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Irregular Warfare Podcast

News & Politics Podcasts

The Irregular Warfare Podcast explores an important component of war throughout history. Small wars, drone strikes, special operations forces, counterterrorism, proxies—this podcast covers the full range of topics related to irregular war and features in-depth conversations with guests from the military, academia, and the policy community. The podcast is a collaboration between the Modern War Institute at West Point and Princeton's Empirical Studies of Conflict Project.

The Irregular Warfare Podcast explores an important component of war throughout history. Small wars, drone strikes, special operations forces, counterterrorism, proxies—this podcast covers the full range of topics related to irregular war and features in-depth conversations with guests from the military, academia, and the policy community. The podcast is a collaboration between the Modern War Institute at West Point and Princeton's Empirical Studies of Conflict Project.

Location:

United States

Description:

The Irregular Warfare Podcast explores an important component of war throughout history. Small wars, drone strikes, special operations forces, counterterrorism, proxies—this podcast covers the full range of topics related to irregular war and features in-depth conversations with guests from the military, academia, and the policy community. The podcast is a collaboration between the Modern War Institute at West Point and Princeton's Empirical Studies of Conflict Project.

Language:

English


Episodes

Information Operations for the Information Age: IO in Irregular Warfare

9/24/2021
When information can travel globally at the tap of a finger, irregular warfare professionals must contend with an ever-changing environment. How does strategic messaging tie into operations on the battlefield? How can we build a more information-savvy force? And how can information act as both weapon and warfighting space? Raphael Cohen and Brent Colburn join this episode to discuss these vital questions and more. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC...

Duration:00:46:49

Lessons from the Hardest Place: Twenty Years of War in Afghanistan

9/13/2021
What lessons should the United States military take from twenty years of war in Afghanistan? This episode focuses on US efforts in the Pech valley, where the United States waged an enduring counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaign over many years. Our guests, Wesley Morgan and retired Colonel Bill Ostlund, argue that the Pech represents a microcosm of the broader US war effort in Afghanistan, and that the collapse of the Afghan government following the withdrawal of US forces from the...

Duration:00:52:45

China’s Strategically Irregular Approach: The Art of the Gray Zone

8/27/2021
How does China operate in the space between war and peace to gain strategic advantage in Asia and globally? What do these gray zone activities look like, and how do they facilitate China’s influence in the region? What are the consequences of inconsistent US policy and posture in the Pacific in countering China’s rise? This episode features a conversation with Ambassador David Shear and Dr. Zack Cooper, who explore what China's efforts in the gray zone mean for the United States. Intro...

Duration:00:55:42

An Un-American Way of War: Why the United States Fails at Irregular Warfare

8/23/2021
The United States and other nations have spent billions of dollars and invested untold effort, not to mention lives, in a global campaign against Islamist terrorism—and yet the threat landscape is arguably worse now than it was on 9/11. Despite the importance for national security of understanding how to wage irregular warfare effectively, something in the American way of war, the fundamental culture of the US military, prevents us from doing so. William Wechsler and retired Colonel Liam...

Duration:00:54:41

Land Forces, Irregular Warfare, and a New Strategic Landscape

7/30/2021
The US military and its allies are faced with the challenges of shifting focus toward great power competition while still maintaining the ability to counter threats on the fringes. Where does irregular warfare fit in this new strategic landscape? This episode explores the role of land forces within great power competition. Chief of Staff of the Army General James C. McConville and Dr. Peter Roberts of the Royal United Services Institute discuss the implications for land forces within this...

Duration:00:41:52

Closing the Chapter: Ending Afghanistan for US Army Special Forces

7/16/2021
US Army Special Forces units continued to quietly operate in Afghanistan when conventional troops withdrew around 2015. These soldiers have worked closely with Afghan commandos and government partners to hold the hard-won and fragile stability. What happens when they leave the country this summer? This episode examines that question and features two guests with experiences and perspectives that uniquely equip them to do so. Jessica Donati covers foreign affairs and national security for the...

Duration:00:38:12

Back to the Future: Resetting Special Operations Forces for Great Power Competition

7/2/2021
Special operations forces have been a favorite national security tool during the United States' post-9/11 wars. However, the release of the 2017 National Security Strategy pivoted the United States’ strategic focus from terrorism to near-peer competitors China and Russia. What will be the role of special operations forces (SOF) in this era of great power competition? Where is SOF falling short in the shift to meet this new focus area? Former Under Secretary of Defense for policy Michèle...

Duration:00:47:03

American Decline: Losing the Campaign for Influence

6/18/2021
A new US administration is eager to reengage with both allies and competitors, reasserting the role of global leader that the United States has claimed since World War II. At the same time, former partners wary of indications of US withdrawal from the global stage no longer look to the United States for leadership and current adversaries emboldened by apparent US apathy toward their breaching of international norms are no longer cowed into restraint. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael K. Nagata and...

Duration:00:32:31

How a Group of Women Brought the Fight to the Islamic State

6/4/2021
How did the United States leverage local partners in the fight against the Islamic State? What were the unique dynamics of partnering with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, particularly the Women’s Protection Units? What can this case teach us about warfare, will, and relationships? Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of the New York Times best-selling book The Daughters of Kobani, and retired General Joseph Votel, former commander of US Central Command, join this episode to discuss these...

