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Are We Becoming Victims of Fourth Generation Warfare?

Are We Becoming Victims of Fourth Generation Warfare?

(This is neither a media statement nor an invitation for party political rhetoric) by Eeben Barlow of Executive Outcomes fame.

South Africa’s national security ought to be above petty party politics. Unfortunately, it is not. I believe that many people in our government, and indeed most of our citizens, are unaware of the fact that, as a country, we are being targeted by Fourth Generation Warfare (FGW). I wrote about this phenomenon in my book Composite Warfare under the heading of 4th Evolution of Warfare. I hope that I am wrong but what I see unfolding is not merely a clash between different ideologies but a concerted effort to bring about the collapse of the country. This will impact negatively on every citizen of the country regardless of colour, language, and religion, and unless there is dedicated, driven, and urgent intervention—supported by all political parties—the momentum will merely build up over time and will become increasingly difficult to stop. Like any other conflict in Africa, FGW is about influence, interests, power, and resources. FGW is characterised by the following:
1. It is multidimensional in nature and of long term duration. The build-up is gradual and its escalates over time

2. It includes acts of armed action, terror, sabotage, violent protests, and violent crimes driven by different ideologies that act as the glue holding it all together

3. Its support base is decentralised, and it (usually) enjoys covert financial support

4. It is a direct attack on a target’s culture, past, style of governance, and its support base, and includes attacks on—and the wanton murder of—civilians

5. Hate-speech is a vital component of this type of warfare as it adds to anger, division, tension, militancy, and hatred

6. It is a highly sophisticated psychological warfare and propaganda campaign conducted through mainstream and social media manipulation, internet/cyber warfare, internet trolls, and bots

7. All potential targets are placed under pressure ie political, economic, governance, social, law enforcement, and military. This is to create the perception that the government’s security forces are either unable or unwilling to intervene, or that they cannot be trusted to secure the populace

8. It contains threats of punishment, violence and/or sanction against any person or party that wishes to intervene or counter its end-goal. This will usually be driven by a small but vocal group of people who will use a distortion of both history and facts to justify and propagate their militancy. In this process of created anger, they will threaten to resort to an armed uprising

9. It occurs in conflicts that are usually low intensity in nature and includes participants from all political and ideological sides

10. Non-participants (the populace) present the security forces with strategic, operational, and tactical dilemmas, but to the proponents of FGW, the populace standing between them and the government/security forces are merely collateral damage

11. It lacks an apparent and defined hierarchy