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5th Generation Warfare: Hybrid Warfare by Non-State Actors targeting the System of State

(Within the context of current global events, this image is fitting to the current situation in Ukraine. However, this is not Ukraine, but a scene from the July 14, 2021, mass looting and public disobedience event that played out in Durban, South Africa, a country supposedly not at war. The situation erupted when former President, Jacob Zuma, was arrested for contempt of court relating to 783 corruption charges under investigation against him during his political career. Jacob Zuma is a major ally and supporter of Russia, especially Vladimir Putin dating back to the era of the Soviet Union, and various indicators highlight Russian involvement in the facilitation of these events. In Africa, the past 20 years serves as an example of tactics and effects of 5th Generation Warfare, and how it is applied to destroy every function that constitutes the center of gravity of a target society to the benefit of belligerent forces, these forces generally unseen and unknown by the public, and not necessarily expanding any foreign State interests, but rather agendas of compromised individuals).

South Africa, July 14, 2021

[Warning: This article is based on internal ADF information sources and analysis which includes confidential results derived from own collection efforts and resources. Where open external sources are used, sources will be referenced. Where confidential sources are used, no references are provided. This is an opinion piece, not an academic paper to prove anything or anyone right or wrong. The purpose of this article is to create awareness amongst our allies to effectively counter the effects of our enemy's actions against the West].

On February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation invaded the territories of Ukraine. For many this came as a major surprise, but the reality pertaining this war is that it has been in the making for decades based on flawed perceptions derived from incomplete, biased, and inaccurate historical records spanning over many centuries. When ADF Command commissioned the development of this idea into an article for debate and analysis shortly after the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the world was exposed to a different means of warfare with various battles being fought within especially the digital space with a much greater impact on the current global situation than resulting from the kinetic activities on the battlefields of Ukraine. One of the major effects of this war is how great a divide exists in terms of global public perception, especially taking into consideration that this war is reported on via mainstream media (MSM) globally, and each mainstream media outlet is communicating a varying narrative influenced by the respective agendas of the primary sources of revenue they depend on to survive within an ever-expanding decentralization of the global information landscape. Now, looking at the kinetic side of the war in Ukraine, we are witnessing an advanced version of 4th Generation Warfare (4GW). However, looking at the information landscape, we are seeing something different and much more complex and destructive in terms of the digital war of perceptions being fought on all sides of the conflict, especially within the traditional Western governments. This new phenomenon might signal that warfare has evolved from what we currently define as 4GW to the next level, namely, 5GW (5th Generation Warfare).

"World War 3 is a guerilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation."

Marshall McLuhan

July 21, 1911, to December 31, 1980

The problem with that statement relating to 5GW having "evolved from what we currently define as 4GW" is that it does not make sense within the framework of what we as military practitioners consider to be the acceptable 'prior' generations of warfare. In this journey we made various discoveries of how the concept of 'military science' is in fact flawed (leading to inaccurate interpretations of what military evolution is), including how academic opportunism also corrupts military studies and conclusions within professional armed forces who actually study warfare on a daily basis.

"Science is the only self-correcting system of knowledge known to history.

William Glen

Historian of Science, 1932 - Present

To address this problem more effectively, we first need to understand what both science and history is from a military studies perspective. For the purpose of this article, the most simple definitions for both military science and military history are as follows:

Military Science: A self-correcting system for analyzing military activities. It is NOT a means of enabling good story telling, illustrating heroics in battle to achieve a simple satisfying story leading to a memorable idea. Its purpose is not to define clear beginnings of an event leading up to a precise conclusion being perceived as either favorable or unfavorable. It is a process of constant analysis, scrutinization, fault identification, correcting, and adaptation. For this reason, true military science within its perfect form is in fact always 'wrong', which is also the primary reason why the majority students as cognitively aware creatures struggle to effectively deal with military science as being only a method, and why people most often choose to accept simpler [but flawed] explanations which has a start point leading up to a logically explainable ending or clearly defined conclusions. It is also this attribute of human behavior in response to the method of military science which is commonly exploited by the 5GW belligerent to its own benefit.

Military History: The available record of past military events. This, however, does not imply that the records are 100% free of any fault or manipulation, and it also excludes past historical records that no longer exists (as a result of the destructive nature of warfare, the intentional destruction of conquered records by a superior military force, or the intentional concealment or denial of access to past military records for various reasons both justifiable and unjustifiable). Basically, what we consider to be acceptable 'military history' now is based ONLY on the limited availability of information that was accessible at the time of study [record] subject to the depth and competence of resources allocated to the study which in many cases only reveal partial relevant details, not necessarily correct and/or incorrect.

In addition to better understanding these two definitions, we also need to be aware of the concept of 'retcon' referring to:

"the act, practice, or result of changing an existing fictional narrative by introducing new information in a latter work that recontextualizes previously established events, characters, etc."

In this article we shall discover how 'retcon' plays a significant impact on the accuracies of what we perceive to be true or false today, and why it is so much part of the 5GW belligerent's toolkit, especially in present-day Russia dating back to the era of the Soviet Union and its damaging legacy of false global propaganda narratives which still remains in effect to this day.


If 5GW builds upon previous generations of warfare, then what are the previous generations of warfare? The most simple categorization of previous generations of warfare are commonly [but incorrectly] accepted as follows:

1GW: Line and Column Warfare

2GW: Linear Fire and Movement Warfare

3GW: Maneuver Warfare

4GW: Insurgency-, Asymmetric-, or Unconventional Warfare

The 'generation' categorization of the evolution of warfare is however problematic simply because no universal consensus exists, even within NATO, which accurately and acceptably defines 'generations' in warfare from past to present. The simple answer to this dilemma is that the naming convention 'Generation Warfare' is more a catch phrase than it is actually real evolutionary progression in the concepts of warfare. However, without dismissing this as opportunistic nonsense by someone trying to ink his/her name as part of an academic study to establish some form of credentials, we first need to explore whether the idea of 'generations' is actually relevant in the study of the evolution of warfare. Again, just attempting to define the most appropriate meaning of 'generation' within the context of warfare is difficult simply due to the vagueness of the various language definitions. However, the noun 'generation' was derived from the Latin word 'generatio' which basically means 'to produce'. As technology evolved during the late 20th century, the term 'generation' was used to imply 'a set stage in the development of a specific technology' which in turn influenced the use of the term 'generations' to differentiate different stages of military technology evolution as primary driver of technological evolution in human society. Therefore, the most acceptable use for the term 'generations' in reference to the evolution of warfare would imply the different stages of technological advancement in warfare during the history of modern humanity by comparing the following metrics for technological advancement:

  • Military design;

  • System of Government;

  • Economic Model; and

  • Measurement of Productivity.

These factors are all interlinked, and they all influence the respective rates of technological advancement within a society until this day. The following matrix summarizes how these factors link into another, and how it influenced the evolution of warfare to what we are discussing now as 5th Generation Warfare:

The ADF Generations of Warfare Model (Copyright: ADF). This matrix is an abridged product of another ADF commissioned study to be presented in a separate article.

What we can derive from the aforementioned matrix is that within the present day, everything that follows since 3GW still remains relevant on the modern battlefield, but supplemented by the more advanced concepts that evolved within 4GW and 5GW. However, 1GW and 2GW concepts are still commonly applied within the pre-industrial under-developed world, especially in the majority of Africa. An interesting point of note regarding the evolution of warfare is its historical relationship with the evolution of agricultural practices within a society. The more advanced the forms of production, the more advanced a society's military capabilities. In other words, the key drivers of military evolution therefore also follows the evolution of both politics and economy within a society. Collectively these three drivers of human society form the trinity of power of the State:

The Trinity of State Power (ADF).

What the trinity of State power implies is that a nation has to maintain all three forms of power to be considered effective in its projection of State power at the international level. In other words, a State's economic power is compromised the moment either military- and/or political power is degraded. To develop economic power, a State needs to maintain effective military power AND supporting [competent] political power. To maintain effective military power, a State has to benefit from favorable economic conditions based on suitable economic policy developed by an efficient and capable political government. Political power is achieved within a favorable economic environment supported (safeguarded) by an effective military capability. For this reason, we shall observe in this article how the concepts of 5GW basically targets the trinity of State power with the sole purpose of degrading State power towards achieving decentralized anarchy to the benefit of a small group of non-state actors, some of these belligerents still following ideologies dating back centuries.

Therefore, in the absence of any universally accepted definition, ADF defines 5GW as Hybrid Warfare by Non-State Actors targeting the system of State as the main subject of discussion within this article.

What is 5th Generation Warfare?

"Amateurs seek to shine in the light, only to get burnt. True power remains within the shadows."

Author Name Withheld, ADF

At present there is no formal definition for 5GW yet. However, what we do know about the idea of 5GW is that it exploits the information domain with an extensive focus on the manipulation of thoughts and ideas within a target audience, or in other words, a war of ideas which is primarily established through the manipulation of perception in favor of achieving a greater goal. One of the major tools in this function of warfare is Perception Management, where perception as a human characteristic has been exploited by government security agencies for most of the past century. Now, analyzing perception as a human characteristic, we know that perception depends on state of consciousness which in turn is interconnected with awareness, the most dominating forms of awareness being situational awareness and self-awareness:

Situational Awareness: The comprehension of environmental elements with respect to time and space, deriving meaning from these events, and foreseeing possible outcomes from these activities.

Self-awareness: The experience of one’s own individuality and personality.

