For Lind et al (writing in their draft field manual), 4th generation warfare is about fighting an idea rather than fighting for territory (in Afghanistan, the Soviets failed because they ‘could not operationalize a conflict where the enemy’s strategic center of gravity was God’).
Fight an idea with conventional weapons and you often fail. ‘Every physical victory,’ Lind says, ‘may move you closer to moral defeat.’ So how do you win when strength itself can be an Achilles heal?
Lind draws the idea of a ‘moral defeat’ comes from John Boyd, the fighter pilot and godfather of contemporary military theory. For Boyd, third generation or manoeuvre warfare (think WW2 blitzkrieg) is all about using speed, ambiguity and innovation to confuse, disorient and then break the enemy. Continue reading
William Lind rates John Boyd protégée, Major Donald E Vandergriff, almost as greatly as he despairs of the US army’s ability to change:
I would like to think the Army’s leadership would take Vandergriff’s books, including Raising the Bar, turn to their subordinates and say, “Make it happen.” But I know it won’t happen.
All that can happen is what the Army has seen a million times: the slogans and buzzwords change, but the organizational culture remains Second Generation, so everything else that is real does too. Faced with new ways of war demanding that it change or die, the Army will prefer to die, because it’s easier.
Vandergriff, too, writes off “people who already have had their character defined and shaped by… today’s leadership paradigm.”
In his 2006 monograph, Raising the Bar, he calls for a revolution from below, seeded by a new generation of leaders who can outthink enemies whose goal is to “defeat the mind and destroy the cohesion of the opponent’s decision makers through any means possible.” Continue reading