Fourth Generation Warfare (National Herald Tribune (Pakistan))

Col Thomas X. Hammes, in his book on war in the 21st century, ‘The Sling and The Stone’, writes about America in Vietnam, ” In Vietnam, the side with overwhelming wealth, power, and technology had been decisively defeated. We had won the battles but lost the war.”

He further writes, “From 1987 to 1990, I got a small taste of the practical aspects of insurgency. I spent those years training insurgents in various locations of the world. This was the tail end of the Cold War and the United States still had vested interests in the outcome of a number of insurgencies.”

” One final caution-fourth-generation war is more than seventy years old and is reaching maturity. While we are only beginning to understand it clearly, history tells us the fifth generation has already begun to evolve.”

” Not only is 4GW the only kind of war America has ever lost, we have done so three times:

Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia. This form of war has also defeated the French in Vietnam and Algeria, and the USSR in Afghanistan. It continues to bleed Russia in Chechnya and the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in other countries against the al-Qaeda network.”

Just a short reference to the problem of 4GW that we are facing in Pakistan today. This is just logical to assume, since America has been losing the repeatedly, despite her having far better technology and resources, she has decided to initiate a similar warfare in the regions she desires to have in ethnically divided smaller pieces. Although, her direct invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria can be counted as not a very strategic manoeuvre but at the same time her assistance in the form of quiet approval of Indian backed RAW and involvement of MI5 in collaboration with Mossad in purporting sectarianism and segregation on ethnic basis in Pakistan speak alot about the state we are in today. Destabilizing the state of Pakistan, by fuelling anarchy and chaos at all levels till the time the state can be declared as a ‘failed state’, is the main target. The seeds of discord and eventual failure were planted in Pakistan right after the state came into being in 1947. The failure of institutions, the planted politicians, with the help of spineless rascals who claimed higher positions in the state governance, the use of the masses for self interest, rather abuse of the people and mandate of the populace have all always been interlinked.

At the same time palpating the pulse of general population and feeling the beat of religion, it was never a coincidence but a well charted out plan to throw the reins of the rampaging steed of religion in the hands of the least educated and least privileged class. The plan was to hit the nation united for Islam, at the spot where it will cause most destruction. It worked. We turned our back to what was our strength. The result: We are not one on even the point if we can read the Quran without performing the ritual of ablutions.

The Mullah culture which was supposed to be the scholar elite hypothetically, gave us an enormous outpouring of Molvis who can declare us Muslims or nonMuslims on the basis of the size of beard, timing of salaah, the length of men’s trousers and the headgear of women.

The super powers of the world have learnt too well, ‘when the conventional fails, the unconventional wins’. So the unconventional invasion of Pakistan is happening now. We need to open our eyes to the enemy’s lair we are being pushed forward into. It’s not some obscure reality that sectarianism, insurgencies, assassinations, and even certain mass movements anywhere in the world can be traced back to the involvement of Mossad, Shin Bet, AMAN, MI5, RAW, and CIA, all of them working separately as well as in collaboration during various historical milestones of the world.

Fourth-generation warfare (4GW) blurs the lines between war and politics and combatants and civilians. Non-state entities like BLA, MQM, Jialas and Leaguees use tactics of education,propaganda, movement-building, secrecy, terror, and/or confusion to overcome the technological gap with the state owned forces and to override the strong cultural and religious beliefs.

This is similar to super powers and major powers attempting to retain their grip on colonies and captured territories.

All the defining characteristics of a 4GW are outstandingly apparent in the forms of TTP, MQM and BLA and to a small extent in the PPP and PMLN. The latter two as opposed to MQM and BLA have vested interests in a frail state of Pakistan rather than the disintegration of the state.

The conflicts of TTP, MQM and BLA with the armed forces and the state involve elements that are complex and long term. They use terrorism tactics, a non-national and a transnational base which is highly decentralized. They attack directly on the culture of ‘Pakistani nationalism’ and do not refrain from genocidal acts against civilians. They are using highly sophisticated psychological warfare, especially through media manipulation. All the available pressures are being used by them political, economic and social against the state and our military . Involving actors from all the networks they are engaging the military in low intensity conflicts.

The tactical dilemma here is the noncombatants working against the state. The spread out network of communication and financial support of BLA, MQM, TTP, Deobandis, and all Takfiris is loud enough for itself to be proclaimed as the arms of a 4GW. They unabashedly resort to the use of insurgency and guerrilla tactics as in all the attempts of Khwarij ( attacks on GHQ, aviation bases, APS Peshawar). The simplest definition of 4GW is one in which one of the major participants is not a state but rather a violent non-state actor, to which all the above named organizations qualify. Their main target is our nation’s infrastructure.

They are trying simply to disorganize and delegitimize the state in which they are living. The aim is to force the state adversary, the U.S. and India to expend manpower and money in an attempt to establish order, ideally in such a highhanded way that it will merely increase disorder, until the state surrenders or withdraws.

Talking of the missing persons in Baluchistan and all the liberals standing up for Balochistan, this should not be omitted that in a 4GW resistance can also be below the physical level of violence. The liberals, vocalists and their allies desire their factions to deescalate the conflict while the state escalates against them, the objective being to target the opponent, Pakistanis here, on the moral and mental levels rather than the physical level. The state is then seen as a bully by those convinced by liberals and vocalists on the missing persons and gradually loses support. So the anti state stance of BLA and MQM speaks loud and clear.

We have social media networks and the mainstream media supporting the terrorists. They are characterized by positive feedback loops, tight coupling and non-linear response propagation (viz. a small perturbation causing a large disproportionate response). I hope, I am not the only one seeing this ‘apparently unseen’ 4GW. We all have eyes and ears and we are definitely not deaf, dumb and mute.

These smaller groups of BLA, TTP and MQM, and I would like to add Zardaris and Shareefs organize into impromptu alliances to target a bigger threat (that being the state armed forces) whenever their vested interests are threatened. As a shameful and befittingly degrading result, these alliances are and will always remain weak and theoretically if the state’s military leadership is smart enough they can split their enemy and cause them to fight amongst themselves.

A state versus state conflict in fourth-generation warfare involves the use of computer hackers and international law to obtain the weaker side’s objectives, BLA’s course of action, the logic being that the civilians of the stronger state would lose the will to fight as a result of seeing their state engage in alleged atrocities and having their own bank accounts harmed.

World history is generously speckled with examples of 4GW. Irish troubles, Peninsular war, Libyan civil war, Syrian civil war, and the Rawandan conflicts may sound like a thing of the past but Egyptian crisis starting in 2011 till today, the proxy war of the allied forces in Afghanistan and the U.S.’s divide and rule policies are still unfolding all around us all the time. These are all 4GW tactics gradually bleeding into 5GW. Turning a blind eye to all these living examples of our destruction does not promise any hope.

Fourth-generation warfare goals in our case are survival of the insurgent factions like BLA, MQM and TTP at the expense of Pakistan and to convince the state, our decision makers and our armed forces here that their goals are either unachievable or too costly for the perceived benefit. I assume at the closing that this is not just my understanding of 4GW but is obvious to all of us who can disengage themselves from the mayhem resulting from this 4GW. Nevertheless, we will win! In Shaa Allah!