For both these types of awareness, people require appropriate knowledge and experience. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which side of the application spectrum we are), taking into consideration the fact that humans are by nature indolent creatures, we must be appropriately educated and stimulated to expand knowledge and experience through the application of knowledge. However, as we increasingly observe around us as technology evolves, people are becoming more immersed into the comforts of consumer technologies as a means of escaping reality, and this evolving social characteristic allows belligerent forces a means of exploitation of the cognitive domain of normal people (target audience). Information is immediately available at the touch of a virtual button, but how accurate is the information acquired via the simplest means? Another factor to take into consideration is that people are conditioned to pursue [unrealistic] expectations as observed via mainstream media and social media. With this overflow of non-factual and unrealistic information we also observe a phenomenon where the majority populace struggle to accurately comprehend the truthful version of information (and its consequences when known), especially when the subject matter appears complicated or not interesting (the scope of consumer entertainment). Therefore, a growing factor along with growing cognitive decline phenomenon is that the majority people tend to focus their attention on the simplest, most entertaining information which does not require analytical thought processing. For many people, ignorance is a convenient mechanism to escape reality, and even if there are attempts to expand awareness based on facts and reality, the majority people will always choose to remain ignorant. However, an expanded state of consciousness also has its problems, especially for governments responsible for managing economic stability, social services, and mitigating the effects of growing disobedient masses with materialistic demands based on the inaccurate messages portrayed by the consumer driven media and opportunistic political campaigns. This further complicates the information battle space considering that much of the ‘major global events’ during the past few decades since the end of the Cold War are in fact only distractions designed to divert attention away from more serious events unfolding in the background to which no workable solutions exist. Now, analyzing perception management as a weaponized doctrine, we can immediately deduct that there should exist a desired end state (as is commonly applicable to both military- and commercial campaigns). In both these instances the end state should desirably enable some form of ‘gains’ (preferably outweighing the total cost of effort). To understand the perception management phenomenon from another perspective, the US DoD defines perception management as:

“Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems and leaders at all levels to influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in foreign behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator's objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover and deception, and psychological operations.”

During November 1999, the US Embassy in Beijing published a document drafted by two PLAAF officers under the heading “Unrestricted Warfare”. This document includes discussions about the management and manipulation of public perception as a tool of Unrestricted Warfare, and various international 5GW discussions refer to the contents of this document. The proposed PLA disinformation targeting matrix is illustrated as follows:

That said, we need to consider the idea of 5GW within the present day context as how we are observing the global fall-out from the various Russo-Ukraine conflict narratives playing out via mainstream media. Many military planners are of the opinion that 5GW does not exist, and that what we are witnessing now is but only matured 4GW. However, if we entertain the idea of 5GW as a ‘next layer’ supplementing all previous generations of warfare, we do notice that it does not necessarily follow the progressive generational model as applicable to the evolution of previous generations of warfare. However, if we adopt 'hybrid warfare' as a theory of military strategy which employs political warfare blended with conventional warfare, irregular warfare, cyber warfare and other innovative methods such as social media driven targeted disinformation, diplomacy, lawfare, and foreign electoral intervention, then we find comparison with the of 5th Generation Warfare, and that it is basically the same concept with different names.

One of the primary reasons why much confusion exists amongst warfare scholars in NATO, especially relating to differences in opinion pertaining this subject between NATO (US) and NATO (EU), is that some concepts, although being the same in theory, are divided only by differing naming protocols. The point being with reference to this article is that the theory of 5GW is in fact the same as the theory of Hybrid Warfare. One of the causes for such confusion within a military alliance which supposedly functions along uniform procedures is that some scholars in the subject of modern warfare considers military theory adoption as a form of academic competition, with various role-players seeking personal acknowledgement and reward for achievements based on the renaming of old concepts, and adaptation of the theory language to the modern era.

Now, derived from what we have observed the past few years within the Information Domain of warfare, we can identify 5th Generation Warfare (5GW) with the following unique characteristics:

  • It is a function of warfare. In other words, its purpose is to establish a new political-, economic- and social order to the benefit of its enabler(s).

  • War against non-state actor(s) or a State via non-state actor(s) as proxy.

  • It targets societies where the 'center of gravity' is degraded (CoG: “Source of power that provides moral and physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act”).

  • Extension of asymmetric warfare where the adversary uses both conventional and unconventional (irregular) military tactics and weapons.

  • Targets undefined adversary in an undefined battle space for an undefined period of time through the application of spontaneous and anonymous attacks.

  • It is a continuing global battle of narratives within both virtual- and physical space which includes political, religious, cultural and social causes (such as mass cyber-attacks not attributable to a specific actor, and mass social engineering exploiting the growing cognitive decline).

  • It embodies both violent and non-violent actions and effects.

  • Predominantly ‘fought’ within the ‘civilian’ space.

  • Includes non-lethal activities as global strategic information campaigns via mainstream media and social media.

  • Difficult identification of adversaries, with loyalty of allies being controversial.

  • Anything is an acceptable target (banking systems, critical infrastructure, social services, media, etc).

  • The primary mission is to instill fear within the target audience.

  • Manipulation of perception to enable a target group to act in a premeditated manner.

  • Belligerents can be either State or non-state, non-state actor(s) can act as primary belligerent, and target can be either State or non-state.

  • Disguising of violent force against adversaries to appear as random criminal activities (example: assassination of principal targets concealed as random armed robbery without suspecting the contrary).

  • It evolves in conjunction with evolution in consumer technologies.

  • Incudes growing dependence on, and expanded application of Artificial Intelligence to simplify C4IR on the battlefield.

To summarize, 5GW is basically considered a global war of ideas within the cognitive mission space through the promotion of narratives using the media and cyberspace as means of influence. The information strategy is designed to promote kinetic battle space objectives, and the narrative context is not necessarily the intended goal. All information activities are tools to promote traditional methods of military warfare, which most commonly exploits the vulnerabilities of people within target societies with the intent to expand divisions (based on race, religion, class, etc). The end result is mostly an oversupply of irrelevant and inaccurate ‘information’ which further creates confusion, which in turn leads to a greater adoption of differing (and conflicting) narratives to the benefit of the primary belligerent’s desired goals. What differentiates 5GW the most from previous generations of warfare is that it does NOT replace previous generations of warfare, but rather builds upon all previous generations utilizing characteristics of previous generations as needed and suitable.

Broad Definition of 5th Generation Warfare (5GW):

Based on all the factors and observations discussed up to this point, we can now define 5th Generation Warfare (5GW) as follows:

The planning, initiation, execution, coordination, and evolution of multi-domain hybrid warfare and military innovation away from the traditional controls of the State, to the control of influential and sometimes competing non-state actors which includes the phenomenon of covert State control by non-state actors via compromised authoritative mechanisms controlling a target society for the purpose of achieving non-state actor strategic economic objectives as primary goal (and not necessarily to the strategic benefit of any other nation state). Under these conditions, State mechanisms primarily funded by its beneficiaries serve the interests of its influencers and not the beneficiary public, to include suppression of public disapproval activities, and may include the State engaging in acts of irregular warfare activities through layered networks of non-state actor proxies to circumvent legal framework at both local, national and international levels to enable plausible deniability. One of the major effects of this function of warfare is that humanity, irrespective of designated military- and civilian status as prescribed within traditional humanitarian law and law of armed conflict, are degraded to either a resource or an obstacle within the target society, also applicable to a domestic society under guardianship of an aggressor [authoritarian] State. This type of warfare is further differentiated from previous generations of warfare by the growing inclusion, dependence and expansion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) without any moral controls over future consequences and/or effects, whereas awareness of distinction between human activities and AI activities are limited, with little to no existing countermeasures within a target- and related downstream society.”

ADF/FDA, 2021

One of the main attributes of 5GW is that it is a function of warfare applied throughout multiple domains (also referred to as 'dimensions' of warfare), although being primarily dependent on the effective exploitation of the Non-Physical (especially information and psychological) domains to augment operational effectiveness and efficiencies within the Physical (kinetic) domains. To understand how 5GW exploits multiple domains, the following matrix summarizes the different domains of warfare (Read: Special Operations Forces in the 21st Century: How can it help Africa?):

(Source: ADF)

Note: The idea of 'domains' in warfare should not be confused with 'generations' of warfare. 'Generations' refer to evolution, and 'domain/dimension' refers to a function of warfare. The concept of domain warfare will be explained in greater detail in future articles.

A theory by David Kilcullen pertaining 'liminal warfare' and 'prospect theory' also adds value to analyzing operational design for 5GW activities summarized in the following model:

Basically, what Kilcullen refers to as 'liminal warfare' is what is also more commonly referred to as 'hybrid warfare' (a mix of both conventional- and unconventional means of warfare). According to this model, there are three thresholds in warfare which allows an actor various options for maneuver depending on the desired objectives of the intended operation. The main considerations during planning depends on the desired benefits to be gained from an aggressive course of action, compared to the anticipated strategic outcomes resulting from a successful attack, and whether the sponsor wishes to convey a message to its perceived target(s), or if the purpose of the attack is to influence an adversary/target to react in a predetermined [anticipated] manner to enable a next course of action without detection to avoid confirmed liability.

Strategic Considerations:

The 5GW concept is extremely complex, which is one of the reasons why this subject has not been properly defined until now. However, based on the past 30 years' evolution in warfare (when 5GW evolved beyond 4GW), we identify certain characteristics normally associated with Western democratic society being weaponized by its adversaries, and consequently used against it (the target nation), namely:

Let us study things that are no more. It is necessary to understand them, if only to avoid them.

