The Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook, co-authored by Lt. Col. Greg Thiele and myself, is now available on Amazon. At
present, it is only an e-book; the real book should be available early
next year. The publisher is Castalia House Press.
The Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook is a follow-on to my Maneuver Warfare Handbook,
which was published in 1985 and is still in print. The new book’s
origins lie in the Fourth Generation Warfare seminar Lt. Col. Thiele and
I taught for some years at the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Warfare
School. That seminar wrote a number of field manuals for 4GW, published
as manuals of the K.u.K. Austro-Hungarian Marine Corps.
Greg and I distilled the content of those manuals, added a good bit of
material of our own (especially on true light infantry, normally the
most effective force against 4GW opponents) and have published it in a
form we think will reach more readers than have the field manuals.
The new book presumes the reader is familiar with the framework of
the Four Generations of Modern War, although it does offer a summary of
the first three generations in an appendix. After a discussion of the
theory of 4GW which focuses on the dilemmas it poses to state armed
forces, dilemmas which usually lead state militaries to defeat
themselves, it turns to the practical problems 4GW presents. This is
consistent with its nature as a handbook: its purpose is not academic
discussion but providing useful ideas to those serving in state forces.
One of the potentially most useful tools it offers is the grid: a
nine-box square with the three traditional levels of war, tactical,
operational, and strategic, on the vertical axis and Col. John Boyd’s
three new levels, physical, mental, and moral, on the horizontal axis.
State armed forces (including police) can use the grid to evaluate
planned missions by asking what results the mission is likely to bring
in each of the nine boxes.
At present, most missions are evaluated in only one box, the
tactical/physical. These are the two weakest levels of war. The blowback
the mission brings at more powerful levels, especially the most
powerful box, strategic/moral, helps explain why state militaries
usually lose Fourth Generation wars. By using the grid to anticipate
negative results at higher and more powerful levels, it may be possible
to avoid those negative effects by changing what is done tactically and
European readers of The Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook may wonder why much of the latter part of the book is devoted to true light (or Jaeger)
infantry. The reason is that the U.S. armed forces mis-define light
infantry as line infantry with less equipment. This false definition
leads the Americans to think they have light infantry when in fact they
do not. Because true light infantry are usually 4GW forces’ most
dangerous opponents, this leaves the U.S. largely disarmed in this kind
of war. Its fall-back of massive firepower literally blows up in its
face at the moral level, ensuring its defeat. (The closest thing the
U.S. has to true light infantry is probably the Marine Scout/Snipers.
According to one report from Afghanistan, the Taliban refer to the
Scout/Snipers as “The Marines who are well-trained.” The Pashtun are,
and long have been, some of the world’s best light infantry.)
For Americans, the Handbook‘s chapter on how to convert line
to light infantry may be its most important. Many infantry battalion,
company, and platoon commanders would like to make the switch, but don’t
know how. Now they will.
My hope is that the The Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook will prove as useful to members of sate armed forces a has the Maneuver Warfare Handbook.
4GW is a more difficult challenge than 3GW, maneuver warfare. Because
only those state armed forces that have made it into the Third
Generation have any chance of winning in 4GW, both books are likely to
be around for a long time.