Fourth Generation Warfare and the Survivor

Military think tankers often characterize the current terrorism conflicts as fourth generation warfare between transnational groups which don't play by "the rules".  Wars taken on by "sovereign" governments will thus have a more "legitimate" air.  Reality is that undeclared warfare is practiced by nearly all significant parties on this planet and the survivor can become an unwilling participant in such warfare at almost any time.  

Unfortunately for most of us, we are faced with enemies both as a nation and in our personal lives who either write their own rules as they go along, or in their arrogance feel entitled to hurt others in any manner they see fit with no expectation or understanding of like retribution.   While in the activity of imposing their will upon others, they care little about the means or the end as long as it is effective and carries little likelihood of negative consequences.   With power comes protection from negative consequences, thus, those with power often engage in what is effectively fourth generation warfare at will.

"Rules" of conflict have often been understood by fighting men since the dawn of time.   All civilizations have entertained codes of conduct both in war and "peace", and thus have also developed civilized means of resolving conflict.  In our modern societies, such peaceable means involve arbitration, agreements in free will, and as a later resort, the court systems.   As many different cultures in this world become closer together through ease of communication, travel, and competition for resources, we also see a clash of not only interests, but in the way people view conflict within not-so-universal paradigms.  

Regardless of the means of resolving conflict, there are always going to be those who are advantaged in one arena more than others.   In the old rules of gentlemanly honor in dueling, it is the responding party that had the option of choosing the method of duel, not the challenging party.   Coercion into a rigged duel, or one in which the challenging party had an unfair advantage was clearly seen as not honorable, but intent to murder.   This is the element of fourth generation warfare that is such a departure from understood standards of honor.   Fourth generation warfare is not all that new, but it is evolving into a high science honed by the Cold war between the US and the Soviet Union, now transformed into a more complex conflict between a larger number of major ideologies. 

The think-tankers will talk about this type of warfare being "new" but in reality we have seen it in the political struggles of the past several hundred years.   The Italian Sage, Niccolio Machiavelli summed up many of these things in his classic work, The Prince.   

A dishonorable opponent in this type of warfare will mask his or her intent and even methods in attack.  If successful, the victim of such attacks will not only be incapable of defending himself, but will often be unable to retaliate because the attacker will hide their identity.  When confronted, such attackers will deny responsibility for the attacks.   Unfortunately, governments very often have vested interests in denying the scope of fourth generation warfare within their borders and against their citizens.  

A survivor, in keeping with the basic ideologies of survival has probably taken steps to ensure the security of himself, immediate family, and close friends.  In some case, the survivor will assume certain responsible roles within groups, whether they are based on religious conviction, geographic, ideological or ethnic associations.  

Probably the most important assets one must develop in fourth generation warfare involve information gathering and analysis.  The reason being that threats will always be elusive no matter how strong or weak they are.   Deception on the part of any opposition will be common as most modern "warriors" are students of one kind or another of Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese General who espoused extensive use of deception in warfare.     

The individual survivor or group must develop means of getting restricted or hard to find information in order to deal with fourth generation warfare, and then must have or develop the means to analyze that information.   This usually means studying and analyzing possible threats, and careful selection of targets defensive and or retributive action that is in measured response.  

Intelligence gathering and analysis means being able to access and search databases and other sources of information.  It means learning and implementing basic security and surveillance techniques and countermeasures.   Analysis assets will most likely involve a combination of education and association with various informed persons on certain subjects and people.   

Fourth Generation Warfare attacks against individuals, families and small groups include:

Arson - often used to cause direct economic damage to the victims.  This is a frighteningly common and low cost tactic used by various groups and individuals.  Perpetrators are rarely caught.   Most US states consider arson to be a serious crime and justify the use of deadly force to prevent an imminent arson attack that is likely to cause death or great bodily harm.   Many groups that use arson as a weapon will both celebrate the success of an arson attack and deny responsibility.

Computer hacking - A very common method of attack utilizing both the Internet and other means of introducing sabotage software to targeted computers and computer systems.  This includes software designed to compromise communication, destroy records and files, or corrupt data. 

