GREAT CAPTAINS: COMMAND & THOSE WHO DID IT BEST

Greatness … should be judged by some combination of leaders’ political impact; strategic, operational, or tactical brilliance; and innovation and effects on subsequent military practice. What makes a military leader great? WAR ROOM’s new podcast series, Great Captains, takes up this old question. Moderated by Dr. Andrew Hill, Editor-in-Chief of WAR ROOM and Chair of […]

RECEIPT: BOMB, ATOMIC, 1 EACH (DUSTY SHELVES)

This is a hand receipt unlike any other. … Imagine instead of signing for an office key or a computer, … you’ve just taken responsibility for the first atomic weapon. Military historian Con Crane tells the story behind an unusual hand receipt, showing the transfer of responsibility of the components of the ‘Little Boy’ atomic […]

NSC-68: THE POLICY DOCUMENT THAT SHAPED THE COLD WAR (DUSTY SHELVES)

[PRESIDENT TRUMAN] WAS INTERESTED IN TAKING A LOOK AT AMERICA’S POSITION IN THE WORLD. In 1950, competition between the U.S. and its Allies and the Soviet Union was growing in intensity. Concerned over debt and seeming fragility of post-World War II peace, President Truman felt was time to re-examine “our objectives in peace and war […]

GROWING AFRICAN PEACEKEEPING CAPACITY

War Room welcomes our distinguished guest, Brigadier General Emmaneul Kotia, Deputy Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Ghana. BG Kotia stopped by while visiting War Colleges in the U.S. to discuss opportunities for further collaboration in peace operations and training. In this podcast, BG Kotia explains the roles and offerings from the KAIPTC and addresses the complexity of peace operations in Africa, such as the high number of disparate factions usually involved in conflicts and the challenge of brokering peace agreements so the peacekeepers can operate under clear guidance and rules of engagements. Brian Foster from the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute moderates.

RIDGWAY’S MEMO: “WHY WE ARE HERE” (DUSTY SHELVES)

Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway assumed command of Eighth U.S. Army after it had been driven south in the early phases of the Korean War. Faced with a broken and dispirited force, Ridgway had to turn the situation around quickly. His memorandum of January 1951, “Why We Are Here,” was a message to the troops about what was at stake, and embodied his belief in the cause and faith in the fighting spirit of the force. In six months, a rejuvenated Eighth U.S. Army had driven the Chinese north of the 38th parallel. It is one of the great stories of U.S. military history.

This inaugural episode of the Dusty Shelves series, Army historian Con Crane and War Room podcast editor Jacqueline E. Whitt present the memorandum and the story of Lieutenant General Ridgway. The memorandum, displayed and transcribed below, comes from the collection of Ridgway’s papers available at the Army Heritage and Education Center.

THE “DUSTY SHELVES SERIES”: BRINGING MILITARY HISTORY TO LIFE

Remembering the past is hard, not just because memories fade but because capturing the past in a meaningful, relevant, and intellectually honest way is difficult, complex, and too often unrewarded. LISTEN TO THE INAUGURAL EPISODE ON RIDGWAY’S 1951 MEMO HERE. The great philosopher and writer George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past […]

AT THE NEXUS OF DIPLOMACY, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEFENSE — AFRICOM AT 10 YEARS (PART 3)

To its critics, the 3Ds [of diplomacy, development, and defense] provide an illusion of depth and vitality that hides the blurry, overlapping reality of civil-military working relationships – just like the 3-D glasses worn at the movies. Last month, having donned specially filtered glasses, millions of Americans emerged from the Great American Eclipse utterly spellbound, […]

ON BEING A ‘DIFFERENT’ KIND OF COMMAND — AFRICOM AT 10 YEARS (PART 2)

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.

FORMING U.S. AFRICA COMMAND: A STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION SUCCESS — AFRICOM AT 10 YEARS (PART 1)

Success stories [IN STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION] do exist. The formation of the U.S. Army’s African Command (AFRICOM) was … a case of turning the communication environment from open hostility to general favorability in two short years. It is very easy to bash the U.S. government and the U.S. military for strategic communication failures. From bad messaging […]

MAHAN AND SEA POWER — GREAT STRATEGISTS (EPISODE 4)

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.

KAUTILYA, THE ARTHASHASTRA, AND ANCIENT REALISM — GREAT STRATEGISTS (EPISODE 3)

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.

SUN TZU AND THE ART OF WAR — GREAT STRATEGISTS (EPISODE 2)

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.

ON CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ – GREAT STRATEGISTS (EPISODE 1)

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.