Today’s guest is Lt. Col Thiele (USMC-Ret.). He is the co-author of 4th Generation Warfare Handbook, which he wrote with William (“Bill”) Lind.
In the interview, Lt. Col Thiele explains that while he was working as an instructor at the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Warfighting School (EWS), he met Bill Lind, who introduced him to some of the ideas of 4th Generation Warfare. Together they began to collaborate on the 4th Generation Warfare Handbook.
Lt. Col Thiele mentions that he was motivated by the question, “What does victory look like?” He had this question after returning from deployment to Iraq where he saw that even though the violence was decreasing, the U.S. still seemed far from victory.
In the interview, Lt. Col Thiele focuses on the evolution of warfare through what he describes as three generations. The bulk of the fighting in the previous three generations occurred between state actors. That is nation state fought nation state. However, his theory is that in 4th Generation of Warfare, states will have to fight non-state actors i.e. any group with a specific cause or ideology.
We had a good conversation, and I challenged Lt. Col Thiele on a few points that are worth discussing. First, what is the difference between 4th Generation Warfare and counterinsurgency? By this, I was trying to figure out if 4th Generation Warfare was simply another name for counterinsurgency.
Second, 4th Generation Warfare presumes that there will not be state versus state hostilities in future generations. I pushed Lt. Col Thiele to explain how and why he believes this to be the case.
The interview covers a lot of ground with issues relevant to the modern-day infantry. Lt. Col Thiele talks about “light infantry” tactics and training. It is good to think about whether the infantry is being properly trained and prepared for the next fight. It is hard to predict what that fight could be. However, these types of discussions and books should get people to think and engage, which is critical to preparing for success on future battlefields.
Check out the book:
4th Generation Warfare Handbook
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