Generations of warfare

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Concept.png Generations of warfare Rdf-icon.png
The concept of how to wage a war has evolved over time, along with technology. With the 4th generation of warfare it has been specified (along with other more recognizable military strategies), that every domain of social life is to be considered a battlefield.

From: The Defense Death Spiral by Franklin C. Spinney, see also Fourth-generation warfare.

1st Generation: Driven by Ideas

  • Linear Tactics of Column and Line Regularity Driven by Culture & Technology
  • Operational Art Intuitive Napoleonís use of Time & Space to Set Up Decisive Battle on His Terms

2nd Generation: Attrition Warfare, Driven by Technology

  • Materialschlacht or Industrial War of Attrition - Civil War to WWI and Most of Allies in 2nd WWII (some exceptions like Patton)
  • Linear Tactics - Regularity Driven by Technology (Indir. Arty, Mach. Guns, Barbed Wire Gave Advantage to Defense)
  • Operational Art - Procure Success from Top Down: Move Around Defense to Destroy Adversary in a Battle of Encirclement.
  • Space-Time Decisions Synchronized 1st by Molke, Based on Mobilization & RR (e.g., Schlieffen Plan)

3rd Generation: Maneuver Warfare, Driven by Ideas

  • Infiltration Tactics (1918) - Blitzkrieg (Guderian) - USMC & OODA Loop (Boyd, 1980s)
  • Nonlinear Tactics - Evolve Penetrations based on Ideas of Surfaces & Gaps, Recon Pull, Multiple Thrusts, Mission Tactics & Decentralized, all harmonized, by Ideas of Commanders Intent & Schwerpunct, etc.
  • Operational Art - Dismember & Collapse Adversary by Penetrating Mind-Time-Space Frame of Reference (ie., Penetrate His Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action Loops, 1st Recognized by Boyd)

4th Generation: Irregular Warfare by State & Non-State Actors, Driven by Ideas

  • Revolutionary (Lawrence - Mao - Giap ) - Ethnic/Tribal/Religious - Gang - Terrorist - etc
  • Tactical Penetration Techniques Still Developing, But are Clearly Spreading w/ Unknown Implications.
  • Operational Art - Collapse Adversary by Bypassing Army & Attacking Population, Culture, & Institution.


An example for the application of the 4th generation warfare against an enemy nation by attacking "Culture, & Institution" can be found in the paper: "From PSYOP to MindWar:The Psychology of Victory" by Paul E. Vallely, which was made for the 7th Psychological Operations Group, United States Army Reserve - co-authored by Michael Aquino. Like Zbigniew Brzezinski in Between Two Ages, the use of technology to alter the electromagnetic function of the bodies of whole populations is also shortly discussed.

References