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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 University’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 University’s Empirical Studies of Conflict Project.

Language:

English


Episodes

Stay Behind Operations

2/8/2024
Episode 98 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast delves into resistance warfare—with a specific focus on stay behind operations. Our guests begin by contrasting conventional conflict with resistance warfare. They then discuss the utility of stay behind operations by examining how small states can impose outsized costs on occupying powers. More specifically, they address how distributed resistance elements can frustrate aggressive powers by operating behind enemy lines. Finally, they end by providing policymakers with a framework for crafting indigenous, stay behind forces in the digital age.

Duration:00:45:57

Armed Politics

1/25/2024
Episode 97 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast focuses on a theory of armed politics as proposed by General Sir Nick Carter and Dr. Joe Felter. Our guests begin by describing the shifting landscape of the international order from the Cold War to today, and the resultant impact on alliances, partnerships, and competition across the globe. General Carter proposes a theory that emphasizes the need for those engaged in war today to deeply understand every level of politics, as neglecting this understanding can have catastrophic effects. Our guests reflect on the challenges of implementation, including tactical trade-offs and measuring effects. They conclude by considering the impact of rapidly evolving technology on this theory of armed politics, as well as the roles of the United States and United Kingdom in a world faced with disarray.

Duration:00:52:18

The Stability-Instability Paradox: How Nuclear Weapons Incentivize Irregular Warfare

1/12/2024
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is publishing! Do nuclear weapons play a stabilizing role by discouraging nuclear-armed states to go to war with one another? If so, are these states then incentivized to pursue their objectives vis-à-vis one another by indirect means and proxy conflict? These are the parallel dynamics described as the stability-instability paradox. Our guests on this episode, Professor Sumit Ganguly and Dr. Tricia Bacon, describe the theoretical underpinnings of this paradox and explore a real-world example—the 1999 Kargil conflict and the broader pattern of the India-Pakistan rivalry—to trace the impact of nuclear weapons on irregular warfare. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:53:45

Active Defense: China’s Military Strategy Since 1949

12/29/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is publishing! How have the revolutionary roots of China’s military forces influenced Chinese military strategy? How has the doctrine of the People’s Liberation Army been influenced by global events, changes in the international system, and technological advancement? And what does China’s military strategy—shaped by all of these factors—look like today, particularly with respect to the flashpoints of Taiwan and the South China Sea? This episode features a discussion with retired Lieutenant General Charles W. Hooper and Professor M. Taylor Fravel, who join our hosts to explore the historical arc of contemporary Chinese military strategy since 1949. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:50:59

The Defense of Europe: The Trans-Atlantic Relationship after Two Years of War

12/14/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is publishing! Nearly two years have passed since Russia invaded Ukraine. In the lead-up to the war, European states largely agreed on the importance of supporting Russia, but disagreed about the optimal form—and scale—of that support. In many ways, the invasion served an extraordinary unifying function within Europe and strengthened the trans-Atlantic alliance. But what is the state of those relations now? And where does European defense policy stand after two years of war? To explore those questions, we’re joined in this episode by Ravi Agrawal, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy, and retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of US Army Europe and coauthor of the book Future War and the Defence of Europe. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:49:17

Fighting for Survival: Israel’s Counterterrorism Strategy

12/12/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is publishing! In the first installment of a three-part miniseries on irregular warfare in Israel, we turn our attention to Israel’s counterterrorism strategy. We begin by overviewing the phases of this strategy before discussing the adaptation of terrorist tactics, how counterterrorism strategy evolves to address that adaptation, and what we are now witnessing as an evolution of cognitive warfare. Our guest is retired Colonel Miri Eisin. During her twenty years in the Israel Defense Forces, she served as an intelligence officer in combat units, assistant to the director of military intelligence, and deputy head of the Combat Intelligence Corps. Miri now serves as the director of the Reichman University’s International Institute for Counterterrorism. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:29:27

IW Lessons from Gaza: Lawfare, Humanitarian Crises, and Urban Combat

12/1/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is publishing! For nearly two months, three powerful dynamics have converged in Gaza: lawfare, a humanitarian crisis, and urban combat. This episode examines those subjects and explores how they play out and influence one another in Gaza. Our hosts are joined by retired General Joseph Votel, the distinguished chair of West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center and former commander of US Central Command, and Dr. Raphael Cohen, the director of the Strategy and Doctrine Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE. They explore Hamas’s hybrid strategy in Gaza and Israel’s traditional counterterrorism approach in the Middle East, the importance of addressing lawfare and humanitarian considerations head on, and the challenges of operating in urban terrain and navigating geopolitical complexities that may require the United States and its allies to reconsider their global force structure. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:52:57

