Home Views & Opinions What is Fifth Generation Warfare and how it impacts Pakistan

What is Fifth Generation Warfare and how it impacts Pakistan



The trend of misinformation and distorted facts through social media reaches its climax on January 062021 with an attack on Capitol Hill. It was the culmination of a persuasive campaign of conservative ideology in America against the present system of governance. It could also be, as it is generally perceived currently among intelligence personnel that the Russian interference in the US elections process tries to sway the US civilian population trust in US institutions. According to US agencies such as the FBI, this is being accomplished through false narrative, ideological biases, slanted and inaccurate facts exploiting the political environment. All this snooping, intrusion and distraction being caused without any physical presence of Russian accomplices, though exclusively blamed. Such invasion and incursion are known as 5th generation warfare, modern warfare, cyberwar, etc. etc.
The concept of 5GW is not new nor novel. It is an ideological, cultural and moral war minus any weapons. It skews the public opinion and distorts the perception of the masses extending a manipulated point of view to the society, engineered issues and controlled politics. In general, 5GW can be defined in the origination of conflicts.
First-generation of war required foot soldiers, swords and sticks e.g., Napoleon wars.
Second-generation war advanced to armed soldiers with firepower and the nation-state alignment of resources. For example, the US civil war and WW1
The Third-generation of war encompasses methodology, mechanization, and armored warfare. For example, tanks in WW2.
Fourth-generation warfare introduced moral and ideological conflicts and irregular warfare. South Asia is very familiar with this type of war – the irregular warfare (Guerilla war) such as in Afghanistan plus the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971 is a classic example of 5th generation warfare.
Currently, there is no commonly agreed-upon definition of 5GW. According to retired Lt Col Nasir of Pakistan Army, “5GW is an extension of asymmetrical and Insurgent warfare, whereby the enemy uses all means, conventional and unconventional tactics. It includes political, religious and social causes. Incorporating false news, sectarian differences and economic inequalities are exploited through educational and social institutions by NGOs or un-organized groups. Such ill-disposed scenarios that are highly effective led by nation-state, non-state actors or civilians to disrupt the society and institutions, therefore, some or mostly abetted and aided from within.”
In fact, the insurrection effort as observed on January 6th 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington DC was realism of the 5thGeneration Warfare (5GW) against US democratic institutions. The author Angela R. Pashayanstates; “that Russia’s cyber-propaganda within the United States over the past four years has helped divide the country ideologically to the purpose of an insurrection. Indeed, it is misinformation, promoted easily through social media in the form of advertisements, YouTube videos, and Twitter chats stoking hate and conspiracy theories reaching millions of Americans.”
In his book “Cocktails from Hell: Five Complex Wars Shaping the 21st Century”, the author Austin Bay explained the methods and mechanisms of this future war. He defined these tools as “DIME FILCH”. “The Diplomatic, Information, Military and Economic elements of power (DIME). Financial, Intelligence, Legal (law enforcement), Cultural, and Humanitarian Capabilities (FILCH)”. These are indescribable assets of the 5thGeneration War (5GW), the war that is state-centric and focused on complete dominance of the enemy. According to the Russian policy paper on Ukraine (April 2014); “the modern warfare is based on the idea that the main battle place is the mind. For permanent war main objective is to make the civilian population support the invisible attacker’s narrative to the detriment of their own institutions and policies. Concept of permanent war denotes the permanent enemy.” Basic ideological confrontations and strongly held beliefs lead to a paradigm of the permanent enemy. In the present geopolitical structure around the globe numerous permanent enemies exist due to trade rivalries, border and water disputes – vying for domination or to extend their hegemony in the region without even firing a bullet. Such is the intensity of 5thGeneration Warfare – 5GW.
However, the literature search does not reveal much about 5GW. The contents of five well-regarded journals – International Security, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Strategic Studies and Security Studies does not reveal or relate to the term “Fifth Generation War – 5GW” in the last five years. Aninternet search also does not lead to any significant content with the exception of a few news and magazine articles. The reason for the lack of scholarly attention to 5GW is that its location of operation or victims are always weaker nation and states, mostly developing world with natural resources.
Advances in software and communication technology have made cyberspace a virtual battleground where nations armed with servers and social media platforms can manipulate targeted populations and exploit their weaknesses within. Nonetheless, the elements of this modern warfare have displayed their effectiveness as noticeable from the control of the global wealth and resources among few.
5th Generation Warfare does not occur in far-off lands, away from civilian populations-it occurs in the cities and communities of real people. The civilian population becomes unwilling participants in a struggle for dominance, assertions of sovereignty or independence, or claims to land or other resources. Barring terrorist events, Americans have been mostly sheltered from this reality since World War II; however, the resurgence of world power contention between China and America makes warfare on American soil a real possibility -the war that is not be fought with bombs and bullets but with social disinformation of specific agenda.
Developing countries with limited capacity, skills, infrastructure and capabilities in the field of cyberspace are constant victims of 5GW. Barely with any access or control of networks and servers most developing world governments suffer economic & political losses on the world stage through dominating powers. Competing intelligence agencies have been using soft deterrents such as cultural & educational exchange, “Democracy”, NGOs, economic institutions and liberal think tanks to influence and control independent nations. Iran (economic sanctions), Pakistan (Inclusion in the grey list of FATF) and Turkey (sanction on purchase of Russian weapons) are prime examples of being coerced into submission preserving US influence in the region without boots on the ground. A very recent example is the European Union Disinfo Lab report -Indian Chroniclesexposing an incredible network of misinformation and propaganda against its neighbor, Pakistan during the last 15 years of operation. This network was tasked to push a pro-India and anti-Pakistan narrative in the European Union and the United Nations.
No country other than Pakistan has been plundered economically, shattered morally and ruined academically more through this silent and invisible war raged by India and other world collaborators because of not following the new world order. India still after 75 years has not accepted Pakistan’s independence because of its ideology (Two Nation Theory – two nations exist in India, Muslims and Hindus). A low-grade 5GW is being executed against Pakistan since its inception by India leveraging social and cultural similarities and geo-proximities.
Of course, for any war, specifically, 5GW requires a fertile ground and environment. Ancestorial connections, cultural and language resemblances with political and economic instability made Pakistan an easy target for India. Immediately after its independence, Pakistan developed major fault lines. These fault lines employ all aspects of the trade, religion, diplomacy and social media.The large Muslim population and their existing sectarian institutions further provide ample opportunities for the Indian establishment to undermine Pakistan by exploiting its natural fault lines. In addition, Indian social media propagandize the messages of sectarian hate, ethnicity, economic inequity, and provincialism fueled by inadequacies of the 18thAmendment of the Pakistani constitution.
For a newborn nation, education is critical – realized by British, French and Italian colonialist they focused on Pakistani education system. Few thousand Britishers took over the sub-continent thru deception and politics. Realizing the success of Lord Macaulay in destroying the age-old education system replacing it with English, Britishers, French, and Italiansalong with many brown Macaulay set to introduce a new education system for newly established Pakistan creating a major and permanent Faultline among many that shall be highlighted and discussed in part 2 as the arsenal of the 5thGeneration War against Pakistan that is to remain in a continuous war for the time to come.
(To be continued)