Spying - Spying is the gathering of information with the intent to use that information in planning harm to the subject.   This can take many forms but hostile information gathering is to be taken seriously as preparatory to an attack.   A survivor must be able to discriminate between simple curiosity, legitimate information gathering, and hostile information gathering.   Take measures to conceal or  obscure sensitive information and detect hostile information gathering.  Note that when you are dealing with hostile people, any information is going to be "sensitive" information, thus it is important to determine the intent of any information gathering efforts early on in order to take the appropriate action.  

Slander - the publishing or communication of damaging information about an individual or group.  Slander usually involves a level of deception through a combinations of omissions and exaggerations.   Skilled political operators have developed slander to a high art form and often know how to deliver the desired message in a way that will cause the most damage to the victim.   This includes the kind of slanted propaganda we often see from Arab news networks or a rather infamous case in Guatemala where a newspaper published stories about how Americans were adopting Guatemalan orphans to they could be taken to the US and killed to be harvested as organ donors.   The Guatemalan case has been a classic of dangerous slander based on elements of truth.   It prompted mobs of angry Guatemalans to attack and kill Americans who went to Guatemala to aid in orphanages and some who tried to adopt Guatemalan children.   Some Guatemalans to this day are convinced that their children were kidnapped by American organ brokers posing as childless couples adopting children in spite of later published admissions in the Guatemalan newspaper that it was a hoax.  

Economic attacks - This can include theft, vandalism and other activities geared toward causing economic damage to the victim.  Many groups have also learned the utility of using civil lawsuits as weapons against others as a means of forcing expenditure of resources to defend against the civil suit and financially ruin the victim regardless of the merits of any civil claim.  

In addition to the economic attacks, or as an element of them, there is the general harassment that can be done to a person at home, in the workplace and in the community.   German sociologists have called this "mobbing", often done in the workplace as a form of harassment which is usually engineered to cause the victim to lose status, credibility, or their employment and economic standing altogether.   Realize that competition for social, economic and political opportunities will often become more merciless, not more civilized as conditions deteriorate.   This can make it more difficult to determine the difference between mean spirited social competition, no matter how sophisticated and deceptive, and an actual campaign of terror. 

Realize that the modern more civilized "terrorist" in the western world often does not use violence until later stages in the conflict.   In assessing various threats, you have to consider the potential and likelihood for harassment under this type of conflict to evolve into more recognizable terrorist acts.   This is very important with international business because it is the harassment that will often be your first tip-off to a situation turning bad that can result in loss of assets, or worse, defacto hostage situations like in pre-revolutionary Iran where several employees of Ross Perot were arrested and held on "bail" in a scheme by the Iranian secret service to renegotiate terms of a consulting contract.   

Some warning signs of fourth generation warfare:

In order for these types of activities to fall under the realm of fourth generation warfare, an organization or aggressor must have identifiable goals, usually in the form of a manifesto of some sort.   This will usually be a published document from those who are influential to the persons engaging in this type of warfare.   Presence of this kind of literature in the hands of a group with an identifiable chain of command is a strong indicator that you have someone with the potential for fourth generation warfare.   Don't take it as coincidence when you can identify a group that follows the influence of those with an agenda even if that particular group has not yet undertaken hostile activity.   Also do not be overconfident in your ability to recognize the nature of hostile activity a particular group might take.   Part of the deception game is to mislead the threat analyst into advising his superiors to defend against the wrong kinds of attacks.   Prepare for violence and ignore the legal angle and you could be in store for a devastating lawsuit that will run you to the ground.  Prepare for a legal battle, and you might find yourself in a rigged court where you have no chance at all.   Prepare a little bit for all contingencies, and you might find yourself unable to effectively deal with any.   That is why threat identification and analysis are so extremely important.   You must be diligent in correctly identifying the methods your enemy uses so that you can effectively defend against them without wasting resources on defending against phantom threats. 