Duration:00:39:35

Irregular Warfare in the Next World War

5/24/2021
What would a conflict with China look like? How will irregular warfare fit into a conflict before and during large-scale combat operations? Retired Admiral James Stavridis and Elliot Ackerman explore the theme of escalation to large-scale conflict in their New York Times best seller 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, and they join this episode to discuss those questions and more.

Duration:00:44:11

The Harsh Lessons of Anbar: Insurgency, the Awakening, and the rise of ISIS

5/7/2021
In this episode, we discuss US counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq's Anbar province, Iraq—from the 2006 surge through the rise of the Islamic State in 2013–2014—with two guests who both experienced the US COIN fight firsthand. Retired General Robert Neller served as the commandant as the Marine Corps and in 2005–2007, he was the deputy commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Anbar. Dr. Carter Malkasian is a historian who served as an advisor to US military leadership in...

Duration:00:53:43

From SAR to GFA: The ABCs of Conflict Prevention and Stabilization

4/23/2021
How can the military and civilians work together to prevent or manage conflict? Two seminal policy initiatives, the Stabilization Assistance Review and the Global Fragility Act, provide important answers by emphasizing an alignment of defense, development, and diplomatic efforts and delineating clear roles for respective actors in addressing violence and instability. This episode examines how they have fundamentally reshaped the way the US government conceives and responds to conflict around...

Duration:00:28:54

Airpower in Irregular Warfare

4/10/2021
Aviation has played an important role in irregular warfare, from its use by the British against rebellious tribesmen in Iraq and Transjordan in the interwar period to the era of the unblinking eye and precision strike in Afghanistan. Our guests in this episode—retired US Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Trask and Dr. James Kiras—discuss this evolution in the use of airpower to support ground forces. As they explain, rapid technological advances have helped perfect the employment of airpower, and...

Duration:00:36:19

Masters of Irregular Warfare—Past, Present, and Future

3/26/2021
Irregular warfare practitioners have played a major role in just about every war over the past 250 years. In this episode, Dr. John Arquilla and Maj. Gen. John Brennan explain how the masters of irregular warfare have been able to achieve strategic effects even while losing tactical-level engagements—and offer recommendations for how to prepare and employ irregular warfare capabilities to address the major threats to US national security in the future. SPECIAL NOTE: We recently announced...

Duration:00:46:48

The View from Washington: Civilian Oversight of SOF

3/12/2021
As policymakers’ focus shifts from counterterrorism to great power competition, the implications for special operations forces are unclear. In this episode, our guests—Senator Joni Ernst and Owen West, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict—argue that SOF is uniquely suited to address irregular warfare challenges in the era of great power competition. However, limited understanding of these threats among policymakers in Washington, budget...

Duration:00:25:51

War Entrepreneurs: Economic Drivers of Insurgency, Terrorism, and Crime

2/25/2021
What drives illicit violence by substate groups such as terrorists, insurgents, and criminals—and how can states counter these threats? Our guests in this episode, Juan Zarate and Gary Shiffman, argue that social science provides tools to understand why illicit violence occurs. And by understanding why it occurs, states can develop targeted sanctions and military strategies that disassemble and disrupt violent nonstate groups. This approach has implications for how policymakers and...

Duration:00:49:33

Pacific Gambit: The Role of Irregular Warfare in Australia’s Great Strategic Shift

2/11/2021
Australia is undergoing the most fundamental strategic realignment since the Second World War, toward a focus on threats closer to home without reliance on the United States. In that context, what role does irregular warfare play in Australian national security strategy? What lessons does the Australian experience hold for the United States as they both transition from the post-9/11 wars to great power competition? David Kilcullen and Andy Maher join this episode to discuss. Intro music:...

Duration:00:48:30

Institution Building as a Counterinsurgency Tool: The Case of Colombia

1/28/2021
In 2016, the Colombian government and FARC rebels signed a peace deal, ending over five decades of guerrilla war. What lessons can be gleaned from the case for the irregular warfare community? Former US Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker and former assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict Caryn Hollis argue that effective US interagency coordination, bipartisan congressional support, and a focus on building institutions and stabilizing the security...

Duration:00:42:56

Competing for Influence: Operations in the Information Environment

1/15/2021
Information in its many forms has become a significant component of national power—the primary medium of competition between the United States and its adversaries. Our guests in this episode tackle that subject. Lt. Gen. Lori Reynolds is the US Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for information and Dr. Thomas Rid is a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University’ School of Advanced International Studies. Both are experts in their respective fields, each looking at this competition...

Duration:00:42:48

Artificial Intelligence in Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency

1/1/2021
What role do information and intelligence play in counterinsurgency? How can artificial intelligence assist in tracking and identifying insurgent or terrorist activity? What are some of the opportunities and challenges of using AI in irregular warfare contexts? Retired Gen. Stan McChrystal and Dr. Anshu Roy tackle those questions and more in this episode. They argue that AI allows counterinsurgent and counterterrorist forces to aggregate and process massive amounts of data that illuminates...

Duration:00:43:35