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Is 4GW Coming to the Developed World?
Is fourth-generational warfare coming to the developed world? Quite possibly, especially when you consider the spectre of failed states in the West.
Many Western states are not quite as stable as they are made out to be. Sweden and France in particular have extensive problems with No Go Zones. Other parts of Europe want to secede, such as Catalonia in Spain, and are being violently suppressed from doing so.
Elsewhere around the world, previously first-world countries like South Africa are deteriorating in the span of a generation due to government mismanagement. The United States, for its part, is in what some have described as a “Cold Civil War,” with many futurists agreeing that the potential for outward civil war is greater than you’d like to think.
How might such a 4GW scenario play out in the West? There are two potential scenarios, one for Europe and one for the United States. Each of these is worth considering.
4GW: The European Model
For our purposes, we’re going to call this the “European Model” of 4GW. This is because this model is based on the political and social realities of life in Europe today. It is by no means the only place something like this could unfold, nor is it impossible that 4GW could unfold in an entirely different way in Europe.
4GW in Europe will likely be an outgrowth of No Go Zones and resulting failed states. Geographic areas within European nations will likely increase in size. And conflict will likely develop between the de facto areas of the No Go Zones, as well as more militant elements of the civilian population. While there is not much of a militia movement to speak of in Europe, in true 4GW fashion, people will find ways to improvise weapons out of what they have available to them.
It’s impossible to talk about this phenomenon in Europe without discussing the ethnic and religious character of the areas, as ethnic and ethno-religious conflict will likely be the infrastructure for such a war – especially since many of these areas have legal and social structures based on Islamic laws and customs.
In a scenario leading to a 4GW conflict in mainland Europe, attacks on civilians will escalate while the legitimate civilian authority is increasingly incapable of dealing with it. There will be both an inability and an unwillingness to maintain legal norms within larger and larger areas in Europe.
Next would come the formation of militias. The model here is close to what happened in Lebanon during its civil war. Militias will form around political, ethnic and religious lines. Some of these will be the No Go Zones attempting to consolidate their power. Others will be European civilians seeking to protect themselves and their neighborhoods from the growing power of the No Go Zones. This, in turn, will further fuel the breakdown in government control. Members of the government, both law enforcement and military, will increasingly pick sides in the conflict, leaving their allegiance to the rump state behind. In the end, this will make it more difficult for the state to assert its power.
The remaining government will begin taking measures against free speech and free association in an attempt to crack down and regain lost power. But at this point, the battle will mostly already be lost. Factions of the government will cease cooperating with one another, making it harder and harder to maintain order. These factions will, to varying degrees, start lining up behind the militias and parallel legal structures that have begun cropping up at the street level. This will also be the time foreign governments will step in and begin supporting local militias more. An example of this is Serbian-backed militias in Croatia and Bosnia during the Yugoslav Wars, or Israeli support of Maronite Christians and Iranian support of Shiite Muslims during the Lebanese Civil War.
Crime will increase, but not just petty street crime. Insurgent movements have a long history of using organized crime to fund their operations and the 4GW conflicts in Europe would be no exception to this. The drug trade, human trafficking and financially driven kidnapping are three examples of how militias will fund themselves using extra-legal means. This will serve as an additional cause to restrict freedom of movement through both de jure and de facto means within a nation’s borders, another case where the Yugoslav Wars and Lebanese Civil War are instructive cases. Conversely, refugee scenarios will develop, which will further complicate the situation.
4GW: The American Model
The American 4GW Model is somewhat different and is based more on ideological and political differences than ethnic and cultural ones – though the ethnic and cultural differences will play a role, as we will soon see.
In the United States, the federal system of government can play a key role. For example, while the prospect of a gun ban causing the peasants to pick up their pitchforks and torches is unlikely, a scenario where states simply refuse to enforce the law is far closer to the realm of possibility. Consider that this is already starting under the Trump Administration – cities and states are refusing to comply with the President’s directives on federal immigration law. Flipping the script, it’s worth wondering just how much state and federal compliance a federal ban on AR-15s, a high tax on ammunition, or a call for widespread registration would generate.
This could happen one of two ways: Leftist states like California and Massachusetts balk at a new federal law, or more conservative and libertarian states like Arizona and New Hampshire refuse compliance. It’s worth noting that states themselves are not monoliths. California is largely still a conservative state outside of Los Angeles and the Bay Area, while several municipalities in deep blue Massachusetts went for Trump. On the other hand, Arizona has blue enclaves like Flagstaff and New Hampshire’s cities vote almost identically to Boston.
The red state / blue state divide is very real, but it also exists within states as well as between them. In the event that a cleavage between the two political and cultural halves of America started, this divide would become increasingly unstable within the states themselves.
Unlike Europe, the United States has a homegrown militia movement that is heavily armed and, to varying degrees, ready for battle. When the AR-15 is talked about as a “weapon of war on our streets,” it is frequently mentioned in the same breath how an insurrection in the United States would never stand a chance against the modern weapons of war wielded by the federal government. This would be news to the Viet Cong. People who make such statements are unaware of the dynamics of 4GW.
While the political aspects are very real, so are the demographic ones. In particular, there is the spectre of the Scotch-Irish in Appalachia. These are a people with hundreds of years of long skepticism (and often outright hostility) toward the federal government. It’s also, geographically speaking, a very difficult place to conquer. Eric Rudolph evaded the feds for five years in the mountains of North Carolina, despite being on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List.
This segment of American society has a significant connection to both the police force and the military. Simple suggestions that local police, SWAT teams or even the military will be quick to crush such a rebellion are ill-informed on two counts. First, the aforementioned one: In many cases, the military and police who are being sent out are going to be friends, family and intimates of the Hillbilly Viet Cong. What’s more, due to the extensive military experience in this area, many of the foot soldiers of an anti-government rebellion centered in Appalachia would not only just be trained, but also battle-tested. Divided loyalties always play a role in 4GW, and the United States will be no exception.