Dealers and Brokers in Proxy Wars: Exploring All Means Available

11/17/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is publishing! When two adversaries confront one another militarily, they are rarely the only participants. Either side might delegate portions of its war efforts to proxies, for example. But there are a wide range of other roles that intermediaries also play. This episode explores those roles and features a discussion with Dr. Michael G. Vickers, former US under secretary of defense for intelligence, and Dr. Vladimir Rauta, an associate professor at the University of Reading. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:58:00

Taking the Long View on Hamas

11/14/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is publishing! In the first installment of a three-part miniseries on irregular warfare in Israel, Adam Darnley-Stuart speaks to Dr. Levi West, a renowned counterterrorism analyst, about the history and strategy of Hamas. Dr. West offers nuanced insights into Hamas operations and the likelihood that the organization's tactics might spread and be adopted by other groups around the world. The discussion links the tiers of national security together from tactics to strategy, exploring the effects of current events on the enduring friction between Israel and Iran, for example, and the broader impacts on the geopolitical environment. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:31:58

Irregular Warfare at Sea: The Cod Wars and Sea Shepherd

11/3/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is publishing! What do the Cod Wars—a years-long series of confrontations between Iceland and the United Kingdom over North Atlantic fishing rights—and the operations of the marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd teach us about irregular warfare in the sea domain? How do the actions of states and both nonstate and substate actors intersect to shape the maritime operational environment in which irregular warfare at sea plays out? In this episode, Kevin Bilms, a career civil servant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Dr. Claude Berube, a retired Navy commander who teaches at the US Naval Academy, join hosts Ben Jebb and Lisa Munde to explore this fascinating and important subject. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:51:47

Subversion: The Strategic Weaponization of Narratives

10/20/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is publishing! As the global information environment rapidly changes, revisionist states are increasingly enabled to wage information warfare. They leverage networked information systems to sow political chaos in target societies. But as states weaponize strategic narratives to advance their interests, what can democracies and their populations do to protect against foreign information operations? To explore this challenging topic, this episode features a conversation with Dr. Andreas Krieg, a senior lecturer at the School of Security Studies at King’s College London and the author of Subversion: The Strategic Weaponization of Narratives, and Dr. Andrew Whiskeyman, an associate professor at the National Defense University’s College of Information and Cyberspace and former chief of US Central Command's Information Operations Division. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:54:37

The Prisoner’s Dilemma: Hostage Diplomacy 101

10/5/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is producing! Why do states engage in hostage taking to advance their interests? What incentives are in place that make them choose hostage taking over other, more traditional instruments of power? How do conventional international relations concepts like deterrence apply to the unique challenge of hostage taking? This episode examines these questions and more, as our hosts are joined for a fascinating discussion by Ambassador Roger D. Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the US Department of State, and Dr. Dani Gilbert, an assistant professor of political science at Northwestern University whose research explores the causes and consequences of hostage taking and hostage recovery. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:46:01

Gray Zone: China’s Political Warfare

9/21/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is producing! What are the fundamental tenets of China's political warfare? What does it look like when Beijing employs political warfare in the real world? And how is it different, in both theory and practice, from traditional Western conceptualizations of warfare and its political component? This episode explores those questions and more. It features a conversation with two guests whose deep expertise gives them important perspectives on the subject. Dr. Ross Babbage is a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, served as the head of strategic analysis in Australia’s Office of National Assessments, and is the author of the book The Next Major War: Can the US and its Allies Win against China? David Stilwell is the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, a retired US Air Force officer, and former director of the China Strategic Focus Group at US Indo-Pacific Command. Together, they examine China’s practice of political warfare and how other states can counter it. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:50:58

Inside the US-China Tech War

9/8/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is producing! Relations between the United States and China are characterized by growing competition and tension. This is true in a wide range of arenas, but particularly so when it comes to technology. US policy in recent years—from the move to keep companies such as Huawei out of US infrastructure to the CHIPS and Science Act enacted in 2022—is aimed at both preventing Chinese spying and containing China’s very ability to access high-end computing power. But where is US-China tech competition headed? In this episode—part of an episode swap with FP Live, produced by Foreign Policy—you’ll hear from Dan Wang, who explores that question along with Ravi Agrawal, Foreign Policy editor in chief. A visiting scholar at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center, Wang explains whether US regulatory measures are effective in actually curbing China’s ability to produce high-end semiconductor chips and proliferate its technology around the world. He also describes his pessimism about China’s long-term economic rise and his belief that the continued rapid pace of China’s technological development is not inevitable. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:41:19

