The ‘crime-war’ operational environment, found in failed and failing-states dominated by non-state (criminal) soldiers, has been increasing in scope for decades. This trend is viewed as part of the process of transition from the modern (Third) to the post-modern (Fourth) epoch. Within this environment, non-state entities utilize asymmetric warfare against nation-states. The most dangerous of these opponents are those whose approach is asymmetric by nature (due to their network-type organization) and who thereby represent a direct challenger to the nation-state form. Al Qaeda fits both of these conditions and enough is known about its operations and structure to allow its asymmetric warfare components— based on its space-time, matter-energy, and doctrinal-organizational elements— to be analyzed. Findings indicate that Al Qaeda has a clear advantage with regard to the space-time and organizational-doctrinal components of warfare. It is currently deficient in the matter-energy component but it is projected that it (or its descendent form) will eventually obtain directed energy weapons. These findings, along with the emergence of wars increasingly fought over social and political organization rather than sovereignty, have implications for both counter-asymmetric warfare and Kondratieff Waves research.
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