War Room welcomes special guest Martin Lacourt, the senior armed forces delegate to the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) regional delegation to the US and Canada. In addition to discussing the role the ICRC plays in monitoring conflict and protecting human rights and dignity during war, M. Lacourt also discusses the relationship that the ICRC has had with the U.S. military, a relationship that has grown since the turn of the 21st Century. He discusses the urgency of keeping the laws of warfare current and relevant in today’s dynamic and increasingly dangerous world, and offers advice for strategic leaders on how to properly engage with international actors. War Room associate editor Ryan McCannell moderates.
Josh Kennedy and Buck Haberichter the popular but wrong perception that special operations forces are capable of resolving all national security dilemmas without the need for conventional forces. The elite selection process, specialized training, and long history of success are what make special operations forces ‘special.’ But, as the podcasters explain, they are neither superhuman nor endowed with magical powers. Yet they are often treated that way, viewed as a simple and cheap solution to the thorny problems of the world. Listen in as the podcasters discuss the effects this misperception has on strategic decisionmaking, resourcing, and civil-military relations. Jacqueline E. Whitt moderates.
In this War Room podcast, Ambassador Alexander M. Laskaris, current civilian deputy to the commander, reflects on the uniqueness of the command and growing importance of interagency cooperation, a hallmark of AFRICOM’s first decade. Along with reflections on strategic leadership, Ambassador Laskaris discusses the challenges of AFRICOM’s identity between being a ‘hard power’ warfighting command and a ‘soft power’ organization focused on preventing war and building security capacity. War Room associate editor Ryan McCannell hosts.
In this fourth episode of War Room’s special series on Great Strategists, Patrick Bratton explores Alfred Thayer Mahan’s The Influence of Seapower upon History and its relevance to the 21st century. Writing at the turn of the 20th century, Mahan was explicitly thinking about the role of sea power for the United States as it emerged onto the world stage, and his ideas, though very influential at the time, have fallen somewhat out of favor in more recent thinking about sea power. Mahan’s emphasis on big fleets and decisive battles have led some to dismiss Mahan as hopelessly out of date, but Mahan was also writing about broader political questions about the maritime domain. And in the 21st century, rising powers, particularly in Asia, are reading Mahan quite seriously, so it remains a text worth reading and exploring seriously. War Room podcast editor Jacqueline E. Whitt moderates.
In this War Room podcast, War Room Editor-in-Chief Andrew Hill sits down with Professor of Behavioral Sciences Steve Gerras to discuss critical thinking, a key skill that senior leaders should develop. Gerras argues that it is, indeed, possible to improve one’s ability to think with training and practice—even while recognizing that doing so can be counterintuitive, unappreciated, and difficult. Gerras and Hill discuss the problems of confirmation bias, fake news, and clarified concern, and how we can learn to combat these problems by seeking out disconfirming information, using Wikipedia and the Internet to our advantage, and thinking more deeply about problem design and construction.
In this third episode of War Room’s special series on Great Strategists, Larry Goodson presents the writings of Kautilya, who is lesser known to military audiences that Clausewitz or Sun Tzu. As counsel to a young emporer in 4th century BCE India, Kautilya developed and published the earliest known works explaining the international relations philosophy known today as realism. ‘Conquer or be conquered’ and ‘the friend of my enemy is my enemy’ are among the teachings originating from the Arthashastra, a collection of 14 books that covered matters of both military and civilian governance.
In “Sun Tzu and the Art of War,” Paul Kan explains the impacts of Sun Tzu’s famed treatise on war. Although little is known about Sun Tzu, The Art of War has been applied to many contemporary contexts from sports to relationships. Military educators often align this book with unconventional war in contrast to the supposed conventional war teachings of Carl von Clausewitz. The podcasts explore the impacts of the book and compare it to those of other Chinese philosophies of the time.
This podcast is the first episode of a War Room special series featuring some of history’s greatest strategists. Featured is Carl von Clausewitz, famed for his book On War (Vom Kriege) which is a staple of professional military education in the U.S. and many partner nations. This is remarkable given that the original text of On War is an unfinished manuscript published posthumously by his wife Marie. Clausewitz scholar Vanya Eftimova Bellinger and War Room podcast editor Jacqueline Whitt explore the book’s major theses and implications they present for modern scholars and practitioners of strategy.
In this War Room podcast, “Time as a Dimension of Strategy,” Joe Brooks and Doug Douds take a critical look at concepts that may too often be taken for granted in strategy – time and space. Drawing from philosophy, political science, and culture, the podcasters discuss a range of perspective on how time and space have defined and measured throughout history. How do our understandings of time shape our strategy? And how do we develop strategies that shape an environment occupied by those whose perspectives on time differ?
In this War Room Podcast, “Why War Colleges?” Andrew A. Hill interviews the 50th Commandant of the U.S. Army College, U.S. Army Major General Bill Rapp to discuss the history, roles, and responsibilities of war colleges to develop future strategic leaders, both military and civilian, and to develop ideas that address current and future needs of the defense enterprise. They explore why the Army’s performance during the Spanish-American War necessitated the Army War College’s founding, and how it has evolved in the century since.
Don Snider reflects on his experiences in the drafting of the 1988 National Security Strategy (NSS) and what purpose that document serves. With Matt Scalia interviewing, Don describes the political context within which the NSS was written and the five audiences that the NSS must serve. He also discusses the challenges facing new Administrations in building political consensus and forging strategies that reflect the preferred agenda of the President.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the “One Belt, One Road” strategy as a national effort ostensibly to improve the economic integration and regional security of the Eurasian landmass. Also known as the “Belt and Road Initiative,” the strategy emphasizes development projects within underdeveloped east European and Asian nations. However, critics question both the motivations of the Chinese and the potentially low returns on investment. So why are the Chinese pursuing this? Join the podcast as Rakesh Kapoor and Paul Kan explore this question.
The defense acquisition system has been the subject of much controversy and criticism. From the “Sisyphus Paradox” to more recent studies on defense acquisition reform, critics have complained about the process of acquisition being too slow and cumbersome. But far less attention has been given to the strategy of acquisition. How should defense leaders make investment choices that address shorter-term needs while preserving long-term opportunities? Mark Kappelmann and Andrew Hill provide analysis and offer ideas and recommendations in this War Room Podcast.
Watch Colonel Mark Kappelmann in a panel discussion on military innovation at the Center for New American Security.
In this War Room Podcast, Jamaican Defense Force Colonel Jaimie Ogilvie discusses with U.S. Army War College faculty member Dr. Paul Kan the challenges of foreign fighters operating within the Caribbean, the “third border” of the U.S. as named by former President G. W. Bush. By foreign fighters, Colonel Ogilvie refers to the David Malet’s definition from his book Foreign Fighters: Transnational Identity in Civic Conflicts, “a non-citizen of a state experiencing civil conflict or arrives from another state to join a civil insurgency.” This definition differs from more common usage which treats foreign fighters as a type of terrorist.
They explore the broad range of reasons why individuals become foreign fighters; the impact of foreign fighters on the economically fragile states in the Caribbean, particularly on tourism; and the potential expansion of violent extremist organizations into the region. They also discuss why the U.S. should be concerned about the presence and activities of foreign fighters so close to its homeland, and that the U.S. should assist its Caribbean partners as many lack the resources to deal with the problem themselves.
Colonel Ogilvie is Jamaican’s first officer to attend the U.S. Army War College, and the podcast is based on his strategy research project in satisfaction of resident program requirements. Each year, the U.S. Army War College resident class includes over 75 international officers from 70 different partner nations all over the globe.