Victor Hugo, 1802 - 1885


Narcotics are chemicals and therefore the weaponized application of narcotics targeting an adversary constitutes a form of chemical warfare. If we analyze the current complexity, intensity and depth of the global narcotics trade based on the 5GW doctrine, we notice indicators of how narcotics trade has been weaponised by various known and unknown strategic role-players to achieve either (or both) financial gains to extend operational reach, and desired effect. The most well known transnational actors that weaponized drug trafficking as a 'means of warfare' (also to curtail moral dilemmas within its ranks) as a source of funding, is Daesh (aka 'Islamic State'), and the Taliban. Russia is currently suffering a major opioid epidemic amongst its youth, with the government having gone so far as to claim that the current high volume of heroine inflows from Afghanistan is at the scale of a targeted [intelligence] operation rather than opportunistic trade inspired (while at the same time, a Russian national with links to the Russian Government, Alexei Yaroshenko, is convicted in the US for drug smuggling in excess of US$ 100 million). The current narcotics situations in Spain, UK, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States are other examples of ulterior motives fueled by foreign belligerents for the purpose of degrading a target society's centre of gravity over an extended period of time through the destruction of its youth and moral values in society, also leading to the degrading of sovereign wealth through inducing increased social spending by governments, along with the long-term effects of unregulated capital flight from a target economy. This is, however, a covert Intelligence doctrine which originated during the 1960's, now applied by various belligerent states and non-state actors globally for the purpose of supporting greater strategic objectives. Another [nearly forgotten] incident dates back to 1993 when a 20ft shipping container was seized in Russia containing cocaine disguised as cans of corned beef originating from Columbia. This incident is still considered the largest recorded narcotics seizure in Russia to date. However, what this incident exposed was the involvement of the current President of the Russian Federation, who was at the time the deputy mayor of St Petersburg, and the serving Head of the External Relations Committee of St Petersburg. At the time of seizure, Viktor Cherkesov, the then Head of the Directorate of the FSB, St Petersburg, held a news conference confirming the successful seizure of the cocaine consignment by security forces, and that the consignment would be reappropriated for medical use. The consignment then disappeared. This was considered a major success to be celebrated by security forces, especially during a time when Russia was subjected to high levels of government corruption post-USSR dissolution. The incident was exposed as Operation Acapulco which was managed by Israeli gangsters via the Netherlands. The shipping route followed departure from Columbia, then transit via Sweden to Finland from where it was shipped to Saint Petersburg. The consignment was addressed to the Mayor's Office of St Petersburg, with delivery instructions to Sanitary Department facilities. Viktor Cherkesov, a long associate of Vladimir Putin dating back to their services in the Soviet KGB, became the deputy to Vladimir Putin when Putin became the head of the FSB (successor to the KGB) during 1998. On March 11, 2003, Cherkesov was appointed by Putin as the Head of the State Committee for the Control of the Circulation of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances. During October 2007, Cherkesov was implicated in the mysterious deaths by poisoning of two Russian Drug Enforcement Agency officials who threatened to expose high level oligarchs (including the poisoning of former FSB officer, Alexander Litvinenko in the UK, who was investigating Putin and his allies' involvement in corruption and cocaine smuggling at the time). On May 12, 2008, President Dmitry Medvedev sacked Cherkesov, but was reappointed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the Head of the Federal Agency for Procurement of Military and Special Equipment (which explains why the Russian Forces in Ukraine was exposed for its high levels of military procurement corruption leading up to the Ukraine invasion). However, since the 1993 seizure, narcotics trade via Russia only increased, especially its global network which benefited much from covert government security resources support via its compromised leadership structures. Basically, the purpose of Russian security agencies tasked with drug enforcement is only to limit competition, and to ensure that wholesale narcotics trade remained within the controls of the Putin connected political elite where Russian involvement is confirmed. In summary, if we look at the organisational complexity and thoroughness in planning and execution in the global narcotics trade industry, counter-narcotics policy makers should consider wholesale narcotics trade as the next evolution in chemical warfare rather than just a recreational phenomenon for the effects of uncontrolled narcotics abuse is much greater within a target society than what any military designated chemical weapon could ever achieve on the battlefield. The best example of how recreational drugs were successfully weaponised against a target nation is by studying the depth of the current fentanyl operations targeting the US youth as supplied en masse into the US from Mexico, Canada, and directly via [compromised] US ports with the technical oversight from PRC connected entities. Basically, the PRC knows it cannot counter the US at the military level, but it can very successfully target the youth which the US military machine depends upon to maintain its human resources capacity, while also benefitting financially from it at the same time (to be discussed in greater detail in a separate article to follow). Other examples of weaponized narcotics trade includes all activities by Hezbollah in Lebanon relating to heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and Captagon, the Syrian Army and its role in the manufacture and wholesale distribution of Captagon into Europe, and the Cartel of the Suns operated by the Venezuelan Army.


B-1 Mainstream Media: As the digital era developed into the current complexities being cyberspace and social media driven information sharing at a global scale, mainstream television- and print media went into decline. The majority State-owned television corporations were either disbanded or privatized after total financial collapse and mismanagement, and Generation Z & Millennials do not buy (or read) news papers. Under private control, television media and entertainment has become a tool to entertain the lower [education and financial] spectrum of society, with main sources of traditional advertising revenues in constant decline. However, these entities are 'for-profit' businesses with a global reach, and the only means they could maintain future relevance was to adapt their outdated business models to the digital transformation of collective information sharing via borderless social media to diversify income streams. The problem with having traditional multi-national mainstream media organisations who are compromised via its shareholders structures and profitability models (with high associated demands for ROI), who in turn has access to a global audience, is that certain belligerents identified opportunities through 'investment' of State capital (via various forms of sovereign investment funds), into these financially starved enterprises to enable a tool for disseminating narratives within target audiences at a global scale. During the era of globalisation, various governments could indirectly become stakeholders in foreign critical assets such as media enterprises, infrastructure, etc, why global society currently finds itself in a situation where, for instance, private enterprises in the United States are censoring US citizens sharing 'opinions' on social media about foreign government activities, even if such activities are factually true and considered irregular under US laws. The same applies to global brand mainstream media, where unbiased journalism has been sold to the highest bidder and transformed into businesses specialised into communicating narratives to the benefits of its shareholders' objectives with no regard for accuracy of information communicated, nor the consequences of their actions (such as the fall of Bell-Pottinger, 2017). The current situation is that mainstream media dominates public opinion, and it shapes society to believe in narratives which are mostly false (such as manipulation of election poll results prior to elections, and through the targeted application of 'character assassination' to manipulate public opinion about influential people in the public space). Taking into consideration the extent of Western society supporting the current distorted Russian narrative in Ukraine is an example of how deep these institutions are compromised. The bottomline regarding media and social media in the 21st century is that its purpose is to influence its audiences for the purpose of making money, and selling such influence to the highest bidder. The current global information landscape is a mess because belligerent actors (State and Non-State) have infiltrated the most influential media companies through the mechanism of investment (both formal and informal). A recent example of formal foreign investment in influential global media is the sale of Twitter to Elon Musk. One of the previous [influential] shareholders in Twitter (as a public traded company), was the Saudi Royal family. Both the KSA and Qatar (via Qatar Holding LLC) also committed investment interests towards the proposed Elon Musk take-over of Twitter as a private company. Other informal means by which belligerents gain preferential access to influential target audience mainstream media is by means of the recruitment [for reward] of influential assets (journalists) to favourably promote belligerent narratives. This is clearly visible in current pro-Russian narratives being pushed by Western media personalities considered influential amongst sympathetic audiences who associate themselves with certain global media brands.

"The medium is the message".

Marshall McLuhan

July 21, 1911, to December 31, 1980

The form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. This subject is explained in greater detail in the studies of the effects of mass media on thought and behavior by Prof Marshall McLuhan, University of Toronto.

B-2 Social Media: For the past decade leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both Russia and China dominated Western social media narratives to promote the information space to be favorable to their strategic objectives. This, however, was not only unique to Russia and China, but also appropriately exploited by Western governments, but not to the extent as discovered with both Russia and China. What made both Russian and Chinese social media campaigns extremely potent was the extent of their advertising budgets on which the most dominant social media companies depended upon to generate profits for its shareholders. The manner in which both Russia and China exploited 'paid for' social media campaigns to promote government information narratives, irrespective of whether the contents were factually accurate or not, was through various television news outlets posing as 'independent news services' fielding journalists and presenters representing the population dynamics in terms of race, language and religion appropriate to the target audience. Through this mechanism social media companies enabled Russia and China to communicate specific messages to specific target audiences based on personal data metrics to communicate controversial messages to a majority Western based audience to promote government narratives favorable to achieving desired strategic objectives. An example of this exploitation was exposed by British authorities investigating Russian interference in the Brexit referendum campaign, as well as Russian interference in multiple US election campaigns. When social media companies were exposed for having no control measures in place to limit distribution of so-called 'false information' (disinformation), social media companies were forced to implement self-regulating measures which included another flawed concept of 'fact-checking'. To limit increased overheads, these 'fact-checkers' were not necessarily qualified in the subjects they were moderating, and mostly the fact-checking was based on flawed narratives, perceptions and prescribed moderation guidelines often issued by paying customers and stakeholders. An example of this is illustrated by ADF's FB account which is permanently restricted in response to an article we published discussing the feasibility of the joint Pakistan/Chinese development of the JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter, and its feasibility for sale to African air forces. Although the article reflects true facts, it was reported to FB for moderation by a few India based users (most probably connected, and affiliated to the Indian security services). When a formal request for review was submitted, the ADF FB account was permanently restricted without providing clear reasons for the decision. Upon further investigation it was determined that most of the 'fact-checking' moderation was sub-contracted to India due to its low labor costs, which basically confirmed the reasons for FB's biased response based on zero supporting facts. However, since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, the Ukraine government, pro-Ukraine NGO's and various other pro-Ukrainian influencers have been 'cancelled' through Russia's abuse of the moderation function of Western social media platforms as a means to silence factually correct information in favor of the distribution of disinformation narratives supported by bigger brand names with larger advertising budgets. However, since the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia became more creative in its anti-Ukraine social media campaign by opportunistically editing public appearances by the Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and then spreading manipulated video appearances illustrating negative messaging to Western audiences to deteriorate Western public support to Ukraine. The most recent example of this tactics results from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's address to the media on February 24, 2023, during the commemoration of the 1-year anniversary of the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine. During the interview, a journalist asked Zelenskyy a question, to which he responded as follows:

Original dialogue:

[Journalist]: "What would he [Zelenskyy] say to Americans who think the US is providing too much support to Ukraine?"

[Zelenskyy]: "The US is never going to give up on the NATO member states. If it happens so that Ukraine, due to various opinions and weakening and depleting of assistance, loses, Russia is going to enter Baltic states, NATO member states, and then the US will have to send their sons and daughters, exactly the same way as we are sending their (sic) sons and daughters to war. And they will have to fight, because it's NATO that we're talking about. And they will be dying. God forbid. Because it's a horrible thing. I wish peace and Ukrainian support to the United States."

