show episodes
 
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 Spear is a podcast from the Modern War Institute at West Point. It aims to explore the combat experience, with each episode featuring a guest who tells a detailed and personal story, describing the events and exploring topics like decision-making under stress and what it feels like to be in combat.
 
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show series
 
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 ep…
 
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…
 
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 e…
 
A few episodes ago, John Spencer spoke to retired Colonel Leonard DeFrancisci about his Marine Corps civil affairs detachment's role during the Second Battle of Fallujah. He joins the Urban Warfare Project Podcast once again to continue the conversation, this time describing the massive coalition effort to rebuild the city after intense fighting an…
 
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-selli…
 
In 2007, United States Marine Captain Kyleanne Hunter was flying escort missions above Marines operating in western Iraq. When the Marines on the ground discovered a massive weapons cache—and a large group of armed insurgents protecting it—she found herself in a situation that challenged her as a pilot and changed the way she and her fellow Marines…
 
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, …
 
During the recent outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, many of the Israeli strikes targeted Hamas tunnels. That raises a range of important questions. What advantages do subterranean environments lend to combatants? What military challenges do tunnels pose? More broadly, why is underground warfare occurring increasingly frequently…
 
In the spring of 2003, Lt. Col. Dave Rittgers commanded a Special Forces team deploying to Afghanistan. As soon as the team arrived in country, its members were told to begin planning immediately for a what is known as a special reconnaissance mission. They did so, but after being dropped off by helicopter and working their way to a concealed locat…
 
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…
 
In this episode, Canadian Army Major Jayson Geroux joins to discuss the 1943 Battle of Ortona. Sometimes called the “Italian Stalingrad,” the battle took place in the town of Ortona, on Italy's Adriatic coast, during World War II. Maj. Geroux walks listeners through the battle, which pitted a Canadian infantry brigade against German paratroopers, a…
 
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 C…
 
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 gen…
 
In this episode of The Spear, MWI's John Amble is joined by Maj. Tyson Walsh. In 2013, during a deployment in Afghanistan, he found himself fighting hand to hand against an enemy combatant in an unexpected place: inside the heavily secured Bagram Airfield, the largest US and coalition base in the country. Listen as he tells one of the most intense …
 
In this episode, John Spencer speaks to retired Colonel Leonard DeFrancisci. In 2004, he was a civil affairs detachment commander for the Marine Corps' Regimental Combat Team 1 during the Second Battle of Fallujah, Iraq. He describes the role of civil affairs in the lead-up to that battle and the activities undertaken by civil affairs forces during…
 
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 e…
 
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 violen…
 
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 …
 
In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Major General Ross Coffman, director of Army Futures Command's Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team. He describes the team's objectives and the projects it has underway as it works toward a replacement for the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle—actually a family of manned and unmanned rob…
 
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 Army has three "dirt" combat training centers that are focused on training units at the brigade combat team level and below. A fourth, the Mission Command Training Program, is geared toward training higher echelons—Army divisions, corps, and component commands. In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Col. Shane Morgan, commander of the MCTP,…
 
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…
 
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…
 
In this episode, Maj. Jake Miraldi is joined by retired Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta. In 2010, he became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. Listen as he describes the 2007 mission in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, and the actions for which he received the award. Note: This episode was originally released in 2019.…
 
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 d…
 
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 war…
 
As a lieutenant, Maj. Jesse Lansford was deployed to Afghanistan. A Kiowa helicopter pilot assigned as an aviation platoon leader, he rarely found himself on foot outside the wire. But on one day his helicopter had to land. He spent a brief time on the ground, but it was enough for him to encounter an IED. He joins this episode of The Spear to tell…
 
In this episode Dr. Charles Knight joings John Spencer to discuss the Battle of Marawi. A senior lecturer in terrorism, asymmetric conflict, and urban operations at Charles Sturt University and a senior researcher at the University of New South Wales, Dr. Knight has researched and and written about the 2017 battle, in which the Philippine Army foug…
 
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 …
 
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