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Fourth generation warfare (4GW) is conflict characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, soldier and civilian.
The military doctrine was first defined in 1989 by a team of United States analysts, including William S. Lind, used to describe warfare's return to a decentralized form. In terms of generational modern warfare, the fourth generation signifies the nation states' loss of their near-monopoly on combat forces, returning to modes of conflict common in pre-modern times.
The simplest definition includes any war in which one of the major participants is not a state but rather a violent non-state actor.
Classical examples, such as the slave uprising under Spartacus or the assassination of Julius Caesar by members of the Roman senate, predate the modern concept of warfare and are examples of this type of conflict.
As such, fourth generation warfare uses classical tactics—tactics deemed unacceptable by traditional modern thinking—to weaken the advantaged opponent's will to win.
Fourth Generation Warfare is defined as conflicts which involve the following elements:
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