Russian version (19 seconds redacted video speech):

[Zelenskyy]: "The US will have to send their sons and daughters exactly the same way as we are sending their (sic) sons and daughters to war and they will have to fight. Because it's NATO we're talking about. And they will be dying. God forbid. Because it's a horrible thing. "

The Russian intelligence services then distributed it to its assets in the US, the result being that the redacted 19 seconds [misleading] narrative was distributed by members of the Republican Party (predominantly former President Donald Trump supporters, also referred to as the 'MAGA' - Make America Great Again - faction), amongst their followers on Twitter causing for public outrage towards Ukraine and President Zelenskyy. The most prominent Republican figures who distributed the [misleading] edited version were Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, and former Trump administration Treasury Department spokesperson, Monica Crowley. However, this again illustrated the extent of existing, and continuing, Russian influence in US politics, and it also illustrates how simple it is to manipulate the main message of any speech when the greater context is omitted. However, social media does not end there.

Another successful social media disinformation strategy involves the endless circulation of conspiracy theories targeting predominantly US intelligence services, the US military industrial complex, and various high-value capitalist figures. The challenge with countering [factually inaccurate] conspiracy theories from a counter-intelligence perspective is mainly due to the nature of these disinformation strategies being extremely effective in exploiting common human behavior relating to the processing (making sense) of complex information. In reality, due to a diverse set of reasons, the majority people (around 89% of the global population), confuse complexity with conspiracy. In other words, where conspiracy theory campaigns are at play, the conspiracy narrative makes more sense within an individual's respective state of cognitive development compared to the complexity of the true facts and causes of the perceived effects. A simple term for describing the state of unawareness relating to the true causes for an effect is 'cause blindness', which is basically the result of inaccurate, incomplete, or corrupted data subjected to low processing effort. In other words, the majority people choose not to analyze the accuracy of an overflow of [mostly irrelevant] data to the point where they become ignorant to the minor relevant data required to construct informed decisions. Therefore, conspiracy theories gain majority support simply because it is the simplest [although inaccurate] narrative to make sense of a complex situation without applying much analytical effort. This characteristic of conspiracy theories is what makes it highly desirable as an intelligence services doctrine when applied in disinformation campaigns, especially when applied within poorly regulated social media mechanisms.


The most common means of exploiting language within a society being victims of a generation of institutionalized cognitive decline (via the global public schooling system), is the concept of 'double-speak'. Within the 5GW doctrine, the effective exploitation and manipulation of language within the cognitive mission space is a major tool in benefiting from a growing cognitive decline. What 'double-speak' entails is basically language designed to evade responsibility by rephrasing negative statements to be perceived as positive statements without obscuring the facts. In other words, double-speak is designed to mislead while pretending not to. It is a highly complex language skill traditionally used by intelligence services and politicians, but also adopted within the business world due to its effectiveness in communicating controversial narratives to be perceived within a positive manner without the audience comprehending the actual message correctly, or to target competitors. Double-speak becomes useful when a message needs to be communicated without the opportunity to obscure the facts by means of communicating the truth as blunt as possible to avoid a negative audience perception. Fundamentally, this concept exploits the human characteristic that language is but only a guide to social reality, and people do not live in the objective world alone, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society (in other words, the language and communication means most effective to influence the target society based on unique cultural- and socio-economic characteristics). A recent example of double-speak is the Russian propaganda term "Special Military Operation" referring to its military action in Ukraine, although the reality is a full-scale multi-domain war based on the high intensity of the war. Another example is referring to 'economic recession' as a 'period of accelerated negative growth', what both the Russian- and Ukrainian economies are experiencing at present. The pharmaceutical- and health care industries also effectively apply double-speak advertising strategies to exaggerate product effectiveness to equally exaggerated health threats it is designed to mitigate (such as the recent pandemic pro-active treatment measures). Politicians utilize double-speak on a daily basis to achieve political objectives using the strategy "it's not what you say, it's what they hear" to develop appropriate communications techniques and phrases to win support from their audiences (example: replacing the word "gambling" with "gaming" to convert public perception about gambling from a 'vice' to a more positive 'entertainment'). Within the 5GW context, double-speak takes on four forms, namely:

  • Euphemisms;

  • Jargon (words difficult to comprehend);

  • Bureaucratese; and

  • Inflated language designed to make the simple seem complex.


A major factor we need to take into consideration now, is unresolved legacies remaining since the end of WW2, especially with regards to the effects it had on the evolution of European politics during:

  • Post-WW2 until the disbandment of the USSR; and

  • Post-Cold War until the present.

The reason why this is a concern now is based on unique indicators identified in specifically Russian information operations and field observations relating to the Russian military culture within its forces fighting in Ukraine. The current Russian culture provides much indications to past legacies dating back to WW2 belligerents which are not considered natural affiliations or beliefs of ethnic Russians, except if such beliefs have been adopted into their culture during their recent history (dating back to the final years before the end of the Cold War). This is further supported by at least seven EU nations who share historical relations dating back to WW2, who are still hesitant to support Ukraine in the fight against Russia two months into the Russian invasion. That said, what complicates this situation even further, is that the traditional support base does not necessarily refer to these respective governments, but rather the political enablers who influence these governments at the political level. Also, taking these dynamics into consideration, we further identify the extent of influence exercised by these same influencers on the current Russian leadership and its foreign policy decisions, and how it links into the greater EU agenda.


Since the end of the Cold War and consequent dissolution of the USSR, we have observed a gradual infiltration of Western political structures by various nations with ranging global agendas. The problem (from a perception point of view), is that the general public incorrectly considered the end of the Cold War as an absolute end to 'old' belligerent goals. Also, as a result of globalization, the world opened up to all, enabling travel and integration into structures of society never envisioned before. This setting created the perfect situation for opportunistic entities to infiltrate various sectors of government, politics, and the economy (specifically finance, defense and technology). Now, in 2022, we observe a clearly hostile country (Russia) invade a non-threatening weaker neighbour (Ukraine) for the purpose of expanding its own interests without any justification. This enabled greater insight into how deep Russian influence expands globally, and how extensive Russian influence is in especially Western economies since the end of the Cold War. The result now is that we find European nations still choosing to remain neutral in the conflict, with even political opinions divided amongst societies within [old Russian foe] countries such as the UK, US, and other countries traditionally aligned to NATO. The major effect of this infiltration operation is that it weakened the NATO alliance at the political level (why the EU is in such a politically divided state as it is currently), and it also further erodes the little remaining trust the public has in these respective political institutions due to the presence of compromised politicians acting within the best interests of foreign actors, and consequent expansion of their private wealth. Russia is at present the best example exposed, but it is definitely not the only foreign actor exercising control over foreign government political institutions. The impact that this has on a country is that a compromised political government implements policies that degrade sovereign interests that are not necessarily within the best interests of its citizens' future welfare, and it maintains a level of 'created dysfunction' in government to remain in power without consequences for as long as possible (such as the implementation of more restrictive measures on law enforcement and criminal prosecutions). Compromised political institutions also display targeted application of incompetence within strategic positions in government, usually associated with high levels of corruption without legal consequences (why we are witnessing the ever increasing phenomenon of political incompetence in government). The most recent example of foreign political influence during April 2022 relates to the US sanctions imposed against Russia involving the repayment of a €12 million "loan" to a Russian defence contractor by the National Rally Party of France who's candidate, 'Marine' Le Pen, was nominated to contest the 2022 French Presidential elections. Le Pen is a pro-Russian supporter, and based on her popularity during the run-up to the elections, the consequences of such a compromised candidate winning the seat as President of France would have had dire consequences on the future integrity of the EU. However, foreign political influencing campaigns are multi-layered and multi-directional, and in the case of Marine Le Pen, this incident was the only one exposed. The real extent of Russian influence in the recent French Presidential elections still remain unknown. However, the current turmoil in Western politics cannot be blamed solely on Russia, for it is in fact much more complicated than that. To understand the grand strategy at play, we also need to understand the circumstances how Putin became the leader of Russia, especially the support he received to remain in power for so long via his political enablers. In politics, the real power is always with the people not seen or known.


In a 5GW conflict, national strategic assets are the first to be targeted within a target society. The tools used to degrade these capabilities over a long period of time includes:

F-1 Privatization, with consequent effects of intellectual property extraction, and consequent termination of capabilities. Example: The PRC offered steel manufacturing below cost to Western affiliated economies with established steel manufacturing infrastructure. The result (targeting the Western model of profitability driven commerce), was that domestic steel manufacturing capabilities were terminated in traditional steel economies such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and South Africa. When the majority of the steel mills were closed down, the PRC then purchased these assets for shipment back to the PRC since it was cheaper to dismantle and ship the equipment back to the PRC, than it would have cost the PRC to build from new, and so the majority Western industrial economies lost their steel manufacturing base, so becoming dependent on PRC supplies.

F-2 Economic Coercion: In 1993, just before the 1994 democratic transition to a majority rule government in South Africa, the then South African transitional government was given options in terms of its nearly mature commercial space launch vehicle (SLV) program for the purpose of providing low-cost commercial satellite launch services. The two options were either Option 1: Disband the program in totality, destroy all IP and hardware, and receive US$ 1 Billion in financial aid towards social development; or Option 2: Continue with the development of the program and face tough economic sanctions and isolation (comparative to the likes of North Korea). The dilemma the NATO alliance faced with this program was fears that it would have allowed the incoming African National Congress (ANC) government the technological capability to develop nuclear armed ICBM's which would have caused a greater imbalance in military power in Africa, especially regarding control over South Africa's direct neighbors, and due to the ANC's heritage and international alliances, the technology could also be sold to Western adversaries (such as Libya, Iran, etc). These fears did eventually become a self-fulfilled prophecy based on how much of the South African defense industry IP were 'leaked', 'stolen' or outright 'sold' at below market value to various foreign actors in the Middle East and Asia during the past 15 years, causing the near total collapse of the largest state-owned arms developer, Denel, to a point where it fails to support its primary customer, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), with fulfilling contractual obligations relating to support of OEM equipment comprising the majority capital assets of the SANDF. Furthermore, South Africa also lost thousands of highly skilled aerospace engineers in the process, a highly specialised skills base now gone. However, South Africa was not the only victim to this method of pacification for the same doctrine was applied against Ukraine, Taiwan, South Korea, and Argentina during the same time period. Now, during these 'non-proliferation' negotiations the expectations were created that these countries would be supported by the major economies in the event of any hostilities against its sovereignty, such as what we are witnessing in the Ukraine at present. The reality, however, is what we witness now looking at the Russo-Ukraine war, especially the little support provided to Ukraine by these major economies contrary to original expectations. The reason why the West have become unreliable as 'strategic partners' to smaller developing nations is mainly due to the Western political system where 'democratic' governments change political leadership every 5 years (election cycles), the results thereof being constantly changing foreign policies which in turn leads to greater vulnerability to foreign belligerent actor influences via the 'political campaign funding' mechanism.

