Tuesday, July 20, 2010

5GW: What Kind of Day Has It Been?

Note: I've set this post to update automatically at ~ 8:00 am EST on July 20th, 2010, but I'm writing it over the weekend. Because I'll be traveling on business on the 20th, I won't know what other bloggers - my coauthors - are posting about the Handbook of 5GW, but I will say that the following blogs are certain to have some interesting posts at some point on July 20th about our book:




Coming Anarchy


Aaron Sorkin - easily one of the top two or three living screenwriters and a writer that has had a huge impact on my life - ended the first season of each of his three series; Sports Night, the West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, with an episode entitled "What Kind of Day Has It Been?" In each case the season finale tied up a number of story arcs and set up new story arcs for the next season.

And so today we face a similar event in the blogosphere with the release of the Handbook of 5GW, from Nimble Books, edited by Dan Abbott. The Handbook of 5GW is supposed to be, in my opinion, the 'end of the beginning' of the debate about 5GW, the same why the season finale of the first season of a T.V. series is the end of one story arc and beginning of another. Having watched this project evolve - thanks in no small part to the editorial work of Dr. Abbott - I really think that we have the beginning of a good conversation about less kinetic and more dispersed warfare.

Some Thoughts on My Chapter, 1 Year Later

My contribution to the Handbook of 5GW was a chapter entitled The War for Robert Taylor is about a 5GW counter insurgency operation that was conducted by the city of Chicago against the Black Kings in a public housing project in Chicago. The COIN operation I describe destroyed the insurgency by radically altering the human terrain of the area. This approach to COIN differs from 4GW ideas about COIN, such as David Killcullen's concept of the Accidental Guerrilla because, rather than trying to understand and leverage the primary loyalties of the population - which is what both the Anbar Awakening and the current tribal engagement strategies in Afghanistan do - Chicago's COIN operation set out to destroy and reorient the population's primary loyalties, away from the close to home "tight network" family-community (hood) dynamic to a "loose network" individual-state dynamic. Perhaps counter-intuitively in our anti-government, pro-entrepreneurial society, the government's COIN operation in Chicago was specially designed to destroy private sector relationships (although black market) and replace them with a dependency upon the state. This was done because state dependency was considered the lesser evil when considered against its black market alternative.

When considering my contribution to the 5GW discussion, we should consider the ratio of horizontal to vertical relationships in a human terrain area (be it a nation-state, sub culture, community, etc). In this context horizontal relationships describe "organic" human-to-human relations. This means blood relatives, spouses, extended family, friends, coworkers, community, etc. On the other hand, vertical relationships describe a relationship between the individual and the Leviathan - the state in most cases. In the case of Chicago the horizontal relationships had grown too strong - creating a classic insurgency controlled temporary autonomous zone within the inner city - and needed to be broken by a reassertion of the authority of the Leviathan. So what the city figured out was how to use a 5GW to break horizontal relationships and force individuals to turn to the vertical relationship offered by the state. This type of warfare may have wide ranging implication, from destroying narco-terrorists like the Black Kings to engaging in various social engineering projects. Indeed, the bulk of Lydon Johnson Great Society may have been 5GW operations that tried to destroy more informal, horizontal networks that were designed to help the poor and replace them with a vertical relationship with the state.


Read the book.


Anonymous said...

5GW is "indistinguishable from magic"

I can't wait to dig-in to this important book. This information needs to go viral, because I believe there is no other concept more important in understanding today's world.

By the way, here's a guy promoting 4GW in a heavy way, and not to the advantage of the public.


Fear and Loathing in the Blogosphere said...

I like John Robb's blog. I liked "Brave New War" (his book) and I think a lot of what he has to say about resilient communities is very useful - but - I don't necessarily agree with his conclusions about the hollowing out of the state in general. I do think his conclusions apply to parts of Pakistan and Mexico, but not so much in the U.S. where our system has proved remarkably resilient.

Purpleslog said...

Robb's stuff is distinct from 4GW.

Along time ago,this post and its comments covered alot of the ground:


I don't think Robb's GG concept is 5GW either: