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Modern War Institute

News & Politics Podcasts

The Modern War Institute podcast is the flagship podcast of the Modern War Institute at West Point. Featured guests include senior military and defense leaders, scholars, and others who discuss the most important issues related to modern conflict.

The Modern War Institute podcast is the flagship podcast of the Modern War Institute at West Point. Featured guests include senior military and defense leaders, scholars, and others who discuss the most important issues related to modern conflict.


United States


The Modern War Institute podcast is the flagship podcast of the Modern War Institute at West Point. Featured guests include senior military and defense leaders, scholars, and others who discuss the most important issues related to modern conflict.




Global Order in the Age of the Drone

In this episode, Paul Lushenko joins to discuss armed drones—in particular the impact their proliferation will have on global order. That's the subject of a new book for which he was a coeditor. Why do states—and nonstate actors—choose to use armed drones as weapons of war? How does that decision affect these actors' international reputations? How do questions of law and morality intersect when it comes to drones? And beyond impacting the character of warfare, to what extent will armed,...


A Conversation with the Chief of the National Guard Bureau

In this episode, John Amble speaks to Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau. A key pillar of the US defense enterprise, the National Guard is also fundamentally unique. Composed of fifty-four separate entities, it is inherently joint given its Army and Air Force components. It must also balance two, parallel missions—both as a source of combat capability for the joint force and a mechanism to respond to a wide range of emergencies domestically. After twenty years of war in...


The Iraq War in Retrospect

In this episode of the MWI Podcast, Maj. Jake Miraldi is joined by retired Col. Frank Sobchak, one of the authors of the Army's 1,300-page, two-volume study of the Iraq War. He discusses how the study came into being and why it's important, along with its major conclusions about the war and why its release was delayed for more than two years. Note: This episode was originally released in 2019.


The Decisive Battle of the Nagorno-Karabakh War

Observers watched the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War closely, searching for indicators of the character of warfare on tomorrow's battlefields. The lessons extracted have covered advanced technology and unmanned platforms, proxy dynamics, the ongoing relevance of armor, and more. But some of the most important lessons have received much less attention. They center around the increasingly unavoidable importance of combat in cities and are drawn principally from the battle for the city of Shusha—a...


Taking Stock of America's Pacing Threat

China is increasingly labeled America's "pacing threat" by US national security leaders. That makes it more important than ever to understand China with an appropriate degree of nuance. How do politics and military capability overlay on one another in China? How does Beijing view the US-China relationship? How do things like history and military culture factor into Chinese strategy and capabilities? This episode features a conversation with Larry Wortzel, who has spent decades studying China...


Breaking Down the NATO Summit

President Joe Biden recently made his first trip to Europe. Between meetings with G-7 leaders and a bilateral meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, he attended his first NATO summit. Those events offer an opportunity to assess issues of European security, and specifically the current state of NATO. To do so, John Amble is joined in this episode by Lauren Speranza, director of transatlantic defense and security at the Center for European Policy Analysis.


Training for Tomorrow's Battlefield

This episode features a conversation with Brig. Gen. David Doyle, commander of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. He describes how training at JRTC—one of the Army's three combat training centers—is changing rapidly and dramatically to meet the challenges that soldiers and units will confront in the contemporary global operational environment. As you'll hear, that training isn't just a pillar of Army readiness, but an integral component of the bigger picture of Army...


Mosul, Urban Destruction, and Political Instability

In this episode of the MWI Podcast, MWI's John Amble speaks to James Verini. An award-winning journalist, he spent months reporting from Mosul as Iraqi forces, backed by US troops, fought to retake the city from Mosul. In the conversation, he not only discusses the fighting he reported on, but also offers important context about Mosul, its people, and its history—all of which is crucial to make sense of urban conflict. As he describes, Mosul also shows how urban conflict's destructive nature...


How Militaries Adapt

What are the hallmarks of an adaptable military force? What types of leaders best create cultures of adaptability in their formations? How do such forces employ rapidly changing technologies? And how does doctrine drive or limit adaptation? Dr. Nora Bensahel and retired Lt. Gen. Dave Barno—authors of the book Adaptation Under Fire: How Militaries Change in Wartime—join this episode to discuss these questions and more.


