Bryce Sharper over at American Partisan has a very nicely annotated reading list on Fourth Generation Warfare – A 4GW Reading List. Fourth-generation warfare (4GW) is the name given to modern warfare which blurs the lines between war and politics, and combatants and civilians. It may also be used for any type of war in which one of the major combatants is a non-state actor. Revolutions and insurgencies, as well as much other modern violent conflict, can fall under the 4GW umbrella. As Bryce points out in his reading list, the drug trade in the USA can be viewed as a 4GW conflict. Here I’ve excerpted the first three books on his list.
As the nation-state system goes through its death throes, our own government has admitted that the world is undergoing “Lebanonization.” For no other reason than that, I think it’s a good idea to understand 4th-Generation warfare in all its forms. Personally, I felt most of my officer training was useless for war in the world of the declining nation-state, so this topic is of academic interest to me. In each of these books, question the assumptions and correlate the assumption with those of other authors. These books are not ranked in order.
- Victoria by Bill Lind. A novel about 4th generation war in the United States. Regardless of what you believe about its premises, it’s an excellent, thought-provoking read about the establishment of insurgency, legitimacy, and prosecution of 4th-generation war in various regions of the former United States. It has excellent summaries of key ideas of military strategists (Moltke, et al) and philosophers (the Frankfurt School) that influenced the outbreak of insurgency in the United States, for good or bad. Lind gives an excellent definition of strategy in Victoria from one of Boyd’s talks. He said strategy is the art of connecting yourself to as many other power centers as possible, while separating your enemy from as many power centers as possible.
- American Insurgents; American Patriots by Breen. It examines the countryside insurgency that evicted the British occupation from the countryside and bottled it up in the cities. The interesting thing was the way the insurgency established a larger organization among the 13 colonies and avoided anarchy and established legitimacy. I’m halfway through. This book is a slog but gives the background of one of the few insurgencies run by good people to good results. Most insurgencies are by bad people towards bad results.
- The Fangs of the Lone Wolf: Chechen tactics in the Russian-Chechen wars 1994-2009. The forward states that “what is lacking in the literature about the guerrilla perspective are collections of the combat experiences of the rank and file guerrillas and their tactical leaders. These people seldom leave written records, yet theirs are often the most interesting accounts.” This book contains stories from rank-and-file guerrillas…