War on the Rocks-logo

War on the Rocks

History >

More Information


United States




How is the Air Force Adapting to Great Power Competition?

Ryan caught a flight with Gen. David Goldfein, the chief of the Air Force, who broke down how his service is preparing for a new era of great power competition. What is the Air Force of today doing to get ready? What will the Air Force of the future look like? With support from two bright Air Force officers studying at Maxwell Air Force Base -Lynn Haack and Stephen Bressett- he puts some meat on the bones of "multi-domain operations," where the U.S. military is ending up on Space Force,...


The Unmasking of Ned Stark and the Future of Air Force Leadership

Almost exactly one year ago, an Air Force colonel using a pseudonym -- 'Ned Stark' -- penned an article for War on the Rocks . This cri de coeur -- a call for major reforms to how the Air Force selects and promotes leaders -- quickly burned across the author's service. It fueled an important debate and even elicited a supportive response and job offer from none other than Gen. David L. Goldfein, the chief of staff of the Air Force. 'Stark' penned more articles for War on the Rocks and the...


Fresh Voices on Grand Strategy

It's time to rejuvenate America's national debate on grand strategy. And that's just what we try to do in this latest episode, which was recorded at the Michael J. Zak lecture series hosted by the Center for a New American Security. The debate got spirited! So who are these fresh voices? If you're an avid War on the Rocks listener and reader, you might already know some of them (because we are the freshest national security publication out there, amirite?): Rebecca Lissner (U.S. Naval War...


Civil-Military Relations Gone Wild?

Debates over civil-military relations have reached a fever pitch since the 2016 presidential campaign and the beginning of the Trump administration. Many have focused on the top-down questions: What role should retired generals play in our political system? What are the consequences of having so many former military leaders at the upper-most ranks of a presidential administration? Should we be worried about the state of civilian leadership in the Pentagon? But to put those in their right...


With the Caliphate Crushed, What's Next?

With the last slivers of Syrian territory being wrested from the grasp of the Islamic State, where does the war against this tenacious terrorist organization go next? To understand where we came and where we are heading, we assembled a fantastic cast of experts that co-hosts Usha Sahay and Ryan Evans did their best to wrangle: Rasha al-Aqeedi of FRPI, Ryan Fishel of the U.S. Air Force, Hassan Hassan of the Tahrir Institute, Haroro Ingram of Program on Extremism at GWU, Brett Reichert of...


Mayhem and Misadventures in the Middle East

The Middle East is the region that keeps on giving, and taking away. How has the American approach to the use of force evolved in Syria and Iraq? And what is the relationship between U.S. politics and these policies? How is Turkey preparing for the possible withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria? What is Iraq's view of the region's conflicts? Is the Trump administration really taking the fight to Iran somehow? What of other great powers interests? Our guests tackle these questions and many...


Ready to Compete? America's Military and Technological Edge

About a year after the National Defense Strategy was launched, what progress has been made when it comes to America's edge against its great power rivals? And what role do great power partners, like India, have to play? Over drinks at the Jefferson Hotel's Quill Bar (our old school recording location, as longtime listeners of the show will remember) Elbridge Colby, Tanvi Madan, Roger Zakheim, and Nina Kollars debate these questions and more. Production by Tre Hester


No Good, Very Bad Ideas in National Security

Bad ideas. How much trouble do they cause in national security? How do they disrupt or hinder the protection and advancement of American interests? Where do they come from? How do they gain traction? Our friends at the Center for Strategic and International Studies decided to delve more deeply into these questions and more with their project, “Bad Ideas in National Security.” It features short articles from various thinkers on recently considered and not too obvious bad ideas in the...


Full Steam Ahead: Naval Competition with China

With a new era of great power competition upon us, the U.S. Navy is in the midst of developing its future fleet. The good people up at the U.S. Naval War College are chipping in to help their service figure out the answers to big strategic and operational questions. This episode was recorded on the sidelines of the college's "Bridging the Straits" conference and focuses on the dynamics of maritime competition with the People's Republic of China. We have a very special guest host for this...


Jaw-Jaw: Will Xi's Third Revolution Last?

What is Xi Jinping’s “revolution” in Chinese politics? How did he amass the power to enact his ambitious agenda? Is he in danger of being toppled? Or is he effectively a dictator for life? In the second episode of “Jaw-Jaw,” Liz Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations and our host Brad Carson discuss the future of China and its powerful leader, Xi Jinping. Please enjoy the newest addition to the War on the Rocks family of podcasts. You can subscribe to “Jaw-Jaw” by clicking here or...


