Where does the line between memetics and 4th Generation (Gen.) war begin and end. It’s difficult to parse. As it can go often back and forth. So occasionally I may mention actual traditional war concepts. Memetics is a first and foremost a war for a mind but an integrative one. If one added an idea or concept to an unwilling population it would be dismissed and killed like a parasite.
Thus war concepts will be integrated. So you can better understand the integrative fluid nature of what is to come.
To effectively win and wage a 4th Gen. war you need the population on your side. They are the lynchpin in all of this. If the population is ignored it doesn’t matter if your winning militarily, you will still lose. Vietnam is the best example of this. The United States had the military might, yet did not have the will to fight.
The war for the hearts and minds of populations is now the war fought, both at home and abroad. For ISIS is really just an idea. Nothing more or less. Creating, defending and destroying ideas is far more consequential than the destruction of buildings.
If possible it is better to wage an invisible war. The best war is one where the population doesn’t know it’s going on. There is less resistance if no one sees how the sausage is made. A proportional response must be used for this invisible war. As a disproportional response triggers alertness. Cognitive dissonance sets in.
The Invisible War:
Disproportional responses should only be used on two conditions only: against an equal foe or you are the underdog. There are exceptions to this, as with all things. One being if you own the moral high ground.
While an equal foe may require a disproportional response as a first strike, retaliatory strike or to break through enemy lines. If you are the overdog fighting a tiny force. The disproportional response makes one look like a bully. This as mentioned before can be violated, if one has the moral high ground. A recent example of this being Trump’s missile strike on a possible Syrian chemical weapons dump.
It should be noted that a disproportionate response gives the enemy generally speaking the ability to do the same in return. So ensure absolute victory, if doing so. Wars are generally marathons rather than sprints.
While a disproportionate response, if you are the underdog against a superior foe, looks actually even. However, the disproportionate response may make you a bigger target. So ensure the victory is worth any future costs. The disproportionate response must also not violate any moral/cultural norms.
While ISIS is a small force and continues to lose ground every passing day it does not give them the moral license to behead individuals. While their Holy book could be twisted to make the justification, the world will not stand for it. Vilifying them and making a disproportional response possible against them.
It often better to be fast than ensure accuracy. While accuracy is important the first mover advantage to control the narrative matters more than actual facts. This is why terrorists may claim responsibility before it has been fully confirmed they actually did it. While this is countered by anyone taking credit for another groups work will be met with swift force. For if you take credit for another person’s work you now open up a war on several fronts.
Operational missions should get shots on target. A first strike can easily be turned into a prolonged firefight. Initial killing strikes turn into Suppressing fire. This should be avoided at all costs. For speed in today’s day and age matter more than accuracy. For better or worse.
Mobility is King:
Do not get stuck in an area or idea. Be free to leave them behind.
“We can always recover ground, never time.”
For waging war, an insulated cell method is optimal for 4th generation and memetic war. It allows for adaptability, flexibility and decentralization. The “He will not divide us campaign” created by Shia LeBoeuf subverted by 4chan will be used as a classic example for decades to come.
A de-escalation method will always be used by legitimate overdogs to maintain power; as any other method will create more enemies than necessary. However, this de-escalation method reduces mobility and increases bureaucracy.
For those unfamiliar, this is the idea or attempt at lowering tensions or aggressions often by extraction of the occupying force, generally the overdog. Training a population to defend itself, is the best example of this. Rather than be the police force in the region, as doing so looks and feels like an occupation.
This hinders nation-states into combating non-state actors as one has to entrench while the other remains mobile. Overdogs can counter this by having mobile shock troops to counter the mobility of other actors. Although this has been currently not been successful due to levels of bureaucracy hindering shock troop mobility.
The Globalization Effect:
To prevent foreign influence you must attack the infiltration. For if it gains a foothold, much like Normandy it will become a beachhead for more.
This is why western culture spreading throughout the world matters. It breaks down various cultures into one. With English becoming the dominant language it creates a beachhead for operatives. Common language, idioms, music, movies, create the materials necessary for memetics to occur effectively.
The removal of foreign cultures makes infiltration easier, as cultural norms, language barriers and specific customs create issues. People are playing by the same rules. A global culture leaves every organization exposed and on the back foot.
Even in a decentralized structure, there will always be nodes or hubs that send and pass information through. This may be infrastructure or an actual person. Now colloquially called influencer marketing. Finding these major hubs is a major tactical advantage. As you can spread a message easily with certain hubs or can harm a network by attacking them.
Thus if you are a part of a decentralized network the number of large hubs should be expanded. Such that the loss of a good portion will not affect the overall network.
The typical style of attacking singular hubs is a common Clausewitzian style of warfare. It is no longer relevant. A force will bounce from one hub to the next only to discover several others have appeared. This strategy is the futility of playing Whack-a-Mole.
If you are trying to attack a network. These major hubs should be attacked. Not one at a time but rather the majority at once. The systemic shock to the network will dismantle it. As the group will no longer be organized due to the loss of the major hubs. However, it can also cause fracturing that may create radical fringe groups.
These are some but not all of the factors affecting war today. Understanding these various elements will lead to more nuanced thinking and strategy.