Wheeler
Originally published 6/18/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
“It seems to me that 5GW is less about looking for one particular CoG (be it stregth or weakness) but about engaging the target on as many different chessboards as possible and attacking the CoG that gains you the most advantage on each board.”
The idea of multiple chessboards reminded me of something else that I saw about a year ago on a television program starring mentalist / illusionist / magician Derren Brown and marked for possible 5GW exploration. (Actually Derren Brown could be the subject of a whole series of 5GW posts, something I may have to further explore. Stage Magic and Illusion as 5GW is one of my original topics of exploration.) The lesson to be gained from this particular situation isn’t exactly the one I was going for in the comment at PC, but there is a 5GW lesson there.
So what is the lesson? I’ll leave that to the readers to put in the comments. I know what I see, maybe somebody else will see something even deeper.
Red Herrings Note: Comment by Arherring
Originally published 5/26/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
I posted this as part of a comment at TDAXP, part of an excellent discussion with several D5GW contributors and Smitten Eagle about the shape of XGW and its differences from the Generations of Modern Warfare (GMW). I’m posting it here so that I can possibly expand upon it and more easily refer back to it in the future.
0GW is the heading for genocidal/survival warfare. Individuals fight for themselves and for the right of their line to survive.
1GW encompasses projection of force to and from key geographical postions. The Spartans and Persians at Thermopylae is a good example of this as are the campaigns of Hannibal and many other battles from antiquity to modern times.
2GW covers doctrines of attrition, where force is used to degrade the physical ability of the enemy to oppose you by direct force. Agincourt is a prime example of this but so are many battles in the American Civil War, WW1 and WW2.
3GW is for doctrines that dislocate the strength of an enemy with a strike at the essential weakness of an enemy (2GW is strength on strength, and 3GW is strength on weakness). The German bypassing of the Maginot Line is an example of avoiding strength to attack weakness and displacing the enemy. This kind of displacement may be positional, temporal, material and/or moral. The Mongols were masters of this, so was ‘Stonewall Jackson’ and Erwin Rommel.
4GW makes the jump into the moral that 3GW starts. 4GW doctrines strike at the enemy’s perceived ability to continue fighting. Scorched earth is an example of 4GW in that even before an invader feels the pinch of not being able to provide for themselves from conquered territory (even if alternative supply can be arranged) they begin to feel unable to continue the fight in the face of such destruction and resolution.
5GW is even more subtle, it’s activity goes below perception into the context of conflict. What a target observes is manipulated in order to cause the target to react in a specific and completely natural manner.
Each of these Generations is, in effect, a dislocation of the previous Generation (X-1). The doctrines that fit into each of these Generations may exist concurrently with each other. A 5GW campaign may contain battles fought with 4GW, 3GW and 2GW doctrines and contain engagements of Generations 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. This is a strength of XGW.
Red Herrings Note: Important follow-up to this post – Triangulating Clauswitz and Boyd by Curtis Gale Weeks.
Originally published 5/5/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
There have been other works of fiction discussed in 5GW circles that, to some extent or in some part, contain elements that could be used as examples of Fifth Generation Warfare theory. Ender’s Game and other books of the ‘Enderverse’ come to mind. Daemon by Leinad Zeraus, however, doesn’t just contain elements of 5GW thought; it is a book that embodies nearly every aspect of a 5GW conflict.
All of the elements of Fifth Generation Warfare are here. The Daemon controls a highly distributed organization that works by proxy and in secret. Even when its targets know the Daemon exists and is attacking them they themselves are forced to keep its existence secret. The Daemon uses the rule-sets of its opponents against themselves so that when they attempt to respond to it they are doing exactly what the Daemon wants them to do. The Daemon’s proxies resemble everything from multi-national corporations to Global Guerillas and are sometimes, willing, sometimes unwilling and very often unaware.
For 5GW thinkers this is a great opportunity to see some 5GW thinking in (if only fictional) action. Truly, a must have for the 5GW bookshelf. There are that many lessons to be learned, and examples to be illustrated upon. For those who are not 5GW thinkers, this is just, plainly put, a really excellent book. One of the best reads I’ve had in a long time.
Originally published 4/22/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
Just a quick note to share an interesting term I ran across that might be a catchy title for Fifth Generation Warfare actors or organizations.
Dark Lantern: A lantern with an opening, which may be
closed to conceal the light.
Fraser shifted a bit in his library chair. “Dr. Mallory, my Bureau exists to destroy conspiracies. We are not without experience. We are not without our resources. We will not be trumped by some shabby clique of dark-lanternists. We mean to have the lot of these plotters, branch and root, and we will do it sooner, sir, if you are frank with me, and tell me all you know.”
From The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
The term ‘dark-lanternist’ literally means somebody who moves around after dark with a lantern that is specifically designed to have its light concealed. Consequently, it has come to be synonymous with plotters and conspirators who wish to keep their presence well-hidden, something that seems eminently well-suited to the world of 5GW.
Originally published 4/21/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
It may, in fact, be quite visible.
“We were fourtunate that we were able to seed it. And a few places kept picking it up and wondering if it was real, was it fake? And then I think we had a little ‘Ah-Ha’ moment and said, could we keep this going. Could we extend the life of a viral video and make the McCain Girls a story rather than a one-hit-wonder.”
President of 23/6
While a Fifth Generation Warfare campaign may itself be shrouded in misdirection and secrecy, the lessons, theories, practices and elements that inform its development may be completely transparent and available for study by an actor who grasps the implications.