Catino pdf from ancient to modern war: An Overview of Fourth Generation Warfare
Martin Scott Catino, Ph.D.
Henley Putnam Univ.
OBJECTIVES OF THIS
1. Historical: Understand the general trends in the
application of warfare from the ancient to the
2. Analytic: Understand the key elements and
sub-components of warfare in each era or
3. Situational Awareness. Understand the
current asymmetrical nature of warfare.
4. Framework: Use the 4GW theory as a basic
1. 4GW is the notion that four distinct
generations of warfare existed in the modern
era (AD 1648-present).
2. Each period had a unique application or use
of force, configuration of combatants, and
relationship to the population.
3. The current period or 4GW is similar to the
pre-modern (ancient) era in that the nation
state no longer has a monopoly on making
3. Area: city,
THE ANCIENTS: Diverse
2. The Bout
i.e., David vs. Goliath
3. Punitive Raids
5. Guerrilla war
THE ANCIENTS: Diverse
Aims and Effects
1. Psychological: cow, deter,
2. Material: gain resources, land,
trade routes, and populations
3. Judicial: punish, depopulate,
desolate (striking populations and
4. Political: rule over areas and
THE ANCIENTS: Direct Linkage of
Populations and Armies
1. Armies protected
populations from annihilation,
enslavement, and other
2. Armies were the total
protection of the population,
and not a deployable force
separate from domestic
3. Military class assumed often
the highest level/class of rule.
army was thus
The Four Generations of
1. Mass/manpower: AD. 1648-World
War I (circa 1915)
2. Firepower: World War I to World War
3. Maneuver: World War II (1939 to
4. Asymmetrical: (1945 to present)
Major Variables in 4GW
2. Leadership and the
3. Military doctrine and
4. Role of the
population and the
First Generation Warfare:
1648 to World War I (circa 1915)
2. Military Discipline and
3. Limits of technology:
smooth bore rifles
4. States and rules of warfare
5. State has near monopoly
on making war
6. Linear battlefield
Second Generation Warfare:
Firepower. World War I to World War II (1939)
1. Technology leads the
development of warfare
as artillery, machine
guns, and rifled bore
2. Battlefield is linear
3. State retains near
monopoly on the use of
Third Generation Warfare:
Maneuver (World War II)
Armor and Mechanized
1. Doctrine: Military thought drives
force deployment to overcome
firepower and static armies.
2. Battlefield: striking to depth and
opponent’s communications and
support causing collapse of
3. Technology increases command
and control as radio used
strike in depth.
Fourth Generation Warfare,
1945 to Present
1. Mind: Psychological Operations (Psyops) become primary
and seek to degrade and collapse national will of opponent.
2. Time becomes a chief weapon to exploit by prolonging
conflict and thus expense in blood and treasure.
3. Space is traded for time, becomes critical for hiding and
sanctuary, and for expanding the battlefield to civilian areas.
4. Cover becomes more critical for operations as combatants
appear and blend with civilian population, cover their
aggression in Information Operation campaigns, and rely in
military deception (MILDEC) for movements.
Major Changes in Context
1. Nation states: loss of monopoly of force,
technology, and diplomacy, and area control.
2. Technology and weaponry. Accessibility,
diffusion, and affordability.
3. Volatility of society: globalization as
integrating and disintegrating societies.
4. Media: decentralized, accessible, and more
1. Range of unconventional
2. Space and cyberspace
3. Economic warfare
4. Political warfare
5. Information/media wars
6. Hybrid: crime, terrorism,
natural disaster, economic
and political warfare.
1. Understand the major variables affecting the
conduct of war: leadership, nation states, technology,
and military doctrine/thought.
2. Understand the fundamentals of ancient
warfare and the modern 4GW model.
3. Understand the basics of modern warfare/
4. Understand the dimensions of modern