“Fifth Generation War”

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War has evolved rapidly in the last 100 years, prompting historians and strategists to come up with new terms for new ways of fighting. They call mechanized warfare, which originated in the early 20th century, the third “generation” of war, and ideological warfare waged by guerilla groups the fourth.

But what about guerilla-style warfare waged by non-ideological groups against traditional states — pirates, for instance, whose attacks can destabilize trade-dependent nations, but who don’t have strategic goals beyond just getting rich? Free-for-all violence, with indirect global effects, represents a fifth generation of war, according to some experts. And when it comes to defeating fifth-gen enemies, “the old rules of warfare do not apply,” declared Marine Lt. Col. Stanton Coerr, writing in Marine Corps Gazette, a professional journal.

So the U.S. military and its government partners are writing new rules, and putting them to the test on the first of the fifth-generation battlefields emerging in Africa.

Fifth-gen enemies do not have traditional “centers of gravity” — armies, governments, factories, charismatic leaders — that can be destroyed by military attacks. By their mere survival, these enemies undermine the notion that nation-states, their ideals and their economies are viable in the modern world.

Examples of emerging fifth-generation wars include: Read the entire article at World Politics Review

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