F-3 Intellectual Attrition: One of the simplest, non-violent means of degrading the technological capabilities of an adversary nation which offers high return yields in terms of public perception to the main enforcer, is the intellectual attrition doctrine applied by larger economies against smaller emerging economies. The doctrine is simple in that it either comprises the total IP procurement by a financially superior foreign entity with the eventual discontinuance of such technology in the target nation, which also involves the recruitment of key intellectual development figures within the target organization through the provision of highly rewarding remuneration benefits too good to be refuses (with added opportunity for obtaining foreign citizenship status), to the point where the target organization collapses due to a total decline in intellectual capacity to continue development and maturity of high-tech products. Again, the near total decline of the South African high-tech defence capability proves the effectiveness of this doctrine to the point where the South African defence industry can barely support the already obsolete OEM hardware in use by its armed forces. Basically, the South African economy, with its severely compromised centre of gravity, cannot compete against the major economies in terms of offering fair market value remuneration to their higher skilled employees. As the current South African society falls into further decline (having been in a downward spiral since 2008), the government continues failing in its efforts to maintain even the most basic of services to its population, such as clean water supply, sanitation, and reliable electricity supply (especially lost capabilities in nuclear energy technology). South Africa is not the only example of this doctrine, with Ukraine also having been subjected to this doctrine since its independence from the USSR. The current effects of these intellectual deficiencies in, for example Africa, is that opportunistic economies such as the PRC are now providing lost skills services to African economies without any forms of sustainable skills development and transfer.

F-4 Sabotage: If all non-violent means fail to gain control over strategic assets or to initiate a course of action to achieve a desired end-state, then actions are escalated to a more aggressive posture via two methods, namely:

a. Deliberate Crime: The most common means of deteriorating the operations of a target strategic asset is by facilitating large scale theft of costly components or resources required to sustain operations. The best example of how theft and associated criminal activities (via ‘technical support’ from organized criminal groups) deteriorates critical infrastructure capacity is by studying the methods used to deteriorate the supply capacity (and network capabilities) of the South African government-owned power utility, ESKOM. The gradual decline of South Africa’s national grid started in September 2006 when then President Thabo Mbeki signed a bilateral agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin to supply nuclear fuel to South Africa’s sole nuclear power station, Koeberg. This agreement was controversial because South Africa had its own nuclear fuel refinement capabilities, and at the time it was also in the process of refining its modular pebble bed nuclear power generation technologies (which then suddenly disappeared). However, Russian business exploits political corruption, and this was the start of major cash inflows through illegitimate business deals resulting in undeclared earnings for the ruling party ANC. Two years after the signing of the nuclear fuel agreement in 2006, South Africa started experiencing a gradual increase in failure in the national power grid due to maintenance neglect on an aging power generation infrastructure along with increasing demand caused by improving economic conditions. What also needs to be taken into consideration during this era is Russia's invasion of Georgia in 2008, which consequently shaped Russian foreign policy towards the West, which had a major effect on the future of South Africa as a NATO partner nation, and beneficiary of large US and EU foreign direct investment. Up to that point, the South African government failed to invest in expanding power generation capacity in line with economic growth, and the older infrastructure was showing signs of fatigue in need of replacement. The rapidly failing South African power generation capacity had a negative impact on the extensive Western (US, EU, Japan) investments and infrastructure (primarily within the manufacturing sector), further resulting in credit ratings downgrades (S&P, Fitch, Moody's) relating to the Government of South Africa and its affected state owned enterprises (SOE's). Ad to this the global financial crisis, and the added impact of the West's exposure to its extensive investments portfolio in South Africa further eroded Western economic outlook to the primary benefit of both Russia and China. With much internal- and external pressure, the government contracted the building of additional coal fueled power stations at inflated prices which later exposed large scale political corruption to the benefit of the ruling ANC party and its affiliated business network who considered the major infrastructure capitalization program as an opportunity for illicit exploitation. As a result of [intentionally] poor contract negotiations and corruption, the completion of the new power stations was delayed by around 5 years which resulted in increased (and further inflated) cost overruns, causing even further illicit exploitation. By this time, the ruling party had already identified the illicit financial opportunities it could turn to its benefit by manipulating the South African power crisis even further, with basically no incentive to the political elite to actually resolve the rapidly expanding crisis. However, suffering from increasing external pressure, the ruling ANC could not do this alone, and required strategic support from abroad to counter the growing pressure from mainly the United States to reduce government corruption which was contradictory to the future interests of the ruling ANC and its leadership. The ideal partnership alliance was Russia and China (PRC), which was confirmed when then President Jacob Zuma approached Russian President Vladimir Putin to gain access to the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) alliance. Russia gladly accepted this request, and the terms of agreement were never made public by either the presidents of Russia or South Africa.

So, from an irregular warfare doctrine perspective, the first step in the process of targeted infrastructure degrading comprised the targeted application of economic coercion (in terms of nuclear energy capabilities), and gradual intellectual attrition involving the application of unrealistic Affirmative Action (AA) and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) policies which accelerated the alienation of the skilled core of engineering staff. By 2008, the power utility reached a point of near total collapse because of neglect and rapidly diminished experience which resulted in the establishment of scheduled power outages (referred to as ‘load shedding’), to drastically reduce demand on the electricity grid, which in effect started the industrial decline of South Africa ever since. This scenario then set the stage for government (more specifically the political elite controlling it), to initiate the development of additional power generation capacity, one of these anticipated programs being assigned to Russia’s Rosatom without following proper tender processes to build and operate eight nuclear power plants at a cost of ZAR 1 Trillion (US$ 76 Billion) during September 2014. This deal was cancelled when challenged in the High Court by civil society when it was determined that proper government procurement procedures were purposefully ignored by then President, Jacob Zuma. Unfortunately, this deal was not designed to fulfill the best interests of the Republic of South Africa, but rather to enable irregular financial benefits to the President and his direct line of supporters, the ruling party, and associated Russian oligarchs (especially Vladimir Putin). However, as a result of the failed nuclear power bid (much to Russia’s disappointment), the situation was then escalated to induce intentional network deterioration to artificially create a more serious ‘energy crisis’ which would enable the cancelled Russian nuclear power deal to be revived based on public pressure on the South African ruling class to ‘solve the energy crisis’ (the current evolving situation in Q1 2023). This is a common Russian ‘neo-Bolshevik code’ tactic implying: “If you wish to provide the solution, you need to create the problem”, a tactic that was refined in Ukraine during Russia’s constant interference in Ukraine politics since Ukraine’s independence from the USSR. To achieve the state of “providing the solution” in South Africa, the process of national grid deterioration had to be induced through the targeted application of crime, another Russian “neo-Bolshevik code” tactic where “Everything is a weapon”, utilizing the basis of crime to achieve plausible deniability. In South Africa, the national power utility ESKOM owns the monopoly over all power generation and distribution, and the ruling ANC government resisted all attempts by the private sector to enable greater inclusion of private power generation capacity stating 'lack of government legal framework' to enable greater energy diversification. Therefore, for the ruling ANC to guarantee future financial benefit, it made sense to target the two most critical components of South African power supply, namely coal resources for power generation, and copper cables for distribution. This concept is better explained from a costs perspective as follows:

  • Coal: South Africa consumes around 202 million tons (MT) of coal per year, of which the majority is thermal grade (sub-bituminous) coal utilized for power generation. Around 10% of this annual supply is lost to supply chain theft (exchanging of thermal grade sub-bituminous coal for lower grade lignite/peat with low thermal yield). This amounts to around 20 million tons of coal per year that is exported by organized criminal groups posing as legitimate businesses (with links to the ruling ANC), to foreign coal consumers (predominantly India and Germany). The problem caused by coal thefts arranged by multiple criminal cartels embedded within the ranks of ESKOM, is that the lower-grade lignite/peat damages the turbines of the power generation plants designed to burn sub-bituminous coal as a design specification to achieve optimal equipment performance to generate steam for turbines. Historically, this was not a factor pre-1994 when the majority power stations were designed to burn low grade/low thermal yield lignite (cheapest coal), at the cost of increased air pollution resulting from lignite's higher moisture and impurities content. After 2008, partially due to increased international pressure relating to global carbon emissions reforms, the South African government commissioned new coal power stations conforming to international standards relating to the reduction in carbon emissions which required a higher grade of coal for burning to generate steam for the power generating turbines. Sub-bituminous coal contains less moisture and impurities compared to lignite, but at a drastically higher cost of supply. This opportunity was well received by the political class controlling the institutions of government, and it presented a perfect opportunity to abuse new supply agreements by enforcing priority procurement policies allowing only approved B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) providers [with ruling party political affiliation], to supply coal to the national power utility. Due to major systemic corruption and poor oversight mechanisms, politically linked government employees and politicians also inappropriately gained access to the supply- and distribution of coal stocks to the newly commissioned power stations. However, what also needs to be taken into consideration is that South African power stations were historically supplied via an efficient state-owned rail network system inherited from the pre-1994 South African political dispensation, which was immediately considered a threat by the post-1994 political dispensation who wished to gain access to lucrative transportation contracts. To enable this, all new power stations post-2008 had no rail links built to enable cheaper rail supply, consequently creating the demand for thermal coal to be transported by heavy transport vehicles loaded with around 34 tons of coal along the aging and poorly maintained road infrastructure. As the road transportation networks increased, the state-owned railway system was gradually deteriorated (through appropriate political enablement) to the point where historical rail supply to older power stations had to be replaced by more costly road transportation solutions. Consequently, as the market became saturated by too many service providers, larger B-BBEE (aka ruling party affiliated) corporations saw the opportunity to increase profits by replacing the higher grade (more valuable) coal collected from the supplier coal mines, with lower grade lignite/peat by swapping loads midpoint en route to the delivery location (power station) with the sub-grade coal. These contractors then sell the higher grade coal to export customers at a marginal discount compared to international prices. At present (Q1 2023), sub-bituminous coal was selling for US$ 240 / ton for 2024 supply. The sub-grade lignite/peat mix delivered to the power stations are purchased at around a quarter of that price ranging from US$ 40 - 60 / ton. Looking at the financial impact of the coal losses caused by theft of sub-bituminous coal based on the 2021 average price of around US$ 256 / ton, the South African national power utility (and the South African consumer public who is responsible for funding ESKOM operations through constant price increases), is defrauded of around US$ 5,1 Billion (ZAR 94 Billion) in coal fuel value. This figure excludes the additional costs burden resulting from damaged power generation equipment exposed to sub-standard coal fuel also repaired through illicit tendering processes, [intentional] damages caused to the degraded national railroads network for the purpose of increasing private sector road supply demand, and [collateral] damages caused to road infrastructure which was not designed for handling the high volume of heavy traffic. Now, in light of the current global situation, how does Russia and China envision themselves benefiting from this situation? One of the major effects of the coal supply contracts diversification by the current South African ruling party was the near-total destruction of the South African railroad network. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the South African government (via the Department of Defence and Military Veterans), announced that it intended to rehabilitate the national railroad network for "national security" reasons. However, both Russia and China are advanced railway technology developers, why we think that the current South African ruling party wishes to extend its illicit financial gains from infrastructure development to the rehabilitation of the national railway network through its 'partners Russia and China.

