My friend "F-18," who occasionally writes to this column, long ago introduced me to "situational awareness," or SA. To a fighter pilot, it means not missing a mortal danger, like someone coming up on your six o’clock position (aka "your six"). In Fourth Generation war, SA means not getting mesmerized by one aspect of war outside the state system to the point where we neglect others. At present, the focus on Iraq and Afghanistan tends to diminish our SA by leading us to define 4GW as war with Islam. Two recent news reports remind us that there is much more to it.
The first concerns Nigeria, where a tribal militia is threatening the oil export industry. A story in the September 29 Washington Post Express says, "[Militia leader] Dokubo-Asari claims to be fighting for self-determination in the region and greater control over oil resources for eight million Ijaws, the dominant tribe in the southern delta region, which accounts for most of the daily oil exports." In a Fourth Generation world, tribes will again become important entities that wage war. That it should happen early in Nigeria is not a surprise; Nigeria is a state in name only, and the Nigerian government is merely another gang. But because Nigeria is a major oil exporter, tribal war has suddenly reached out and touched America. Part of the reason that oil last week settled at over $50 per barrel was the Ijaw threat to Nigeria’s oil fields.
The second report was the headline article in the September 28 Washington Times: "Al Qaeda seeks tie to local gangs; Salvadoran groups may aid entry to U.S." The story goes on to report that "Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a key al Qaeda cell leader…was spotted in July in Honduras meeting with leaders of El Salvador’s notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang, which immigration officials said has smuggled hundreds of Central and South Americans — mostly gang members — into the United States…authorities said [El Shukrijumah] was in Canada last year looking for nuclear material for a so-called u2018dirty bomb’…"
If, or rather when, the U.S. gets nuked, that is how the bomb will most likely be delivered: not by missile but by some Central American gang. Why? Because those gangs have the best delivery system for anything illegal. Mara Salvatrucha is already waging low-level 4GW in the U.S., as many a police department could attest. And gangs, by their nature, are for hire. A few million al Qaeda dollars could easily rent Mara Salvatrucha’s delivery system. Before the rise of the state, when someone wanted to go to war, they rented whatever capabilities they needed: armies, galleys, a cook in their enemy’s kitchen who could add some "special" seasoning to his prince’s dinner, whatever. The Fourth Generation motto is, "Back to the future."
These two reports remind all Fourth Generationists to follow the old fighter pilot rule: keep your SA up. If you don’t, if you allow yourself to focus on just one aspect of the Fourth Generation threat, you’re gonna get hosed.