Author: Prof. Dr Miguel Ángel Barrios – 17/05/2019
The evolution of war Currently
Wars are a bloody and recurrent event throughout history, throughout the world have been wars since ancient times. However, the way warfare and its objectives have changed over time. One of the best-known war classifications is the four generations of modern war described by the Norh American paleo-conservative William Lind and four other US military , in a joint article of 1989 entitled “The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation”“ Later Lind published an article deepening this understanding of wars, entitled “Understanding Fourth Generation War” Let’s see how the four generations of modern war are understood:
According to Lind, this generation covers the period between 1648 and 1860 and consists of the war of lines and tactical columns, with firearms and state professional armies. In addition, according to Lind, a military culture of order was created, and here are various elements that distinguish a soldier from a civilian, such as uniforms and gradations.
This generation is part of the industrial revolution and firepower. Lind exemplifies it with the period of the first world war (1914-1918), a war based on industrial capacity and transport as well as the massive creation of trenches to protect soldiers from firepower. Lind also points out that this generation continues to maintain order in processes and procedures, where obedience is more important than initiative. The main objective of the fighting is still the enemy army.
It is a response to positional warfare based on maneuver warfare (by armored vehicles and airplanes), that is to say in the lightning war (Blitzkrieg) exemplified in the German army of the Second World War. According to Lind, the third generation is not based on firepower and wear but on speed, surprise and mental as well as physical dislocation. In addition, it seeks to encircle and collapse instead of direct contact, for example by means of a blasting attack against enemy communications to isolate its forces and block a joint sustained response. In this sense, technological superiority is crucial for success.
Given the existence of a great technological superiority, the armed opposition can only decentralize and diffuse (even hide), according to Lind. In addition, states lose their monopoly over war and wars are not only between states but also against non-state actors, such as terrorist and guerrilla groups. In this new strategic context, victory is not in a battlefield because such events no longer take place as in the first three generations. Now victory is achieved by influencing and convincing society (public opinion) of an objective country, that is, the main objective is to win the support of people and not to kill enemy soldiers. And this influence is achieved through propaganda (by both sides) and by terrorist attacks in the case of non-state actors to instill fear in an objective society and thus condition it to the demands through terror.
Hybrid and fourth generation wars
Currently there is a great worldwide debate on hybrid wars, that is, those asymmetric wars that mix regular and irregular elements whose main objective is not the military triumph in battle but the influence and social conviction in a target country. The objective is to conquer the mind, and for this it is necessary to know precisely the target society and its vulnerabilities.
Thus, the new ways of making war combine elements of color revolution and non-conventional war, that is, the use of intermediaries to carry out social protests that influence an objective country or directly the use of armed intermediaries to lead to a civil war scenario in a target country. The current action strategy requires, therefore, the artificial creation of controlled chaos in a target country.
United States and Venezuela
One of the most representative cases in the South American space is currently Venezuela, since there is evidence of how the United States has supported the anti-Chavez opposition in its escalation of social and armed protests to destabilize the country in order to overthrow the current government of Nicolás Maduro.
In this scenario, a conventional military invasion of the United States to effect a change of government in Venezuela would have a very high cost, not in a military sense since Venezuela is inferior in all technological and even numerical military levels, but in a sense of public opinion, that is, of American influence in the world. Its credibility would be further undermined and its economy would be trapped in a costly war from which to emerge victorious is the only way to save the flag, however, in light of what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 and 2003 respectively, the US military can not defeat an asymmetric force on the battlefield, but can only win when it can convince.
On the other hand, we can see that in US operations not only is there an objective of regime change, similar to the many that were carried out throughout the 20th century in Latin America and Caribe, but also the objective is the creation of a regional chaos, similar to the scenes of the Middle East that caused the destruction of Syria and Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, and the flight of millions of people who became refugees. The most representative case is Syria, with millions of refugees spread across the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan.
This leads us to think that the government of Washington not only tries to overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro, but to strike a lethal blow in South America, and to provoke another one of its endless wars, between supporters and detractors of the government (again, as in Syria), but also, think about the impact of millions of Venezuelan refugees fleeing to Colombia and Brazil.
As a result, we are not witnessing a simple ideological struggle between Chavistas and Western liberals, but also a geopolitical struggle in which the United States, in view of its worldwide retreat, also wants to reorder its immediate geopolitical space under the new Monroe Doctrine and to that needs to align all countries with Washington, and if not, then plunge Our America into an endless chaos of ideological hatred externally implanted.
(reproduced by kind permission of the Author – source: Dossier Geopolitico – Translation: Juan Martín González Cabañas )
 Colonel Keith Nightengale (USA), Captain John F. Schmitt (USMC), Colonel Joseph W. Sutton (USA), and Lieutenant Colonel Gary I. Wilson (USMCR).
Prof. Dr Miguel Ángel Barrios (Argentina) is Academic Director of Dossier Geopolitico: He holds PHD in Education – PHD in Political Science. Author of more than fifteen works of Latin American Politics, Prof. Dr Barrios is recognized by the specialized critics as one of the referents of Latin American thought