April 2020 Book Notes: 4th Generation Warfare Handbook

For this month’s Book Notes, I’m re-reading the 4th Generation Warfare Handbook by Bill Lind, and taking copious notes.

One of the most important things to know about 4GW is that it describes the end of the state monopoly on the use of force.

All over the world,” Lind writes, “citizens of states are transferring their primary allegiance away from the state to other entities: to tribes, ethnic groups, religions, gangs, ideologies, and ’causes.'”

These groups will be able to replace, or attempt to replace, state power, authority, and legitimacy.

It also means a transition from fighting wars primarily through military means to fighting wars through political, social, economic, diplomatic, and informational means.

This is leading to internecine conflict, and the United States is no exception.

When we talk about “Low Intensity Conflict” as the model to understand our country’s current domestic conflict, we’re looking at “war by other means” along political, social, economic, diplomatic, and informational efforts.

This Thursday, 16 April at 7pm Central, I’m doing a presentation on this topic and we’ll be working our way through portions of this book.

The bottom line is that as we get closer to November’s elections, I believe we’ll see an escalation in our low intensity conflict.

That’s why it’s important to understand 4GW and how this conflict is being prosecuted by all sides.

This presentation will be for Forward Observer members only because we’ll be getting into the weeds of some important concepts. (I’ll send out details to members shortly.)

If you want to be ahead of the curve on this conflict, then come join me: https://members.forwardobserver.com

As a member, you’ll receive access to:

  • Early Warning: my daily intelligence report and podcast
  • The Intel Officer’s Bookshelf: a growing library of downloadable PDFs
  • PLUS these monthly lecture and training opportunities

Even if you don’t want to join, I still recommend the 4th Generation Warfare Handbook to those interested in this developing conflict. It’s a critical concept to understand going forward.

Until next time, be well and stay out front.

Always Out Front,
Samuel Culper

P.S. — By joining, you’ll also get instant access to my three-part Intel 101 series, which is over an hour of tactical intelligence lessons learned, training, and how-to’s. Join here: https://members.forwardobserver.com

Samuel Culper is a former Intelligence NCO and contractor. Iraq(x1)/Afghanistan(x2). He now studies intelligence and warfare.

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  1. This reminds me of a geopolitical class I actually enjoyed in university. I wish I had taken more classes. Powerful central government’s come and go – as evidenced by the ‘low-intensity conflicts’ and the transfer of allegiances as people fill in the cracks that widen into large gaps. History shows us, for example, after the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy fell into a bunch of provinces or provincial republics with the likes of the machiavellian Medicis and the Borgias and others trying to consolidate control.

    What’s not noted and what I would like to see here more of is identifying and tracking of the underlying geopolitics that does not change. For instance, following the above example, ‘Italy’ has for millenia remained ‘Italy’ (by another name, of course) because of the mountains, surrounding seas, language, customs, race, etc. Other examples are the Basques because of the Pyrenees between France and Spain and Switzerland because of the Alps.

    Geopolitics seems to be the overlooked canvas upon which Intel is painted and which is somewhat ignored because it’s too obvious. That’s a mistake because it precludes you from seeing more accurately into the future.

  2. Here’s a good local example of geopolitics by another name. From an article copied on Lee Rockwell dot com ‘Suddenly States’ Rights Are Back on the Table’: ” . . . And here is an important aspect of regional government to consider. This is not a new phenomena, or something that hasn’t been seen since the 1781 Articles of Confederation.

    It shows that there was never a “United” USA. The fault lines of politics have always fallen along eleven main regions. . . .”

    Even here the geographical aspects are only inferred. A good short article all the same. GeoInt? I’m not sure but I’ll bet it is at least part of it.

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