Keywords: al-Qaida, fourth generation warfare, guerrilla warfare, insurgency, Boyd, John, OODA loop, internet, networked transnational organisations, first responders, terrorism
Operations other than war: what they are, and why
Since the advent of nuclear weapons, war as a mechanism for conducting policy has become restricted to situations where one or both participants do not possess these devices. In the case of the USA and other developed powers, such 'wars' have become ever more one-sided affairs, where the lesser party has had no success on the field of battle. Once the battle is over and the enemy's capital occupied, however, conventional powers have had much less success. In the period of violence that follows, conventional military forces have proven vulnerable to increasingly more sophisticated and successful techniques that trace their roots back to guerrilla warfare. Since the end of the Soviet-Afghan War in 1989 and the rise of al-Qa'ida as a result of that war, transnational organisations have combined proven guerrilla techniques with new technologies such as the internet to bring insurgent-type warfare not only to the occupying forces but to the streets and cities of the developed world. Instead of 'Operations Other Than War' (OOTW), some military analysts prefer the term 'fourth generation war' to describe conflict with these networked transnational organisations. Because these groups can and do attack developed countries, First Responders (1RP) in those countries are confronting threats far more dangerous than what they are trained and prepared for. Techniques developed by the military for dealing with 4 GW should be infused into the 1RP community as quickly as possible to deal with this situation.