February 7, 2005
Everyone agrees warfare is changing, however, there is strong disagreement over what form that change is taking. Since 1990, the Pentagon has focused on high technology short wars. Named at various times The Revolution in Military Affairs, Joint Vision 2010 and 2020, Network Centric Warfare and Transformation, the Pentagon's view has remained consistent. U.S. forces will defeat all enemies by employing high technology to provide Information Dominance on the battlefield. U.S. commanders will be able to see everything, understand it and destroy enemy forces. Unfortunately, reality has intruded. We are involved in three wars now -- Iraq, Afghanistan and the misnamed Global War on Terror. In each case, the U.S. is operating at an information deficit. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. It reflects how war has actually evolved in conjunction with the political, economic, social and technical changes of the last half century. In fact, what has evolved is the 4th Generation of Modern War. It has been the dominant form of war since 1950 and has allowed weaker powers to repeatedly defeat much more powerful enemies. Fourth Generation Warfare uses all available networks - political, economic, social and military - to convince enemy political decision makers that their strategic goals are either unachievable or too costly for the perceived benefit. Its fundamental precept is that superior political will can defeat greater economic and military power. Wars are assumed to be lengthy - measured in decades rather than months or years. Colonel Hammes will discuss how this form of war has evolved and what is required to defeat it. In particular how the DOD emphasis on high technology, short wars has led to investing in the very expensive technology that is largely irrelevant in this form of war. He will also make recommendations of what our forces need from technology to succeed against 4GW enemies.
Col Thomas X. Hammes, USMC serves as a Marine Senior Military Fellow in the Institute for National Security Studies, National Defense University. Col Hammes provides the Institute with functional area expertise in low intensity conflict, Expeditionary Warfare, power projection and military support to civil authorities. Prior to assuming his new position, Col Hammes served as Commanding Officer, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force. He has also served as Commanding Officer for an infantry battalion, intelligence battalion, weapons company and rifle company. Most of his 29 years of service have been spent in plans and intelligence billets in Marine Corps operational forces. He has published over 50 articles and the book "The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century." Col Hammes graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1975. He is a graduate of the US Army Infantry Officers Advanced Course, Marine Corps Command and Staff College and Canadian National Defence College. He also spent one year as a Research Associate at the Mershon Center for Strategic Studies. His awards include the Legion of Merit with 2 gold stars, Meritorious Service Medal with one gold star, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with one gold star and Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal.