Third generation warfare is a term created by the U.S. military in 1989, referring to the tactics of warfare used after the Wehrmacht's development of the blitzkrieg. Third generation war focuses on using speed and surprise to bypass the enemy's lines and collapse their forces from the rear. Essentially, this was the end of linear warfare on a tactical level, with units seeking not simply to meet each other face to face but to out-maneuver each other to gain the greatest advantage.
The emphasis on maneuvering and speed to bypass enemy engagement remains a common strategy throughout the world, and collapsing an enemy's defenses by striking at deeper targets is—in a somewhat different way—a major strategy in fourth generation warfare.
3rd generation warfare marks a break in the previous generations primarily in the realm of centralization. The previous generations were marked by centralization and an attempt to create order in an increasingly disorderly act. 3rd generation warfare embraces this chaos in warfare by decentralizing. This decentralization allows for the lower level commanders to exercise their own initiative in an engagement. This decentralization increases the speed of the Boyd Cycle (OODA Loop or Decision Cycle) of the 3rd generation fighting force and allows to get inside of their opponent's decision cycle. As a result the opponent's decisions become more and more obsolete compared to the current situation. Due to this the enemy is outmaneuvered and eventually loses their will to fight or generally becomes ineffective.