  • Copper: The South African national grid extends for a total distance of 28,000 kilometers (17,400 miles) of high voltage transmission lines which branches out to 325,000 kilometers (202,000 miles) of lower-voltage transmission lines. Since the South African grid is old, most transmission cables are manufactured from copper. Therefore, to put this into a copper-by-weight perspective, the South African power distribution network represents a refined copper resource of around 3,25 million tons valued at around US$ 32 Billion (calculated at the Q1 2023 price/kilogram refined copper). Up until two decades ago, South Africa was a major producer of unrefined copper and it also had the industrial capacity to refine copper required for manufactured goods such as copper cables. However, during the past two decades China has developed itself into the world’s largest refiner of raw materials partly enabled by degrading domestic capacity within partner-government nations in favor of importing refined copper from China in exchange for Chinese purchases of unrefined copper at a reduced cost. However, in South Africa the new generation (post-1994) mining executives with links to the ruling ANC found it more profitable (by sidelining mining legislation and taxes), to expand into the less regulated ‘scrap metals’ industry which caused a major increase in theft of precious metals, especially copper cable thefts. This problem further strained the national power utility’s finances caused by loss of distribution capacity, along with costly replacement of stolen infrastructure eroding profits, and not to mention the thousands of lost jobs within the formal mining sector. Another consequence of reduced interest in mining is that the remaining copper mines ceased operations simply because it could not profitably compete with the rapidly expanding copper ‘scrap metal’ industry which was exporting its refined copper to China (via front companies located in either Hong Kong, Malaysia, or Singapore). In recent years, copper theft has expanded to the point that it is a preferred import by China who anticipates the price of refined copper to double by 2030, and then double every ten years following (why it is actively supporting organized criminal groups to extract as much refined copper from any target market possible, by whatever means). However, Russia also directly benefits from copper theft in South Africa. As South Africa’s national electricity grid deteriorates in generation capacity and its distribution network deteriorates due to large-scale theft of long-distance transmission lines, Russia is enabled to gradually “solve the problem” by becoming the primary exporter of high voltage copper transmission cables to South Africa. In 2021, South Africa imported US$ 160 million worth of copper cable from Russia and it continues to import copper cable from Russia until the present (Q1 2023). Reliable trade data is just more difficult to acquire for two reasons, namely: (1) Import declarations relating to goods exported from Russian to South Africa are manipulated to obscure actual trade data with Russia as a means of minimizing both US government and South African political opposition scrutiny; (2) Russia, as a member of both the IMF and World Bank, ceased reporting all trading data since Q2 2022. The impact of this is that neither the IMF nor the World Bank has access to reliable trade data since then relating to Russian imports/exports mainly as a means by the Russian mechanisms of government to obscure its actual trade figures, especially its international sanctions circumvention measures (Brazil, India, China, South Africa, Iran, and a few Western nations). The added negative impact this has on the future improvement of the South African national power grid is that stolen copper cable infrastructure are not replaced with Aluminum alloy cables solely for the purpose of ensuring that the cycle of copper theft remains sustainable for the organized criminal elements operating within government and its political leadership, and also within the senior [politically connected and appointed] management structures of the national power utility. In the meantime, with every foreign export enabled by the ruling ANC government in South Africa from Russia and China, the ANC receives financial kickbacks to illegitimately fund its political control over the South African government approaching the 2024 national elections, and both Russia and China are supporting it simply because they do not want the ruling ANC to lose political control over the South African government. China has also contributed around US$ 5 Billion in government loans to the South African government since 2015 to fund PRC provided power- and transportation projects with little spending transparency, an additional burden to the rapidly decreasing South African tax base.

  • Diesel: As ESKOM coal stocks are compromised, the utility is forced to activate its diesel fueled back-up generation capacity to supplement electricity supply shortfall to avoid grid collapse. The diesel used for generators originate primarily from Russia but imported to South Africa via a network of ANC-linked ‘facilitators’ and Russian ‘oil trader’ service providers, and not by ESKOM directly (further increasing operational costs because of multiple, but unnecessary, intermediaries inflating the cost of wholesale diesel supply to the utility). However, the increased diesel imports derived from Russian oil exports not only serves ESKOM, but also private businesses who require electricity during normal business hours drawn from privately owned diesel fuel operated generators. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Russia was a major supplier of diesel to South Africa. However, after the invasion of Ukraine, the South African government made it clear to the public (and foreign observers, mainly referring to the United States), that South Africa was not importing any petroleum products ‘directly’ from Russia, which is true. It also confirmed through various media campaigns that South African refineries (currently in a decommissioned state), cannot refine Russian crude oil, which is also true. Consequently, the major question is how does South Africa acquire the required volumes of diesel fuel after Russia invaded Ukraine, and from where? The answer is simple (following the same method both the governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands follow when they supposedly ‘ceased’ importing Russian diesel): India. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, India purchased its crude oil from the UAE and Saudi Arabia for refinement into various petroleum products. The reason for this was purely financial relating to distance from suppliers, and since the KSA and the UAE are located within relative short distances from India, Middle Eastern oil purchases results in lower shipping costs. This is also the reason why India never purchased crude oil from Russia due to transportation cost implications. However, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia became the top supplier of crude oil to India within a period of a few months (not sufficient time to build refineries capable of refining Russian crude), in addition to pre-invasion crude oil supplies sources from the KSA and UAE. At present (Q1 2023), Russia supplies an average of 1 million barrels of crude oil per day to India. Consequently, India refines the Russian crude into refined petroleum products which is then exported globally. But, how did India achieve this capability in such a short period of time since Indian refineries are adapted to refining crude oil originating from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and not Russia? Again, the answer is simple for Russia anticipated after its 2014 annexation of Crimea that it would be sanctioned as soon as it invaded Ukraine, and therefore ensured its oil economy and global distribution will continue unhindered by assisting India in developing the additional refining capacity to refine Russian crude oil to then distribute the refined petroleum products as “Origin of India” instead of "Origin of Russia" to Russia’s historical customers (Europe, South Africa, and whoever else interested in its products). To enable the development of the expanded India based infrastructure, Russia exports its crude oil to India at between 15–30% discounted rate compared to the global spot price for oil, and thus being competitive irrespective of supply distances. What needs to be understood about India is that the Russian oil refining capacity is additional to its traditional Saudi Arabian and UAE supplies, which provides some form of plausible deniability to India to claim that whatever it exported as petroleum products were refined from UAE and Saudi Arabian crude oil (with no means of proving the contrary), and not Russian oil. The following list summarizes the dominant Indian energy corporations benefitting from Russian sanctions circumvention:

1. Bharat Petroleum (BPCL)

2. Coal India

3. Indian Oil Corporation


5. Reliance

Interesting fact about Russia’s anticipation of Western sanctions targeting its oil exports is that Russia in fact

expected economic sanctions to be worse than what it experienced since its February 24, 2022, invasion of

Ukraine. So, back to the South African energy crisis, diesel fuel is imported from India by mainly PetroSA (a

South African government owned gas-to-liquid refinery) via a string of ruling party connected facilitators,

which then supplies ESKOM at somewhat ‘inflated’ rates (with no clear indication where profits are diverted


