For Deleuze and Guattari, nomads are characterized above all by the fact that their mode of existence is antithetical to the system of the State, of cultivation, and of striation, which they describe as sedentary. Because the nomads were so decisively defeated, history has always dismissed them, and indeed "history is one with the triumph of States." (p.394) Nomadism becomes, for D+G, a revolutionnary alternative to the State, although they are always careful to distinguish between their "de jure" or conceptual distinctions and all the "de facto" mixes and transitions that actually occur.
D+G describe the nomadic occupation of smooth space as "vortical", as distributed by turbulence, " as a "distribution of heterogeneity in free space --" a " local absolute." It was the nomadic mode of warfare that so distinguished them. Their "pack" -like movement, the formidable assemblage of man/horse/bow, their warrior way of life--animated by a fundamental indiscipline-- constitute what D+G call "the war machine" -- the pure form of exteriority. Deleuze and Guattari mitigate the identification of the war machine with making war by claiming that the nomadic way of the war machine is primarily a determination to occupy smooth space. But when the city stands in the way of nomadic free movement, war is the result.
Thus every operation against the state is associated with the nomad: "insubordination, rioting, guerilla warfare, or revolution as act -- it can be said that a war machine has revived, that a new nomadic potential has appeared." (p.386) "a non-subjectified machine assemblage with no intrinsic properties, only situational ones." (p353)
For Deleuze and Guattari, the nomad is the "outsider." Nomadic thought is "outside" thought (an expression they borrow from Blanchot) Nomadic science is "minor science" which is itinerant, ambulant, and follows flows in vectorial fields accross which singularities are scattered like so many "accidents." (p372) Matter, in nomad science, is never prepared and therefore homogenized matter, (see smooth/striated) but is essentially laden with singularities,which constitute a form of content. (see form/matter) In describing nomad art, Deleuze and Guattari describe "a nomadic absolute, as a local integration moving from part to part in an infinite succession of linkages and changes in direction. It is an absolute that is one with becoming itself, with process." (Mille Plateaus, p 494)