Any campaign of fourth generation warfare is going to be proceeded by an information gathering phase.   In general, this type of aggressor is highly intelligent and capable of taking great care in planning their moves.   That does not mean they always employ the most intelligent aids and assistants.  Thus in fighting this kind of conflict, you must be a master of obtaining and analyzing information.  

The  next phase of a fourth generation warfare operation is usually to isolate the target, so you need to look for indications that the target has been isolated from resources like money, information, and allies.    Who is being isolated and why?  Is someone being purposefully excluded from a meeting or event?  Who has caused this?   How was this done?  These can be indicators as to the type of attack and who may be doing it.   If you are going to take action at some point, your best chance to foil the plan will be when the aggressor is in the isolation phase.  Moving the timetable of the confrontation up will force the aggressor to move before they are fully prepared, and you can use your resources while they are still available to you.   Hesitation will only cost you in the future if you have an identified threat moving to isolate you from resources.   

Theft or vandalism perpetrated by members or associates of a group which considers you a target or in a particular class of people targeted for hostility.   Example, a logger who finds that the tires on his truck were slashed and those who were caught hold membership cards to a video store, the local library, and Earth First.   That could indicate the beginning of a fourth generation warfare campaign happening in the area.   On the other hand, if the perpetrator is the husband of the woman the logger has been meeting at a hotel every Friday night for "bridge",  then it is likely not a terrorist incident although it could still escalate to violence.   

Crimes classified as "hate crimes" under known definitions, accompanied by more sophisticated messages and manipulation of publicity of the incident.   While random hate crimes do take place, those crimes accompanied by press releases or public messages delivered by the perpetrators with various demands indicate a coordinated effort that needs to be addressed from both a criminal and political standpoint.   This type of conflict was mastered by the ANC in Africa, where offensive operations were often shrouded in "crime" when in fact they were not random crimes, or even hate crimes of opportunity, but parts of coordinated campaigns to political ends.   Most Afro-centric Marxist organizations operate on the successful ANC model of coordinating "criminal acts" with political efforts.  Thus, the Afro-centric Marxists retain a thin layer of deniability for all but the most "honorable" acts of conflict.   The formula is simple and effective, but still requires fairly careful planning and discipline to put into action.   Several Black "civil rights" leaders in the USA have mastered this technique of using street crime as a means of influencing juries and legislatures into bending to their will, although this is largely in the form of demands for various payoffs and is more criminal than political in nature.   Where the African Marxist seeks to take over and loot a country into chaos, the American Afro-Marxists have proven more intelligent, probably in their analysis that the rest of the population can afford the various payoffs while it would be impossible to dominate the majority if the majority find that giving in costs more than paying out.   

Illogical,  irrational or contradictory directives from authorities of one kind or another which are unreasonable or impossible to comply with.   Going beyond what would normally be a simple disagreement, these directives are engineered to create or accelerate conflict or break down an organization.   It is often a sign that opposing forces have gained political influence within or over an organization and or its leadership.   Infiltration and sabotage must be constantly guarded against since the skilled fourth generation unconventional hostile is going to closely study the weaknesses of a targeted group or organization and may know which key individuals they can influence in order to destroy or take control of the organization.   A real classic example of this was the KGB influence over various key military structures in Eastern Europe and orders that were given to Czech military units during the first Czech attempt to break from the Warsaw Pact.   KGB and Communist party operatives within the Czech military gave orders for military units to turn in small arms and key equipment to division level depots for "maintenance and inspection".   Once that was done, it was relatively easy to bolster the "guard force" of the "inspection depots" with Spetznas troops who had been infiltrated into the country.    Any illogical or irrational order to disarm, even from your superiors, can be an indicator of a double cross, or as we now say, fourth generation warfare.   Both right and left wing movements have proven quite adept at this manipulation of authority to meet their ends, thus instigating conflict between authorities and subordinates can destabilize a situation to point that their targets are neutralized.   

Indications that long time enemies have newfound resources and aggressiveness.   This can indicate that they have found, or been found by some other enemy of yours who may not be willing to reveal their identity but is using your opponent 

Link to think tank info on fourth generation warfare.

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