Small Wars Journal

Mr. Lind, May We Focus Our Rage Please?

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 11:58am

Mr. Lind, May We Focus Our Rage Please? By Commander Salamander

Many of you have by now have at least heard of, if not read, William S. Lind’s latest, “An Officer Corps That Can’t Score.” If not, give it a read and come back. A lot of people are taking a swing at it – and now what everyone is back from Easter doings, time for me to give it a shot as well.

Off the bat, Lind made a statement that needs immediate rebuttal;

“The most curious thing about our four defeats in Fourth Generation War—Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan—is the utter silence in the American officer corps.”

Well, I’m not sure where or who he is listening to – but there is not silence on any of these issues … and there is the problem I think…

Read on.


Madhu (not verified)

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 1:27pm

In reply to by GHD

It's strange that so many are responding in a literal fashion toward a POLEMICAL piece that, by definition, is supposed to rabble-rouse and exaggerate. I think the 4GW stuff is hooey too, but some of the reactions are certainly telling.

At times the litmus test for how true something said is, can be judged by the ferocity of the rebuttal towards Mr. William S. Lind’s case, I would judge that he is spot on.

Fourth generation warfare, I believe, relates to warfare that is conducted by populations who have determined that they cannot count on their state, their government nor on their state's military, police and intelligence forces to protect, for example, the way of life and way of governance of their community.

These traditional protective forces (the state, the government and the local military, police and intelligence forces) now being bought and paid for, being employed by and serving the interests of foreign powers whose purpose is, for example, to undermine, eliminate and replace the community's way of life and way of governance.

These traditional protective forces, thus being denied the population, this forces the population to go underground, to network -- regionally and worldwide -- with other disaffected/abandoned populations (those having similar traitorous governments) and to, more generally, find other ways and other means to protect, defend and preserve those things that are most important to them.

How to defeat these disaffected populations who, for the price paid by wealthy foreign entities, have been abandoned by their governments; this is the task that, post-the Cold War, our officer and non-commissioned corps have had to take on.

Herein our national leaders -- because they believed in the "end of history" and in "universal values" -- determined that only a relatively few troops, deployed only for a relatively short period of time, would be needed to accomplish our generally welcome state and societal transformation missions.

In this regard, our national leaders were more than terribly wrong.

So wrong, in fact, that our military -- now having to play catch-up -- almost could not pull their (our national leaders') proverbial fat out of the proverbial fire.

This overall analysis suggesting that the problem of fourth generation warfare should not, really, be considered a military problem but, rather, one of flawed political action based on terribly wrong (or simply ignored) understanding of the wants, needs and desires of other populations.

This such problem, therefore, requiring (1) a political solution based on (2) a proper understanding (and a proper appreciation) of the often very different values, attitudes and beliefs -- and correspondingly different wants, needs and desires -- of other people.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 2:50pm

There are some comments that the author seems to have forgotten over the last 13 years of war---where was the strategy, strategy, strategy and even more strategy---there was none in Iraq and AFG.

Secondly, Lind is totally correct---if a culture is to change it can only be changed from within for a true change to occur ---outside forced changes never changes internally any culture military, business and or the government.

In some aspects would have liked Lind to have brought up the five failures of a team.

Thirdly---as evidence that cultural change will never occur---why---just check the latest status of the impact of the "mission command" emphasis by the JCoS which has basically failed ---why because the officer culture up O6s did not want the change and have effectively killed it or has anyone seen any mission command article in say the last 12 months in any major military publication vs say what was printed in all of 2012.

Trust in an fear free open dialogue driven by commanders is a really hard thing to create if the very culture does not want the change.

So yes---hate to say it the author is off base in his critique.