Wishtank: There’s been some commentary around this question within the comment section of Skilluminati.com, but could you give us your definition of fifth generation warfare (5GW)? How might this differ from popular understandings of the phrase?
Justin Boland: “Solo warfare” would be the most concise. It’s slippery because both words are deceptive – “solo” implies that you’d never collaborate with other 5GW operatives, and “warfare” implies overt agression and violence.
I’m very much uncommitted to the 5GW orthodoxy, the framework is just another model to me and of course all models are toys. Toys for thinking and analysis, but toys just the same. I like to disassemble things to see how they work and ideas are no different.
In terms of the generations of war, I think the distinction between 3GW – traditional, nation versus nation warfare – and 4GW is very useful. 4GW is non-state ‘guerrilla’ organizations going to war against nations, and it’s a great unsolved problem of our time. Nations all around the world are losing these wars right now, and the USA is no exception.