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A weekly look at the weapons systems and tactics that both endanger the world and keep it safe.

A weekly look at the weapons systems and tactics that both endanger the world and keep it safe.
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A weekly look at the weapons systems and tactics that both endanger the world and keep it safe.




America’s Secret Nuclear Upgrades

If you just look at the number of warheads, the U.S. nuclear arsenal is a small fraction of the size it was during the Cold War. But is that even the right measure anymore? This week on War College, Reuters’ Scott Paltrow discusses a special report the wire service will release this week. Paltrow’s investigation discovered vast improvements to bombs whose names have stayed the same as their power increased tenfold, and weapons with adjustable yields that could lead to the ultimate...

Duration: 00:23:38

A Deadly Warrior’s Peaceful Homecoming

War is hell and the people who fight often have a hard time coming home. Kevin Lacz didn’t. Lacz is a former U.S. Navy SEAL who served alongside Chris Kyle in the battle of Ramadi. He survived, came home, and thrived. He’s written books, spoken to crowds, and even played himself in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. This week on War College, Lacz tells us what it’s like to go to war, what it’s like to want to kill people, and how to turn off the warrior when you come home. You can listen...

Duration: 00:30:19

The Apocalyptic Religion of Stalin’s Russia

Joseph Stalin’s Bolsheviks were atheists. At least in the traditional sense. But that didn’t mean they didn’t believe in prophecy. In fact, it was prophecy that guided their nearly every action. If people would just obey the rules of communism, peace, prosperity, justice and brotherhood would grow from the soil and be mass produced in the factories. So, what happens when a decade passes and the Bolshevik bible has no answers? Blood. You can listen to War College on iTunes, Stitcher,...

Duration: 00:31:47

No, There Is No Clear and Present Danger in Niger

An ambush killed four U.S. Special Operations soldiers in the North African country of Niger. Before the incident, few Americans had ever heard of Niger and fewer knew American soldiers were fighting and dying on the continent. What were the troops (a mix of Green Berets and support troops) doing there, and who is ultimately responsible for their deaths? This week, War College looks for some answers along with Derek Gannon, a retired Green Beret, and Joseph Trevithick, who’s been studying...

Duration: 00:35:57

How the Kurds Defeated ISIS and Lost a Nation In the Same Week

The Kurds live in Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq but have no country to call their own. When they decided to create one for themselves inside Iraq, it didn’t go well. After Iraq's Kurds held an independence referendum—which passed with more than 90 percent of the vote—Baghdad's armed forces moved fast. Its armies and allied Shi'ite militias took the city of Kirkuk and the surrounding oil fields. Within days, the Kurd’s economic engine was gone. At the same time, Kurds in Syria captured...

Duration: 00:51:27

Death Math: Here’s How Many People Would Die in a Nuclear War

Tensions between North Korea and the United States are at a fever pitch. The DPRK’s nukes are scary, but once the first missile flies there’s no way to know who might join the fight and how it might end. That’s scarier. So just how bad could it get? Would global nuclear war leave nothing alive but the cockroaches? We talked with Neil Halloran, who has literally done the math. The answer wasn’t what we expected. You can see Halloran’s full analysis in his fantastic animated...

Duration: 00:41:32

How the Military Is (quietly) Defying Trump by Battling Climate Change

Barack Obama ordered the U.S. military to directly prepare for climate change. Donald Trump’s White House reversed that policy. So what’s a general to do? Tara Copp, Pentagon bureau chief for Military Times, takes us deep into the five-sided box to tell us what the military is doing to fight what they see as a real threat, not just a political football. With more and more civilians in need of rescue, shipyards sinking below sea level, and Arctic ice breaking up, top brass is taking...

Duration: 00:28:11

The CIA’s Super-Secret Submarine Scooper

Sometimes the only way a spy agency can hide a secret is under the brightest of spotlights. This week, we talk with author Josh Dean about how the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology works and about some of its most audacious projects, including the SR-71 Blackbird. According to Dean, though, nothing tops the CIA plan to recover a sunken Soviet submarine from 3-miles deep in the Pacific. Even more than 40 years later, the technology used to do it is nearly state of the art, and...

Duration: 00:39:58

Debunking Two Persistent Myths of the War in Afghanistan

On August 6, 2011, an American Chinook helicopter named Extortion 17 carried 38 people—including 15 members of SEAL Team Six—to an area 40 miles southwest of Kabul. As the helicopter made its final descent to land, a group of insurgents fired an RPG at it. The lucky shot destroyed the helicopter’s rear rotor and the subsequent crash killed everyone on board. It was the greatest loss of life from a single incident in the Afghan war. This week on War College, journalist Ed Darack walks us...