Who’s Watching the Watchmen? Congressional Oversight of Irregular Warfare

8/25/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is producing! Irregular warfare, by its nature, includes activities that distinguish it from those traditionally conducted by conventional forces. But if congressional oversight is designed with the latter in mind, does this create gaps in oversight of irregular warfare? If so, what can Congress do to address the problem? Our guests on this episode are Dr. Oona Hathaway, director of the Yale Law School Center for Global Legal Challenges, and Dr. Thomas Campbell, professor at Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law and a former member of Congress. They discuss the complexities of the congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the unique considerations surrounding Title 10 and Title 50 activities, and the responsibilities of various committees in overseeing these actions. They conclude by sharing their insights on what this means for both practitioners and policymakers. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:52:05

Hindsight and Foresight: A Twenty-Year Retrospective on Irregular Warfare and Counterinsurgency

8/11/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is producing! In what ways do irregular warfare and counterinsurgency overlap? Is China engaged in irregular warfare against its adversaries? What are some of the failures of the wars and conflicts of the last twenty years and why did they occur? What do IW practitioners need to do to avoid the mistakes and to ensure they learn the hard-won lessons of the last twenty years in IW and COIN? This episode explores these deeply important questions and features a conversation with two of the leading experts on the subject: David Kilcullen and John Nagl. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:53:46

The Rise of Digital Repression: How Technology is Reshaping Power, Politics, and Resistance

7/28/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is producing! What happens when authoritarianism expands into online environments? A form of digital repression takes shape. But what does that actually look like? What are the specific ways that authoritarian regimes use new technologies to control their populations? And how are resistance groups adapting to overcome digital repression? This episode addresses those questions as hosts Matt Moellering and Adam Darnley-Stuart are joined by Steven Feldstein, author of the book The Rise of Digital Repression: How Technology is Reshaping Power, Politics, and Resistance, and John Tullius, who retired from the CIA in 2019 and now teaches classes on intelligence at the Naval Postgraduate School. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:49:56

Treating or Feeding the Disease? Elite Capture of the Security Sector

7/14/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is producing! What does it mean when a state’s security sector undergoes what scholars call “elite capture”—a form of corruption in which military and defense resources are leveraged to benefit a small, powerful segment of society? What problems contribute to elite capture and is it possible to disentangle them? From a US policy perspective, what can be done to limit the risk of elite capture when engaging with countries vulnerable to it? This episode addresses all of these questions as Ambassador Anne Patterson, retired Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, and Dr. Louis-Alexandre Berg join host Julia McClenon. They bring their combined experience and expertise to a wide-ranging discussion on a deeply challenging policy issue. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:52:45

Proxy Warfare, Theory and Practice

6/30/2023
Why do states engage in proxy warfare? How does what scholars call principal-agent theory explain the way proxy warfare actually plays out—particularly the challenges that arise when the interests of a principal and a proxy diverge? And as the US military continues to prepare for large-scale combat operations, how should the ability to leverage proxies factor into planning? This episode addresses these questions and more in wide-ranging discussing featuring three guests. Dr. Nakissa Jahanbani is an assistant professor in West Point's Department of Social Sciences and a researcher at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Dr. Vladimir Rauta is a lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Reading and the editor of the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Proxy Wars. And retired Lieutenant General Ken Tovo served for almost forty years in the Army, including as commanding general of US Army Special Operations Command. Note: This episode was originally recorded and released by the Social Science of War podcast, a coproduction between the Modern War Institute at West Point and West Point's Department of Social Sciences.

Duration:00:52:23

Securing the Cyber Domain: Exploring Cyber Policy in the Department of Defense

6/16/2023
Be sure to visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website to see all of the new articles, podcast episodes, and other content the IWI team is producing! Is it possible to deter adversaries in the cyber domain—and if so, how? What should the US Department of Defense be learning from the role of cyber in the war in Ukraine? How do activities in the cyber domain overlay on—and influence—irregular warfare? In this episode, hosts Matt Moellering and Adam Darnley-Stuart are joined by two expert guests. Ms. Mieke Eoyang is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy and Dr. Erica Lonergan is an assistant professor at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point and coauthor of the book Escalation Dynamics in Cyberspace. Together, they examine some of the deeply challenging questions presented by the increasing prominence of cyberspace as a warfighting domain. Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Duration:00:54:57