In 2023, the national power crisis in South Africa is at it’s worsts after the CEO tendered his resignation during December 2022 following an unsuccessful poisoning attempt while in office (an old Russian GRU tactic), which was rapidly cut short when the Minister of Public Enterprises dismissed the CEO with immediate effect on February 22, 2023, after the CEO exposed the level of government officials linked corruption within the power utility to the public, and then immediately leaving South Africa into exile fearing further attacks on his life and the well-being of his family. Entering 2023, South Africa experiences average power outages ranging between 8–12 hours per day for a supposedly G20 industrialized economy. On February 09, 2023, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, declared a State of Disaster during his State of the Nation Address in relation to the escalating power crisis. This declaration in effect allows the government to make decisions without following due process (relating to government spending), which also creates more favorable circumstances for Russia to offer its nuclear power solution again at an even higher price than before. If the Russian nuclear deal is revived and implemented by the ANC political government, Russia will effectively gain control over the South African government financially (and its Southern African neighbors who are connected to the South African power grid), and effectively it would then have the tools to hold the Southern African (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique) economies hostage by controlling its energy requirements well into the future. The next South African general elections are scheduled for 2024, and the Russian government has already made it clear that it will do anything in its power to ensure that no South African opposition parties (who are considered pro-West), wins control over the South African government in 2024. How the Russian government will achieve that is already known looking at its past record of interference in Ukraine, as well as its extensive record of elections interference in various countries (of strategic importance to Russia) globally, including the United States. The power crisis in South Africa cost the economy (which includes foreign investors in its economy) around ZAR 500 Billion (US$ 28 Billion) in 2022 alone. The main problem regarding the implementation of effective solutions to resolve the artificially created power crisis is that there is no political will to resolve the problem simply because the ruling class (and its main sponsors Russia and China), are financially profiting from this crisis, and fixing it would result in reduced earnings to both parties (except if Russia wins its bid to build nuclear power stations, which is the desired end effect). However, taking into consideration the fact that the current South African government is an ally of Russia, maybe it is for the greater good that South Africa is rapidly reaching the point of both political and economic implosion to reach the desired tipping-point for change. So, who within the ruling African National Congress controlling the current South African government is responsible for this destruction? Based on various independent investigations and intelligence reports from sources with direct knowledge of the current situation, the main opposition party (Democratic Alliance), disclosed that one of the primary enablers of the targeted destruction of the national power utility was former Vice-President David Mabuza, who served as Vice-President from February 2018 to February 2023. Mabuza gained political power when he supported former President Jacob Zuma in December 2007 to oust former President Thabo Mbeki. Prior to that event, he was just a trade unionist with little political outlook beyond his national executive committee influence in the ruling ANC. When Jacob Zuma assumed the Presidency of the African National Congress, Mabuza rapidly rose into power, and also rapidly expanded his wealth. In February 2018 he became the Vice-President of South Africa, and remained in that position under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa when Jacob Zuma was forced out of his position (as a political compromise to continue taking care of the Zuma 'interests' relating to both Russia and China which is supported by Mabuza's multiple visits to Russia for 'medical treatments'). He also faces multiple accusations [pending prosecution] relating to various incidents of corruption, including inciting political violence and intimidation, dating back to 2002. His resignation as Vice-President followed shortly after the release of his involvement in organized crime in South African state-owned institutions, but prosecution remains unlikely due to the ruling ANC's unwillingness to prosecute political figures for abuse of state power mainly due to the extent of how many ANC members are involved with organized crime in the South African government at all levels of government. How compromised is the ANC as a ruling political party? Based on Democratic Alliance reports, the national power utility is infiltrated [and controlled] by no less than four competing organized criminal groups (OCG's), all linked to the ruling ANC, each with links to either Russian- and/or Chinese organized criminal groups operating in South Africa with [political] government protection.

b. Direct Action: The next level of escalation involves the destruction of critical assets and/or major components through non-military direct action. In South Africa (relating to ESKOM), the degraded quality coal stocks (caused by theft), resulted in major damages to boilers which disrupted power generation capability for months at a time. Also, various acts of sabotage were identified targeting costly transformer units within critical economic hubs. Looking at the escalation of the Russo-Ukraine war, we now observe direct action in Russia where critical infrastructure is being targeted by competent unknown attackers applying unknown means. Most recent examples of direct action on Russian soil targeting critical infrastructure during the early stages of the war (in response to its military activities in Ukraine), include:

April 21: Destruction of Dmitrievsky Chemical Plant, Kineshma (Propellants supplier to Russian forces).

April 21: Fire at Central Research Institute for Air and Space Defense in Tver (S-400 / Kalibr development).

April 23: Structural 'collapse' of Fedorovsky hydroelectric plant, Kuban (hydroelectric dam).

April 25: Arson at Russian Air Force base at Ussuriysk close to PRC border.

April 25: Fire at Rosneft oil depot, Bryansk (oil production plant, pipeline).

April 29: Destruction of Sintez pharmaceutical plant in Kurgan, Siberia (Antibiotics production facility).

April 30: Fire at GRES-2 power plant in Sakhalinskaya (120 MW coal power station).

May 02: Explosion at FKP Powder Plant in Perm, Ural Mountains (Propellants factory).

May 03: Fire at 34,000 m2 warehouse in Bogorodskoye, Moscow (Prosveshcheniye publishing facility).

(May 03, 2022, warehouse fire at Bogorodskoye, Moscow. It is quite ironical observing Kremlin doctrine applied in Durban, South Africa, less than 12 months prior in support of Jacob Zuma and his predominantly Zulu supporters, now being applied against the Kremlin on Russian territory. The destruction of this facility in Bogorodskoye is quite significant for the reason that it published pro-Russian socio-political literature, and its most recent activities include the amendment of Russian history textbooks which traditionally portrayed Ukraine in a positive manner, reworded to portray Ukraine as the enemy of Russia within the current education system).

Under 5GW conditions, anything is a target, and anything is a weapon. Also, the groups engaged in direct action are not clearly distinguishable as 'enemy combatants' on the traditional battlefield, and can also include members within the same society targeted. End objectives are not always clearly known or understood, and sometimes hostile activities include traditional 'false flag' operations by 'victim' State institutions.


Within democratic society, crime has become the 'militia' of the 5GW belligerent. International organized crime syndicates originating from Europe, Asia, and Latin America all have complex international networks to support their global operations, sometimes even supporting one another with trafficking in arms, people, and narcotics. For this reason we can also conclude that countries with a high occurrence of criminal syndication are also compromised in terms of its political government, to include high level infiltration of its security forces which creates the perception that these organisations have carte blanche without consequences within the respective host countries. Criminal syndicates are also used by belligerents to eliminate opposition figures under the disguise of criminal activities such as armed robbery, car hijackings, extortion, kidnapping, etc. Under the cover of crime, international direct action now becomes lost within the statistics of day-to-day crime, and consequently hidden from public oversight mechanisms.


Post-Cold War globalization increased foreign direct investment by wealthy multi-nationals and governments (via sovereign wealth funds). Russia took advantage of this opportunity to diversify its economy away from being only an Oil and Gas producer, especially in the EU, UK and the US. The dilemma facing the most influential NATO member states now is how to effectively enforce tough economic sanctions against Russia as main aggressor in Ukraine without causing dire consequences on their own economies due to the extent of Russian FDI in their respective economies. This is the main reason why the EU has implemented a phased approach to enforcement of economic sanctions to allow it time for developing alternatives as Russian interests are divested following lengthy legal process. To understand this from a 5GW perspective, Russia has an advantage in terms of its diversified investments in the economies of its major adversaries, which gradually extends (and softens) the effects of economic sanctions over a longer period of time until alternative solutions have been developed. In return, Russia has also enabled major FDI by foreign institutions in the Russian economy. The advantages Russia enjoys from this arrangement is that countries bound to enforce sanctions against Russia is basically forced to implement a gradual 'soft' implementation plan over an extended period of time as not to damage their own investments by acting too harsh. Russia currently enjoys US$ 116 Billion accumulated FDI, the top 3 investors in Russia being Germany (US$ 26 Bn), PRC (US$ 15 Bn), and USA (US$ 15 Bn). Other countries within the top 10 are Italy, France, Switzerland, India, Sweden, Finland, Turkey. However, based on investment statistics since 2018, both the PRC and the USA reduced their respective exposure gradually year-on-year (to around 50% current value compared to before), whereas Germany, Italy, India, Sweden, and the UK increased their investments in Russia over the same period. This explains why current sanctions enforcement is being perceived as slow with minor political will from the G7 economies.


As a weaponized toolset commonly used by the 5GW belligerent, legal exploitation involves the action of using the justice system in an unjust manner, usually involving the exploitation of loopholes and/or application of legal opportunism in the legal system, as well as the manipulation of prosecution and it effectiveness through various means being either legal/lawful or illegal/unlawful, and typically includes corruption, coercion, intimidation, and even targeted application of violence against key personnel employed within all components constituting the criminal justice system (start to end) to reduce the probability of successful prosecution. This doctrine is applied globally by various belligerents based on the historical legal exploitation doctrine used by international organised crime syndicates (mafia, drug cartels, etc). This is a highly specialized doctrine which falls outside the domain of defence- and national security legal mandate, but commonly exploited by foreign belligerents. The South African 'State Capture' report against former President Jacob Zuma's administration (2009 - 2018) highlights the most recently exposed example of how extensive this doctrine can be applied when involving the political spectrum.


The perceived intent of terrorism is to force an ideology of a minority group of people through acts of terror and violence, much depending on the elements of the society it is targeting to communicate its ideologies and acts of violence to purposefully instill fear within the target audience. With thanks to opportunistic- and misinformed politicians and the mainstream media as primary communications media, these groups are often labelled with titles which further inflates their image within the global audience, indirectly fueling sympathy from other minorities who feel disenfranchised for some or other reason, who also identify themselves with the ideologies of these groups. However, the reality applicable to the majority of these terrorist groups is that they are in fact only 'guns for hire' bandit outfits, and much of their so-called 'terror' campaigns are well executed plans to achieve strategic objectives to the benefit of other unseen role-players (who contributes funding and logistical support towards these groups), while creating sufficient distractions for such unseen objectives to remain out of public sight. Libya, Syria, Iraq, Mali, CAR, Mozambique, Somalia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan are all examples of such planned destabilization. The major factor not taken into consideration when intending to effectively counter terrorism activities, is to fully comprehend the greater scope of the perceived operations, and to understand the context of the grand strategy at play. This usually happens when intelligence services fall into the trap of believing the media narrative with the undesired consequence that data collected are usually analysed to support the mainstream media narrative, and not necessarily the actual agenda. For terror organisations to function effectively, they require the exact same resources required by the forces tasked to counter them. These requirements are also the major weaknesses of these groups, but very rarely are they targeted by these means, namely:

  • Command & Control;

  • Finance;

  • Logistics;

  • Communications;

  • Security;

  • Network;

  • Intelligence.

The point regarding global terrorism is that in the majority of cases, so-called terrorist groups are in fact only private armies for greater [hidden] entities who seek specific strategic outcomes without having to follow more costly and time consuming regulated procedures subject to greater public scrutiny, especially when the traditional political support is considered hostile. This is commonly found in Africa where rare earth elements and unregulated precious commodities (gold, diamonds, etc) are mined, new infrastructure developments relating to newly discovered oil and gas reserves, and any other commodities of high financial value and of strategic [global] importance. The bottomline is, the majority 'terrorism ideologies' are only a front for more important activities being hidden by a facade of violence to intentionally divert public attention away from a greater act of exploitation. The so-called IS affiliated 'Al Shabab' insurgency in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, is an example of an exploit disguised as an 'insurgency'.


