Nobody ever heard of suicide bombings, terrorist attacks or targeted mass killing by veiled terrorists till the end of WWII. These were all products of cold-war era, particularly during Palestinian movement for a homeland of their own. They probably thought of these tactics, which were subsequently sanctioned by their mullahs, as the most effective way to keep the enemy terrified, make their voices heard and push for acceptance of their demands. Hijacking of airliners was another tactic which was employed by the Palestinians. Then there were insurgencies like Maoist movement in India, Tamil Tigers’ armed conflict with Sri Lankan government and sectarian killing in Pakistan. The latest and most deadly conflict is between foreign-funded insurgents and the state of Pakistan. All these armed conflicts were apparently between the state and non-state actors but as a matter of fact there was some state behind the non-state actors fighting its proxy war against the enemy state. For example, Sri Lankan insurgency and Taliban insurgency in Pakistan was fueled and funded by India, sectarian killing in Pakistan was a proxy war fought between and funded by orthodox Saudi Arabia and clergy-led Iran.
This is a new kind of warfare in which armies do not fight armies; the world’s top-class armies equipped with the most sophisticated weapons are engaged in a unique war with masked and unnamed soldiers. And the latest technology, put to test in this kind of warfare is proving helpless. The states have one major disadvantage; their armies are not trained for this kind of warfare. This is called Fourth Generation Warfare or 4GW. According to military thinkers, 4GW is an extremely effective method of warfare that the US and its allies will find very difficult to defeat (a slow burn, rather than complete eradication, may be the best possible outcome). 4GW can is generally defined as a method of warfare that aims at achieving a moral victory by undermines enemy strengths, exploiting enemy weaknesses, and using weapons and techniques that differ substantially from opponents or asymmetric operations.
Fourth generation warfare (4GW) has been correctly defined as a conflict characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, soldier and civilian.
According to experts, the rise of 4GW is both a product and a driver of loss of the nation-state's monopoly on violence, rise of cultural, ethnic, and religious conflict, and globalization via technological integration. The tactics employed by 4GW are rear area operations -- 4GW warriors do not confront a nation-state's military but rather its society through psychological operations – terror and ad-hoc innovation -- use of the enemy's strengths against itself.
First generation warfare includes wars of Napoleon and is characterized by conscription and firearms as a result of decline of mercenaries. Second generation warfare includes the US civil war and WW1, characterized by firepower and nation-state alignment of resources to warfare. Classical example of third generation warfare is WW2 and is characterized by maneuver and armored warfare. All these generations witnessed progressive development of technology in aid of the warring armies. Fourth generation warfare is characterized by ad-hoc warriors and moral conflict. In this warfare, it is not the army alone but the innocent civilian population, economic infrastructure and the ethics which are major targets.
4GW is characterized by globalization -- modern technologies and economic integration enable global operations; pervasiveness -- the decline of nation-state warfare has forced all open conflict into the 4GW mold; granularity-- extremely small viable groups and variety of reasons for conflict; vulnerability -- open societies and economies; technology -- new technologies have dramatically increased the productivity of small groups of 4GW warriors. In addition to these features which distinguishes 4GW from the conventional war, global media plays an effective and decisive role and can win you the war through an incredible level of manipulation. This type of war has the advantage of networking -- new organizational types made possible by improvements in technology are much better at learning, surviving, and acting.
In brief, 4GWs are complex and long term which use terrorism as tactic; have non-national or transnational base—highly decentralized and directly attack on the enemy's culture. This type of warfare is highly sophisticated psychological warfare, especially through media manipulation in which all available pressures are used - political, economic, social and military. The war occurs in low intensity conflict, involving actors from all networks. It uses insurgency and guerrilla tactics.
As the regular armies are only trained to fight regular armies, the conflict in 4GW results in higher casualties of and other losses inflicted on the regular state armies. In order to minimize human and material losses, modern states having the advantage of technology have developed multiple weapons; the latest weapon developed after losing to insurgents is called predator drone. We can also call it a Fifth Generation Soldier of the 4GW. The latest version is General Atomics MQ-1 Predator which is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used primarily by the United States Air Force (USAF) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Initially conceived in the early 1990s for reconnaissance and forward observation roles, the Predator carries cameras and other sensors but has been modified and upgraded to carry and fire two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or other munitions. The aircraft, in use since 1995, has seen combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. For technical, operational and historical details, click here.
Since June, 2004, the CIA has been operating the drones to attack militants in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Since May 2005 the MQ-1 Predator fitted with Hellfire missiles has been successfully used to kill a number of prominent al Qaeda operatives. The use of the Predator has also resulted in a number of civilian deaths which was attributed to faulty intelligence. The drones have also been used in Balkan states, Yemen, Iraq and Libya. Due to associated civilian casualties, the people of Pakistan have been protesting against its use terming it as violation of their sovereignty. But the number of casualties of terrorist high-command suggests that drones are the most effective and efficient way to target terrorists at the least human cost.
What is more perilous; drone strikes on terrorists' hideouts or acts of terrorism?
Ground the Drones
Ground the Drones