Duration: 00:27:58

How Iran Outsourced Regional War to the Party of God

The Party of God, Hezbollah, is reaching out far beyond its Lebanese roots as they work with Iran to spread their joint vision of holy war. Working with money and equipment from Iran, the Shi’ite militia now operates in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The party dedicated to the destruction of the Israel is doing a lot of work in countries east of its target. Don’t get them wrong, Hezbollah still hates Israel and wants to destroy it, but it’s lending its expertise—and soldiers—to faraway battles....

Duration: 00:27:59

What Game of Thrones Teaches Us About Nuclear War

From The Day After to Threads, fiction has long reflected our nuclear fears. Today, Daenerys Targaryen’s flying dragons stand in for B-52 bombers armed with thermonuclear bombs and the ashen corpses of Lannister guards remind us of Hiroshima. This week on War College, nuclear weapons expert Timothy Westmyer talks us through the nuclear metaphors in Game of Thrones. Westmyer is a nuclear security expert with CRDF Global and the host of the Super Critical Podcast—a show that explores pop...

Duration: 00:39:32

The Man Putin Hates For Shooting Down Fake News

The impunity of some of the world’s most frightening men is under threat from people stereotyped as geeks in basements around the world. In the 21st century, well-informed and observant social media addicts have extraordinary powers. Eliot Higgins started watching and reporting on war from the comfort of his living room in 2012. Five years later, he’s using his skills to help the International Criminal Court in The Hague to prosecute war criminals. It’s been a strange journey. This week...

Duration: 00:35:17

ICYMI: How American Soldiers Became Lawyers With Guns

More than 11,000 U.S. soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan right now. U.S. President Donald Trump plans to send 4,000 more. Military advisers are overseeing the war against the Islamic State and American military equipment and expertise helped retake Mosul. Drones launch from bases in Africa and the Middle East to conduct targeted killings against high value targets from Djibouti to Pakistan. U.S. Special Operations Forces operate across the globe in various capacities. Most of these...

Duration: 00:36:02

This Is How Republics Fall

The Weimar Republic was doomed from the start. World War I left Germany in a precarious position. The Treaty of Versailles ended outright aggression but it also left the German economy crippled and saddled its people with a government they never quite believed in. Worse, it stipulated that Germany take full responsibility for the most devastating war in human history. This week on War College, Jason Fields--the show’s co-creator and digital editor at the Holocaust Museum--returns to walk...

Duration: 00:26:36

Erik Prince’s terrible plan for Afghanistan

The United State's war in Afghanistan drags on with no end in sight. Worse, the current administration doesn’t have a clear vision of how it wants to proceed in the country. With all options on the table, private military contractor and entrepreneur Erik Prince - the founder of Blackwater - has gone on a lobbying tour around the U.S. pitching his own plan. Prince’s vision for Afghanistan calls for a viceroy to take over the country, drive out the Taliban and exploit the country’s natural...

Duration: 00:51:12

Why China won’t stop North Korea

As tensions grow between the U.S. and North Korea, onlookers have increasingly called on China to intervene. Which makes sense. Beijing is Pyongyang’s biggest trade partner and the two countries have a relationship that stretches back to World War II. But just because China is North Korea’s closest ally doesn’t mean China has control. According to Chinese history expert Adam Cathcart, China’s relationship with the DPRK is complicated. Cathcart lectures about China and Chinese history at...

Duration: 00:35:51

ICYMI: The case for leaving Afghanistan

After thousands of American lives, literally billions of dollars and more than 15 years, the U.S. can’t seem to quit its longest war in Afghanistan. With no end in sight, no word on strategy from the White House and the NATO-backed leader calling for more troops to defend against the Taliban, it might be time to cut and run. Few know this as well as journalist and author Douglas Wissing. He’s spent a lot of time in Afghanistan, written two books on the subject and embedded with U.S. troops...

Duration: 00:26:54

Growing up CIA

Despite some close calls, the United States and Russia never fought in a full-scale conflict during the Cold War. The fear of nuclear Armageddon loomed for decades but never occurred. The world avoided the devastation thanks to the efforts of politicians, spies and soldiers. If not for some special and unexpected relationships across the Iron Curtain, the world may look very different today. This week on War College, author Eva Dillon talks us through her new book, 'Spies in the Family,'...

Duration: 00:29:23

Here’s why China built that military base in Africa

China’s military made international news in early July when it announced the opening of its first overseas military base in Djibouti, a small country in the Horn of Africa. China says the base is simply a logistics building, poised to protect the country’s interests in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. It’s an interesting location for a military instillation considering the American military base just four miles away. This week on War College, retired Green Beret Derek Gannon walks us...

Duration: 00:32:17

Sex and sensibility in the U.S. military

In 2013, the White House ordered the Pentagon to open combat roles to women and gave the military a three year deadline. As women take on more roles in the U.S. military, both on the frontlines and in leadership, the Pentagon must face an issue it’s long ignored – relations between men and women. Tailhook and the Marines United Scandal reveal a military culture that can be at odds with women and their roles alongside men. But the complications don’t end there. This week on War College,...

Duration: 00:22:13

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