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The XGW Framework

Discussion of the XGW framework may be found here or here:



The XGW Framework: Classification and Creation of Doctrines for Conflict and Confrontation.


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.