Survival at the Top of the World

In this episode Ryan Burke—codirector of MWI's Project 6633—visits the Air Force’s Arctic Survival School at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. He speaks with several members of the school’s staff, who describe the unique challenges—matters of life and death—that forces operating in the extreme environment of the Arctic confront. Listen as they also explain how they train students at the school so they are best prepared and equipped to manage and overcome those challenges.


The Future Defense of Europe

This episode features a discussion with retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges. He served until 2017 as the commanding general of US Army Europe and now holds the pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis. Listen as he shares his insights on the topic of European defense—including a range of issues that make it especially complex today and will make it even more so in the future. The conversation touches on everything from logistical challenges to interoperability...


Special Operations Forces in the High North

In this episode, Col. Brian Rauen and Capt. Barrett Martin join to talk about the increasing importance of the Arctic. Col. Rauen is the commander of 10th Special Forces Group, and Capt. Martin is one of the officers assigned to the group. 10th Group has a particular focus on Europe, which means the unit has a natural organizational interest in the Arctic region. As you’ll hear our guests explain, though, that interest is growing. They discuss why that's the case, and they talk about some of...


How Science Can Help Us Meet the Cognitive Demands of War

This episode features a conversation with Dr. Amy Kruse, who was at the time of recording the chief scientific officer at the Platypus Institute. She discusses "Human 2.0," a concept she describes a vision of where humans are headed in terms of cognitive performance. She also describes how this concept overlays on what we know about the cognitive demands of war. Note: This episode was originally released in 2018.


The British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan

This episode features a discussion with Simon Akam, author of the book The Changing of the Guard: The British Army Since 9/11. The book tells the story of nearly two decades of the service's experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Critical of the British Army's leadership at times, it aims to jumpstart an honest conversation about the those wars, the service's performance in them, the relationship between the UK military and the British people, and more. It's an insightful, thought-provoking...


Why Combatives?

This episode of the MWI Podcast features a conversation with Matt Larsen, known in many corners of the Army as the father of the modern combatives. He explains why he thinks combatives training is so important, but he also talks a lot about the notion of a warrior ethos—what it is and why, as he argues, it’s something that needs to exist throughout the entire Army, not just in infantry or other combat arms units.


The Past, Present, and Future of Amphibious Operations

Most people know something about the most famous amphibious operations in military history—the D-Day landings and Gallipoli, for example. But what about an amphibious night attack on the shores of Tuscany in 1555? Or a Turkish amphibious assault in response to a coup in Cyprus in 1974? This episode features a conversation with Tim Heck, co-editor of the book On Contested Shores: The Evolving Role of Amphibious Operations in the History of Warfare, and explores the past, present, and future...


The US Army's Quest to be Ready for the Future

This episode features a conversation about innovation and the future battlefield and features two guests perfectly suited to discuss those topics. Maj. Gen. John George served as the deputy director of the Futures and Concepts Center and is now the commanding general of the Combat Capabilities Development Command. Mr. Jay Harrison served as Futures Command's first command innovation officer. As they make clear, the ways in which the Army is preparing for the future involve robotics,...


Security in the High Latitudes

In an era of renewed great power competition, what are the risks of that competition migrating to the Arctic region and Antarctica? How might it play out? What are states' key interests in the polar regions? How should we conceptualize issues of security and geopolitics in both areas? This episode tackles those questions and more. It features a discussion with Liz Buchanan and Ryan Burke, co-directors of the brand new Project 6633.


Proxies and American Strategy in Africa

The recent decision to withdraw seven hundred US servicemembers from Somalia offers a timely opportunity to explore a few important questions: How does the US military work with partners in pursuit of US objectives? And more specifically, what role does proxy warfare play in US strategy in Africa. Those questions are at the center of the discussion in this episode. (Note: This is a sample episode from the Irregular Warfare Podcast. If you enjoy it, be sure to subscribe to hear a wide range...


Scanning the Future Battlefield with Former Deputy SECDEF Robert Work

In this episode, MWI's John Amble speaks to Robert Work, former deputy secretary of defense. He describes his expectations for the future of conflict, including the role unmanned and autonomous systems are likely to play, how the way the military acquires new equipment will change, and more. Note: This episode was originally recorded and released in 2019.