4th Generation Warfare Interview and Yes There Are Lessons for Policing

Episode 16 of the Professional Military Education podcast features Lt. Col Gregory Thiele (USMC-Ret.). He co-authored a book called 4th Generation Warfare Handbook with William S. Lind. The book explores the idea that military history has entered a new generation- the fourth one.


If you’re thinking, “Wait… there were three other ‘generations’ of warfare?” Then you are not alone. I asked Lt. Col Thiele about the other three. He provided an explanation that was interesting.

Listen to the interview! Also be sure to check out the links provided to both the book and the articles provided that shed much light on the changing face of war and how the line between civil and military are blurred, creating friction in decision making.

"In broad terms, fourth generation warfare seems likely to be widely dispersed and largely undefined; the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. It will be nonlinear, possibly to the point of having no definable battlefields or fronts. The distinction between "civilian" and "military" may disappear.

Actions will occur concurrently throughout all participants' depth, including their society as a cultural, not just a physical, entity. Major military facilities, such as airfields, fixed communications sites, and large headquarters will become rarities because of their vulnerability; the same may be true of civilian equivalents, such as seats of government, power plants, and industrial sites (including knowledge as well as manufacturing industries). Success will depend heavily on effectiveness in joint operations as lines between responsibility and mission become very blurred. Again, all these elements are present in third generation warfare; fourth generation will merely accentuate them."

Yes the ideas can be transferred to policing and policing should be aware and evolving in their leadership, education and development towards that of a learning organizations.

Stay Oriented!