Catino pdf from ancient to modern war: An Overview of Fourth Generation Warfare

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The views expressed in this PDF lecture do not necessarily represent the view of Henley Putnam University and are solely the author's view.


  • 1. From Ancient To Modern War: An Overview of Fourth Generation Warfare Martin Scott Catino, Ph.D. Henley Putnam Univ.
  • 2. OBJECTIVES OF THIS PRESENTATION 1. Historical: Understand the general trends in the application of warfare from the ancient to the modern period. 2. Analytic: Understand the key elements and sub-components of warfare in each era or generation. 3. Situational Awareness. Understand the current asymmetrical nature of warfare. 4. Framework: Use the 4GW theory as a basic conceptual framework.
  • 3. 4GW Explained 1. 4GW is the notion that four distinct generations of warfare existed in the modern era (AD 1648-present). 2. Each period had a unique application or use of force, configuration of combatants, and relationship to the population. 3. The current period or 4GW is similar to the pre-modern (ancient) era in that the nation state no longer has a monopoly on making war.
  • 4. THE ANCIENTS: Diverse Actors 1. Family, clan, and tribe 2. Religion 3. Area: city, kingdom 4. Businesses
  • 5. THE ANCIENTS: Diverse Methods 1. Assassination 2. The Bout i.e., David vs. Goliath 3. Punitive Raids 4. Armies 5. Guerrilla war
  • 6. THE ANCIENTS: Diverse Aims and Effects 1. Psychological: cow, deter, and influence 2. Material: gain resources, land, trade routes, and populations (including enslavement) 3. Judicial: punish, depopulate, desolate (striking populations and infrastructure) 4. Political: rule over areas and populations
  • 7. THE ANCIENTS: Direct Linkage of Populations and Armies 1. Armies protected populations from annihilation, enslavement, and other sufferings. 2. Armies were the total protection of the population, and not a deployable force separate from domestic security. 3. Military class assumed often the highest level/class of rule. Defeating an army was thus equivalent to destroying a people.
  • 8. The Four Generations of Warfare 1. Mass/manpower: AD. 1648-World War I (circa 1915) 2. Firepower: World War I to World War II (1939) 3. Maneuver: World War II (1939 to 1945) 4. Asymmetrical: (1945 to present)
  • 9. Major Variables in 4GW 1. Technology 2. Leadership and the state 3. Military doctrine and thought 4. Role of the population and the nature/dimensions of the battlefield/battle space
  • 10. First Generation Warfare: 1648 to World War I (circa 1915) 1. Mass/manpower 2. Military Discipline and massing force 3. Limits of technology: smooth bore rifles 4. States and rules of warfare 5. State has near monopoly on making war 6. Linear battlefield
  • 11. Second Generation Warfare: Firepower. World War I to World War II (1939) 1. Technology leads the development of warfare as artillery, machine guns, and rifled bore weapons create massive firepower. 2. Battlefield is linear 3. State retains near monopoly on the use of force.
  • 12. Third Generation Warfare: Maneuver (World War II) Armor and Mechanized warfare 1. Doctrine: Military thought drives force deployment to overcome firepower and static armies. 2. Battlefield: striking to depth and opponents communications and support causing collapse of armies. 3. Technology increases command and control as radio used effectively.
  • 13. German Blitzkrieg Massed armor, communications (radio), mechanization of infantry, and doctrine creates maneuverability to strike in depth.
  • 14. Fourth Generation Warfare, 1945 to Present Major Dimensions: 1. Mind: Psychological Operations (Psyops) become primary and seek to degrade and collapse national will of opponent. 2. Time becomes a chief weapon to exploit by prolonging conflict and thus expense in blood and treasure. 3. Space is traded for time, becomes critical for hiding and sanctuary, and for expanding the battlefield to civilian areas. 4. Cover becomes more critical for operations as combatants appear and blend with civilian population, cover their aggression in Information Operation campaigns, and rely in military deception (MILDEC) for movements.
  • 15. Iraq: Insurgents Using Mosques
  • 16. Major Changes in Context 1. Nation states: loss of monopoly of force, technology, and diplomacy, and area control. 2. Technology and weaponry. Accessibility, diffusion, and affordability. 3. Volatility of society: globalization as integrating and disintegrating societies. 4. Media: decentralized, accessible, and more exploitable.
  • 17. Asymmetrical Dimensions 1. Range of unconventional and conventional. 2. Space and cyberspace 3. Economic warfare 4. Political warfare 5. Information/media wars 6. Hybrid: crime, terrorism, natural disaster, economic and political warfare. Leadership Agility
  • 18. SUMMARY 1. Understand the major variables affecting the conduct of war: leadership, nation states, technology, and military doctrine/thought. 2. Understand the fundamentals of ancient warfare and the modern 4GW model. 3. Understand the basics of modern warfare/ asymmetrical warfare. 4. Understand the dimensions of modern warfare.
  • 19. QUESTIONS? EMAIL: Henley Putnam University


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