The weapons of war are leveled in 4GW. There is air war by drones, but also the role of computer hacking, kidnapping and other unsavory activities. The point of 4GW, from the perspective of the underdog, is less about “winning” in some quick and dramatic fashion, and more about dragging out the conflict as long as possible, causing the dominant power to lose through blood loss and death by 1,000 cuts.
Consider the Vietnam Conflict: Between the end of the French occupation of Vietnam in 1954, through the Fall of Saigon when U.S. forces abandoned the city to the Viet Cong, the American Vietnam War lasted approximately 20 years. And that doesn’t count the seven bloody years of French occupation post-WW2, when French colonial forces lost approximately 100,000 troops attempting to put down the guerilla movement in Indochina.
Finally, there’s the U.S. government’s track record in 4GW. The United States does not have a solid track record of being able to defeat guerilla insurgencies. From the Filipino Insurrection in the late 19th century to the current Afghan insurgency – the United States military can make inroads against 4GW actors, but it’s never really able to seal the deal.
4GW in America: The Battle of Athens
There is a history of 4GW in the United States and we don’t need to go very far back to find it. In 1946, there was an uprising of the citizens of Athens, Tennesse (in McMinn County) to reestablish the rule of law. The story illustrates how American patriots resisting domestic tyranny can succeed in their struggles.
Citizens of Athens had complained about election fraud since 1940. The town was filled with battle-hardened veterans from both the European and Pacific theaters of World War II. This filled them with a militancy that did not exist before the war. Several citizens of Athens had complained, but the administration of Franklin Roosevelt did nothing, perhaps because the town was ruled over by an entrenched Democratic Party machine.
First, the men ran one of their own, a GI named Knox Henry, for sheriff. They wanted fair elections, so they petitioned the FBI to monitor, a request which was denied. The machine, for their part, imported 200 strong arms to “protect” the polling places from voters. In one case, a deputy pointed his revolver at a GI, ejecting him from the polling station and telling him “If you sons of bitches cross this street I’ll kill you!” Poll watchers were arrested and in one case, a black poll watcher was shot. Finally, the party machine locked the ballot boxes up in the county jail.
Despite lacking in numbers, ammunition and arms, the veterans used the keys to the local armories belonging to the State and National Guard. This evened the score considerably. They went to the jail house and requested the release of the ballot boxes, but were rebuffed with the sheriff’s men shooting two of the GIs. A firefight erupted and the GIs were reinforced by men from neighboring Meigs County and their IEDs. Eventually, the sheriff and his men surrendered, releasing the ballots.
After obtaining the ballots, the men cleaned and returned the weapons. The GI candidate was elected sheriff and several others were elected to key county positions.
This demonstrates 4GW in miniature in the United States. For those concerned about nuclear retaliation or other heavy guns the USG has, it’s worth noting that the underdog can always obtain some of these weapons by hook or by crook.
The Militia Movement and 4GW
No discussion of 4GW in the United States would be complete without touching on the militia movement, something specific to the U.S. While Europe has a history of factions in the military who oppose the government (the French Secret Army Organization is the most famous of these), it does not, to nearly the same extent as the United States, have men actively training in the woods getting ready for civilizational collapse or 4GW.
The militia movement began in the early 1980s, when it was known as the Posse Comitatus movement. It exploded (no pun intended) after the attack on the Oklahoma City Federal Building and the showdown at Ruby Ridge. By the mid-1990s, the militia movement had a presence in all 50 states and was comprised of approximately 60,000 people.
Note that the militia movement is no longer limited to the political right. Left-wing organizations have begun openly training with arms since the election of Donald Trump as President in 2016. In any kind of 4GW scenario in the United States, it’s likely that these two strains of the militia movement would come into conflict with each other, as well as the United States government. And don’t forget about the narcissism of small differences that tends to plague fringe political movements – the most bitter enemies in a 4GW conflict in the United States will likely be competing factions of left- and right-wing political movements.
Skills Required for 4GW
Combat isn’t the only helpful skill for 4GW. If you’re concerned with 4GW and want to get ready for everything to go down, here’s a list of skills for you to acquire in preparation for 4GW.
- Weapons Versatility: Let’s just get this out of the way. Combat training with a variety of weapons is important for 4GW. This is because in 4GW, combatants often have to use weapons commandeered from their enemies. What they capture can vary widely from what their unit ordinarily uses.
- Survivalism: Knowing how to live off the land is an indispensable skill for any SHTF scenario, and 4GW is no exception to this rule. 4GW combatants must know how to hunt, fish, trap, track, stay hidden, find potable water, and prep game.
- First Aid: Any time there’s combat, there are casualties. 4GW requires the knowledge of first aid at the very least. Knowing other medic skills is a welcome addition to the toolkit as well.
- Physical Fitness: Those involved in 4GW combat will have to walk long distances, often with a lot of weight strapped to their back. Being in top physical condition can mean the difference between life and death.
- Navigation: 4GW combatants need to know the area, but they also need to know how to find their way around unfamiliar terrain. That means without electronic equipment, and instead using items like compasses and maps.
- Demolition: This might also be filed under weapon versatility. Demolition is a big part of 4GW for depriving the enemy of a base and cutting off lines of communication and transit.
Many of the above skills are just as helpful when it comes to general survivalism, so you don’t have to be getting ready for 4GW to make them worth acquiring. And as with any kind of SHTF preparation and training, we hope you never have to use what you learn.
- Guest Post: Asymmetrical Warfare and 4GW: How Militia Groups are America’s Domestic Viet Cong- Part 1
This article first appeared on Ammo.com