Dark portents of things to come

I had a very interesting conversation with a retired general today. (No, not the former USMC general of whom you’re probably thinking.) We were discussing how William Lind and his 4GW seminar had seen ISIS, or some reasonable facsimile therein, coming more than ten years ago. I thought it was interesting that the general, too, had picked up on this.

As I was editing Lind’s collection of columns that we will be publishing this fall, a few passages leaped out at me. Consider:

The current phase of the war in Iraq is driven by three different elements: chaos, a war of national liberation (which is inflicting most of the casualties) and 4th Generation War. In time, the 4th Generation elements will come to predominate, as they fill the vacuum created by the destruction of the Iraqi state.

That was written back in 2003. And that is exactly what has happened, as the non-state elements have replaced the Ba’athist national elements. Here is one that indicated, very early on, the likelihood that the resistance was not an amateur operation.

More significant than the destruction of two American tanks is the fact that Iraqi guerrillas are attacking tanks. This is an indicator that the guerilla war is developing significantly more rapidly than reports in Washington suggest. With the second stage of the Iraq war just six months old, one would expect the guerillas to be attacking only weak, vulnerable targets, such as supply columns. The fact that they are going after the most difficult of all ground targets, heavy tanks, is surprising. It means they lack neither confidence nor skill.

And finally, an early observation of the transnational nature of the developing 4GW forces.

One other indicator. A friend recently noted to me that the rapidly improving techniques we see from the Iraqi guerrillas bear a striking resemblance to those used by the Chechen guerrillas against the Russians. Might it be that we are not the only ones to have a coalition in Iraq?

ON WAR is going to be a monster of around 750 pages. Spanning six years of war, it is a treasure trove of military theory being formulated and refined in real time. If you have any interest in mil-SF, military history, or understanding the shape of the 21st century, it is a book you’ll almost surely want to read.