Targeted attacks via the cyber domain is becoming a more common means of warfare by both state-sponsored actors and non-state actors. Cyber warfare is as a cost-effective means of disrupting critical infrastructure and networked military systems, steal sensitive information, spread false information amongst a target audience, and conduct espionage and sabotage activities. Cyber-attacks can also contribute to cripple an adversary’s economy, disrupt communications networks, and cause widespread panic and confusion. At present, Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) by malicious actors with extraordinary skills and resources (predominantly state sponsored), are considered the highest threat from a cyber warfare perspective. ATPs use a variety of tactics, techniques, and tools such as highly targeted social engineering attacks, ransomware, vulnerability exploits, and zero days to accomplish their exploits. ATP groups (both state-sponsored and non-state actors), aim to gain undetected access to a network and then remain silently persistent, establish a back door, and/or steal, corrupt or manipulate data. The following list summarizes the current extent of Russian state sponsored APTs:

  • Spetznas GRU: The Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), which operates both Unit 26165 and Unit 74455, was identified by the British cybersecurity agency, NCSC, as being responsible for managing a cyber warfare campaign targeting the government of Ukraine since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, with a drastic escalation in attacks in the final years leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Unit 26165 is a specialized cyber warfare group which also operates under the names STRONTIUM, Fancy Bear, and APT28. The unit origin dates back to the Cold War when it was designated 85th Main Special Service Center responsible for military intelligence cryptography. Now the unit is responsible for cyber operations and hacking. In 2018, Unit 26165 was responsible for hacking the network of the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons), to remove/corrupt/manipulate toxin evidence gathered from the poisoning of the Russian intelligence officer, Sergei Skripal, in the UK. The unit was also identified by Dutch government authorities for an attempted hacking into the servers of the air crash investigators relating to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17 over Ukraine by a Russian SAM in 2014. Unit 74455, also known as the Sandworm Team, or the Main Centre for Technologies, operated various fictitious online identities (DCLeaks, Guccifer 2.0) to release damaging and sensitive documents via WikiLeaks as a means of manipulating political opinions, starting on the eve of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. In October 2020, the US Department of Justice indicted various GRU Unit 74455 members following a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation for multiple cyber-attacks, the December 2015 Ukraine power-grid attack, the 2017 Macron e-mails leak, 2017 NotPetya attacks, 2018 Winter Olympics hack (relating to anti-doping results of Russian athletes, with an attempt to blame North Korea for the attack), and the 2018 – 2019 cyber-attacks against the government of Georgia.

  • Foreign Intelligence Service (FIS): The main cyber unit of the FIS is APT29, also known as Cozy Bear. The unit was identified in cyber-attacks targeting US government agencies such as the Treasury, Commerce, and Energy Departments, and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

  • FSB: The Russian successor to the Soviet KGB, the FSB operates an elaborate network of ATPs known as Berserk Bear (aka Crouching Yeti, responsible for espionage), Energetic Bear (aka Dragonfly, responsible for espionage utilizing Havex RAT attacks to gain remote access and control over network devices), Gamaredon (aka Primitive Bear, Actinium), TeamSpy. The FSB coordinates its cyber strategy via two units, namely, 16th Centre for Information Security, and 18th Centre. In 2021, Ukrainian intelligence revealed the FSB Gamaredon group operating from Crimea responsible for cyber-attacks against the Ukraine government. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI uncovered a persistent FSB campaign targeting US energy infrastructure (one of the contributing reasons why the US has experienced a drastic escalation in cyber-attacks on the US power grids).

  • Conti: A ransomware hacking group targeting Western corporations since February 2020. It is considered an APT operated by Russian organized criminal groups, with occasional support to Russian intelligence agencies for reward. The US government currently offers a US$ 10 million reward for information pertaining the group’s organization in St Petersburg, Russia, and an additional US$ 5 million for information leading to an arrest of key figures. Conti also declared their support to the Russian government in the Russian war in Ukraine.

  • Killnet: A Russian DDOS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) group which claimed responsibility for attacking the US Congress network at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The group is a non-state actor with declared allegiance to the Kremlin, having hacked Lithuanian government networks, and also Western based corporations suspected of supporting the Ukraine war effort.

Other countries with a history of confirmed belligerent intent includes China (PLA), Iran (MuddyWater, Project Signal, Enemies of the People), and North Korea. These state sponsored actors (supported by various domestic non-state actor groups), all engage in cyber warfare activities following a prescribed national strategy (to avoid domestic prosecution relating to non-state actors), with the common purpose of espionage, energy infrastructure and economic manipulation, and the influencing of political outcomes in target governments.

How does 5th Generation Warfare impact future Force Design requirements from a kinetic warfare perspective?

Taking all this information regarding 5GW concepts into consideration as we observe unfolding in the Russo-Ukraine war, we can conclude the following in terms of required focus to maintain capabilities relevant to future force design:

  • Long-range precision strike: Under conditions of electromagnetic spectrum denial and limited air superiority.

  • Space warfare: Disabling or disrupting enemy space infrastructure effectiveness, and mitigating enemy restrictions (jamming)..

  • Dominant maneuver (positioning of forces capability): Multi-domain rapid redeployment of forces under spectrum denied conditions within contested airspace.

  • Information warfare: Dominate the digital war of perception and ideas, to include upholding of the centre of gravity supporting society.

  • Artificial Intelligence: Incorporate AI technologies to improve decision making processes, cybersecurity, situational awareness, more efficient logistics and supply chain management, autonomous weapon systems, and predictive maintenance autonomously linked to a digitized supply chain.

Consequently, the current revolution in military affairs must prioritize the areas of technology, doctrine, operations, and organization relating to the extension of future relevance in terms of the following means:

  • Observation: Ability to detect accurately in real time, everything occurring in theatre, by satellites and terrestrial radars.

  • Firepower: Guided and cruise missiles, drones, ballistic systems (to include guaranteed sustainment of expended munitions resupply).

  • Protection: Anti-aircraft, anti-drone, anti-armor, anti-missile, cyber defense, and electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) domination/denial. Specific focus should include greater technical understanding and monitoring of AI technologies, and how it is being phased into traditional tools of warfare to replace the human interface.

  • Command, Control, Communications (C3): Facilitating cooperation and exchange at all levels in real time of information required for the conduct of battle with reduced vulnerability to interception and interference. Operational doctrine should gradually expand into the decentralization of C3 in the field to reduce the C3 operational footprint. Small C3 footprints reduce EMS vulnerabilities.

  • Special Operations: Force structure is predominantly influenced by strategy, and the more complex the strategic dynamics at play, the greater the demand for diversified specializations. As a general rule of thumb (in the absence of more detailed analysis), a good starting point for developing Special Operations Forces (SOF) capabilities is to follow the basic ratio of 10% total force should be dedicated SOF, and 1% total force should be Special Forces (SF). This ratio will allow for a balanced supply of human resources to the more specialised capabilities (Read: Special Operations Forces in the 21st Century: How can it help Africa?).

  • Battlefield Autonomy: With improvements in Artificial Intelligence, various combat support functions can be replaced by AI controlled autonomous systems to reduce the human footprint on battlefields.

The requirements for future force design based on current and emerging 5GW trends are much more complex a discussion as briefly highlighted in this section, which we will discuss thoroughly in a separate article.


In the classic sense, war was executed through military campaigns in which at least two opposing forces consisting of large masses of people and material contested issues relating to sovereignty, territory, strategic power, and/or resources through the application of military power. Although much has evolved during the past century to enable more non-violent means of confrontation (such as economic sanctions, trade embargoes, etc), the emergence of hybrid warfare has pushed global society back to traditional means of territorial defense and kinetic action, combined with irregular means and techniques which cause strong psychological impact on public opinion, having evolved to what may be 5GW now. After taking this into perspective, along with the current events in Ukraine and its global escalation of effects, and looking back at the history of the modern world, we now identify signs indicating that current global events might just signal old belligerents still fighting old wars for the same old reasons as in the past, just applying different methods to achieve their yet unfulfilled desired end state.

To summarize the idea pertaining 5GW, is it justifiably a next layer of evolutionary warfare, or is it just a collective of symptoms of matured 4GW? We wish to believe it is a next level evolution of warfare, even if the purpose thereof is only to expand awareness about these methods for improved understanding on how to effectively counter the effects and means. What makes it unique is that it does not replace previous generations of warfare, but rather combines components of previous generations of warfare with new ideas and technology. Is it a doctrine of 'evil'? Not necessarily, because if correctly applied, it can also be a valuable tool to mitigate the effectiveness of growing occurrence of State sponsored abuse when governments (as a result of compromised political systems), fail to act within the best interests of its citizens. However, as complex as 5GW may appear, we should always take into consideration the fundamentals of warfare, especially the requirements for success. Basically, wars are 'won' by a combination of calculated kinetic force grouped with a feasible alternative. What this means is that when war escalates into kinetic force, an aggressor is exploiting a problem that exists within the target society. Likewise, the aggressor also has problems within its own society, why it considers kinetic force necessary to achieve desired goals to remedy its own problems. However, to achieve success, the aggressor needs to provide a feasible alternative to the target society. A simple example is the offensive liberation of a besieged nation from a brutal dictatorship, whereas the feasible alternative provided by the aggressor to the target society would be political freedom and economic prosperity. In other words, the consequences of the war is to the benefit of the target society at large, and not a deterioration in the standards of living. This is the main cause for continued instability in the majority of wars during the past three decades, especially Syria, Libya, and Iraq. In summary, the desired alternative should offer the minimum required force necessary to enable both political- and economic solutions to the beneficiary society. If the main objective of any military conflict is to cause destruction, then the war is already lost before it even started.

So, to mitigate the effectiveness of 5GW, the relationship between the three sectors of society, namely the public, private, and social sectors, should be in harmony (this harmony constituting the centre of gravity of the society). If this centre of gravity is interrupted or compromised, problems will arise within the affected society which will then be exploited by its adversaries. Within the current Great Powers Competition, every society has an adversary, why it is now more important than ever before for all societies to evaluate how they can reinforce their respective centers of gravity.

Last Update: 20 2300Z March 2023


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