In 1989, the Marine Corps Gazette (Oct.89, pp 22-26) published an article, the authors of which marked the beginning of a discussion about the “fourth-generation wars”
“... The previous generational shifts, especially the transition from the second to the third generation, were marked by an ever stronger emphasis on certain central ideas. At least four of them, in all likelihood, will pass into the fourth generation and, moreover, will have an even stronger influence.
The first such idea is the “mission-type order”. Each time the transition to a new generation was marked by an increasing dispersal of forces on the battlefield. In a fourth-generation war, the battlefield is likely to include the entire society in whose name the enemy is fighting the war. Under these conditions, dispersal, as well as, in all likelihood, increasing the significance of the actions of very small groups of combatants, will require from combat units even the lowest level of flexible actions based on knowledge and understanding of the intentions of the higher command.
The second is a reduction in dependence on a centralized logistics system. Dispersion, coupled with the ever-increasing importance of speed, will require a high degree of readiness to maintain existence at the expense of the surrounding terrain and the enemy.
The third element that the fourth generation will probably inherit is a greater emphasis on maneuver. Massaging and firepower will no longer be the deciding factor. Moreover, mass character can be an unfavorable factor, since it makes it easier to find targets for destruction. There will be a tendency for small, highly mobile and mobile forces to prevail.
The fourth key idea will be the direction of actions to achieve internal collapse of enemy forces, and not to their physical destruction. The targets for defeat will include such “things” as support for war by the population and the culture of the enemy. Of great importance will be the accurate identification of the strategic foundations of the enemy’s combat potential.
On the whole, it appears that fourth-generation military actions are likely to be highly dispersed and for the most part undefined; the dividing line between peace and war will be blurred until it disappears completely. The war will be non-linear to such an extent that, quite possibly, it will lack identifiable battlefield and front lines.
The distinction between “civilian” and “military” is likely to disappear. Actions will be simultaneously directed to the entire "depth" of the parties involved, including their entire society, understood not only in its physical, but also in its cultural aspect. Large military facilities such as airfields, fixed communications centers and large headquarters will become rare due to their vulnerability; the same is likely to affect their civilian equivalents, such as government residences, power plants and industrial sites (this applies not only to the manufacturing industry, but also to the "knowledge economy"). Success will depend heavily on the effectiveness of joint operations, since the dividing lines between tasks and the responsibilities of different participants will be blurred. Again, all these elements are present in the wars of the third generation; the fourth generation simply strengthens them ... "
It can be seen that all four signs have largely already manifested themselves in the Syrian war. The enemy of the Syrian army fully mastered the strategy of waging the war of the fourth generation while the Syrian army is fighting, based on the ideas of the previous generation of wars. The most important characteristic of the third generation was the maneuver in time and space as the basis of operational actions. However, operational art was powerless against a completely different way of conducting military operations, which spread to the entire operational depth - throughout the country. Space for maneuver left.
This is what can explain the strange fact - the poorly trained and much more weakly armed militants of the SSA and the “Front of Nusra” on equal terms oppose the more numerous and possessing much greater firepower to the troops of the Syrian army.
In fact, the militants have managed to turn the merits of the Syrian army into its shortcomings - which explains the obvious paradox. The question arises - how is it possible that the illiterate, poorly trained detachments and the command of the militants manage to develop so advanced a strategy of warfare, conduct training, work out the interaction ... Most likely, we are talking about the fact that the militants are just a tool for developing new technologies and the ideas of warfare, which are managed by completely different people, sophisticated in military advanced science.
Nevertheless, the Syrian army with blood, losses in people, territory, civilian population, material losses and the colossal destruction of the country's economy is amazingly fast learning to fight and resist a completely new way for it to conduct combat operations.
One of the main innovations that the Syrian army has apparently begun to use at the tactical level is that on the basis of different types of troops, small general mobile groups have begun to be created, capable of conducting military operations in isolation from the bases and main forces. Judging by the information in progress, it is such groups that conduct operations in the suburbs of Damascus, in Aleppo and Homs. The “ordinary” army performs more intrinsic tasks — intercepts roads, creates roadblocks, conducts combined-arms operations against militant groups. It is difficult to say how quickly the Syrian army will be able to adapt to such advanced methods of war - however, the fact that during the 2012 of the year it managed to repulse large-scale offensive events of comparable masses of militants three times shows that the training takes place quite within a reasonable time. The question arises - when the Syrian army will be able to move from defensive to offensive, given that it is not clear where exactly to attack in such a war. Apparently, it depends on the answer to this question - who exactly will be able to win this war and when.
Most likely, the experience of the Syrian war will be most seriously studied among the technologists of warfare and must be applied against Russia as soon as it is decided to transfer the actions to its territory. How serious the Russian military will be to the Syrian experience is an open question. I would like them to study it before they have to learn from their own ...
... The main task that the aggressors have managed to accomplish is to create a mobilization structure that continuously supplies militants through training camps with a dynamic that surpasses the dynamics of their extermination by the Syrian army. It has already been pointed out that an almost network-based structure for managing war in Syria has been organized, where the mobilization is the responsibility of the CIA-led commanders of Islamist groups, who have authority among the military units and groups of the entire Middle and Near East, which are a kind of “military commissariats” recruiting for holy war.
It is obvious that the worked out interaction of such a structure with the system of training militants in the camps of Fezzan, Iskenderun, Lebanon, the Pakistani Tribal Zone and the Sunni radical groups in Iraq will be in demand in the future. Destroying such a structure, thus breaking the enemy’s mobilization capabilities, is almost impossible - firstly, due to the fact that the destroyed camps will almost immediately be recreated in other places or right at the site of the destroyed, secondly, due to their dispersion throughout the “Gray” territories, completely uncontrolled by the authorities of the states on whose nominal territory they are located.
Fourth Generation Asymmetric War
- El murid