Jaw Jaw: China is a Funny Sort of Revisionist Power — A Conversation with Dean Cheng

What is the future of U.S.-Chinese relations? Will a rising China seek to overturn the U.S.-led international order? What is China doing inside the first island chain? In cyberspace? Orbital space? Is China more like Imperial Germany or is it more like France in the late 19th century? Dean Cheng and Brad Carson explore these questions and many more in the inaugural episode of “Jaw-Jaw,” the newest addition to the War on the Rocks family of podcasts. Dean even recommends some of his...


Net Assessment: The China Hand

This week’s Net Assessment podcast featured a deep-dive into the Vice President’s early October speech on the competition with China. Largely drowned out by the Kavanaugh SCOTUS controversy, Melanie, Chris, and Bryan give this important speech due consideration, to include administration views on Taiwan, China’s defense buildup, and its growing global influence. The crew also discussed foreign aid, the F-35, the deficit, the alleged assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, and the resignation of...


Two Editors Go Nuclear on Each Other: A Conversation with Gideon Rose

Can two great power publications peacefully co-exist? Or are they fated to clash? And what if you throw nuclear weapons into the mix? Gideon Rose and Ryan Evans, the benevolent editorial autocrats of Foreign Affairs and War on the Rocks seek to answer these questions and more. They dive deep into a new special issue of Foreign Affairs: “Do Nuclear Weapons Matter?” The issue features a diverse range of thinkers on nuke – some of whom have also written for WOTR – including Elbridge Colby,...


Introducing Net Assessment

What happens when a libertarian, a conservative hawk, and a constitutional powers specialist walk into a podcast studio? 'Net Assessment' happens. Welcome to the hottest new national security podcast hosted by Melanie Marlowe, Christopher Preble, and Bryan McGrath. This is a show about competing visions of America's role in the world. In each episode, they will be discussing a featured article, airing their grievances, and giving attaboys. In the first episode of this bi-weekly series, our...


Horns of a Dilemma: Vietnam's Indelible Legacy: How the War Changed National Security Policymaking

Half a century later, the Vietnam War continues to shape U.S. foreign policy, from its debates over foreign intervention to the institutions of its military. Why does the war remain such a poignant influence, and what lessons have policymakers, scholars, and the public learned (or failed to learn) from America's disastrous campaign in Southeast Asia? WOTR Managing Editor Usha Sahay had the chance to discuss the legacy of Vietnam with an all-star cast in Austin, Texas.


Training the Military for the Next War

How should the U.S. military prepare for the conflicts of the future? Military threats in the cyber, digital, and information domains present new training challenges. Synthetic training” seeks to address these obstacles - but what is it, anyway, how does it work in practice, and is the military trying to throw too much new tech at the problem? Managing Editor Usha Sahay discussed the future of military training with three experts in the perfect setting: over cocktails in a seaside...


A Chat with the Chief: Gen. David Goldfein on the People and Future of the U.S. Air Force

In this episode, Ryan sat down with Gen. David Goldfein, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. We had an in-depth, candid conversation about his service's personnel challenges, the selection and education of leaders, as well as strategy, warfighting, and the books that have influenced him. Goldfein also explained why he engaged with the pseudonymous Col. 'Ned Stark' and why it is so important for people in the Air Force to write and publicly engage. Many of the questions I asked came...


The 100th Episode: Is a Major War Coming?

The War on the Rocks podcast celebrates its 100th episode with a blockbuster group of close friends of the site. The entire episode is an attempt to answer a straightforward, but devilishly complex question: Is a major inter-state war likely in the next several years? Join Ryan Evans as he corrals Kori Schake, Frank Gavin, Colin Kahl, William Inboden, and Hal Brands to sort through the scenarios, opportunities, and possibilities (over drinks, of course). This question and discussion started...


A Soldier Showing Us the Hidden Face of War

While on a recent visit to Copenhagen, Ryan sat down with his old friend Martin Tamm Anderson. Martin, who recently left the Danish Army, met Ryan in Helmand Province years ago. In the years since, Martin has been busy. After working as a military advisor for the Oscar-nominated film, "A War," he created a new television show with his colleagues at Drive Studios called "The Hidden Face of War" (DR3). In the show, Martin visits active warzones and speaks to people on all sides of the...


A Conversation With Clint Watts on Influence and Information in the Social Media Era

How has our understanding of Russian influence operations evolved since the 2016 election? Just a few days before Trump was elected president, Clint Watts, Andrew Weisburd, and J.M. Berger sounded the alarm in a War on the Rocks article about the Kremlin's efforts to undermine American democracy. Since then, the world has learned a lot more about how Russia influenced the election and, more generally, the continued dangers of influence campaigns and information warfare. Clint's new book,...