WHAT WENT WRONG IN AFGHANISTAN: A PRIMER

Two weeks ago we released a podcast episode featuring Larry Goodson sharing his thoughts on what the future holds beyond Afghanistan. This week Larry is back with Thomas Johnson sharing thoughts on how we got here in the first place with regards to Afghanistan. Both of these middle east experts have the necessary experience in the region to take a complicated problem and break it down into component failures that have spanned decades and multiple administrations and commanders. They provide a ten point explanation of the decisions and failures that have led the world to the present day situation. It’s a terrific primer and reminder that gets past the finger pointing and posturing dominating the news cycle and social media. And it’s a great starting point in the necessary process that is the after action analysis that now must begin.

A STORYTELLER’S TALE

Storytelling is as old as humankind. Long before there was the written word, humans told their stories through spoken word, songs and drawings. It was how we passed on our history, our culture and our shared experiences. We’ve progressed technologically from the original cave drawings and humanity finds new ways everyday to use technology to tell our stories. A BETTER PEACE welcomes Sasha Maggio to the virtual studio to share her medium of choice, Twitter, where she is telling the stories of the U.S. Army. Sasha joins our Editor-in-Chief, Jacqueline Whitt, to discuss how she uses the long thread format to relay the history of the Army in a way that is enjoyable, engaging and sometimes amusing to an audience that may not have been previously interested.

TRANSCRIPT: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/21-013-A-STORYTELLERS-TALE-Transcript.pdf

PANDEMICS AND THE ARMY: WEIGHING THE RISKS

COVID infection rates are once again increasing around the world. As this article is published many military installations across the country are increasing their Health Protection Condition (HPCON) levels to Bravo. Sources indicate that an announcement is expected from the SECDEF today, 6 Aug 2021, making COVID vaccinations mandatory for active duty military members. President Biden has already made it mandatory for federal workers to present proof of vaccination or comply with mandatory masking and testing. With these changes happening throughout the national defense community it’s worth looking back once again to see how the Army has handled pandemics in the past. Sanders Marble, Senior Historian at the Army Medical Department Center of History & Heritage, looks back through time at the Army’s response to multiple pandemics. He highlights the difficult decisions the military has had to make balancing medical risks, force protection and the need to accomplish the mission.

GENERAL HISTORY: H.R. McMASTER (ON WRITING)

A BETTER PEACE welcomes H.R. McMaster, retired Lieutenant General, former National Security Adviser, and accomplished author. On today’s episode he joins our own Michael Neiberg to discuss his writing process and research techniques as he wrote Dereliction of Duty and his newest book Battlegrounds. The conversation takes them on a tour of McMaster’s time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he transitioned from operational armored cavalry officer to PhD candidate. They share stories of their times studying with some of the greatest minds and mentors in the field of history and how that served him throughout his career.

THE GANDER AND THE GOOSE: WOMEN AND SELECTIVE SERVICE REGISTRATION

The United States has employed the conscription of military service members as far back as the Revolutionary War and as recently as the Vietnam War. What most people now know as the draft or Selective Service came into existence in 1940 via the Selective Training and Service Act. The first peacetime draft in the United States, it required men 21-36 (18-65 once the U.S. entered WWII) to register with local draft boards. Though women have served in the U.S. military for many years, and more recently in combat, they have never been subject to the draft. A BETTER PEACE welcomes back Kara Dixon Vuic to discuss her study of the topic and the recent decision of the Biden administration to move the discussion out of the Supreme Court and into Congress. She joins our Editor-in-Chief, Jacqueline Whitt, in the virtual studio as they discuss the history behind women’s exclusion from the draft. They examine the legal arguments, social and ethical norms involved, as well as some of the strange alliances of recent years as the conversation continues.

SLAM-FEST: A DISCUSSION OF S.L.A. MARSHALL’S WORKS – PART 2

It all started with a Twitter thread. Matthew Ford set his trap with a few sly comments about the ever controversial S.L.A. Marshall (SLAM) and three intrepid historians couldn’t help themselves but to jump into the fray. Listen now to part 2 with Matthew, Robert Engen, Rob Thompson and our DUSTY SHELVES editor Tom Bruscino. The four of them debate the merits and pitfalls of SLAM’s works, the different approaches they each use in their research, the role of rhetoric in military change and just a general ribbing back and forth between historians and journalists.

SLAM-FEST: A DISCUSSION OF S.L.A. MARSHALL’S WORKS – PART 1

It all started with a Twitter thread. Matthew Ford set his trap with a few sly comments about the ever controversial S.L.A. Marshall (SLAM) and three intrepid historians couldn’t help themselves but to jump into the fray. The result is a 2-part podcast with Matthew, Robert Engen, Rob Thompson and our DUSTY SHELVES editor Tom Bruscino. The four of them debate the merits and pitfalls of SLAM’s works, the different approaches they each use in their research, the role of rhetoric in military change and just a general ribbing back and forth between historians and journalists.

FORESHADOW IN THE PACIFIC: EXERCISING JOINT CAPES IN AN ERA OF AUSTERITY (DUSTY SHELVES)

The circumstances for both exercises centered on an imagined invasion and occupation of Oahu, including the naval base at Pearl Harbor and surrounding Army airfields, by an enemy coalition dubbed “Black” forces. In February 1932, the Army and Navy conducted concurrent training exercises, Grand Joint Exercise No. 4 and Fleet Problem XIII, respectively. These exercises, […]

THE SOUL OF BATTLE: DEMOCRACIES AT WAR (DUSTY SHELVES)

The DUSTY SHELVES series welcomes Mitchell Klingenberg to dust off Victor Davis Hanson’s The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny. Klingenberg examines Hanson’s analysis of the human personalities of Epaminondas of Thebes, William T. Sherman, and George S. Patton. Looking at the nature and character of war through the actions of these three leaders, Hanson illustrates the imperative of a nation to exercise moral authority through armed conflict when confronted with evil.

USE WARGAMING TO SHARPEN THE TACTICAL EDGE

Although educational wargaming has become increasingly prevalent in professional military education, the employment of game-based learning remains underdeveloped and under-utilized within the operating forces. Sebastian Bae and Paul Kearney are back to take a look at the educational history and benefits of wargaming. This WARGAMING ROOM entry examines how the Joint Force can overcome its challenges of growing and maintaining educational wargaming at the tactical edge.

URGENT: PUT THIS IN YOUR PURSE (DUSTY SHELVES)

In October 1962, during what become known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Navy evacuated nearly 3000 dependents from its base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in less than five hours. The hastily written yet elegant instructions given to those dependents – mostly the wives of Officers and Sailors station there – is the stuff of stories. WAR ROOM welcomes J. Overton to the DUSTY SHELVES series to examine the instruction and the evacuation procedure it enabled.

WHEN A GENERAL WRITES FOR THE GENERALIST (ON WRITING)

A BETTER PEACE welcomes authors General Sir Rupert Smith and Ilana Bet-El to the virtual studio to talk about the ultimate goal of being understood as authors. Smith and Bet-El are co-authors of The Utility of Force now available in a second edition. They join our own Michael Neiberg to discuss their collaborative process and the different strengths and attributes they each bring to the effort. He is a retired British Army officer with a wealth of experience in matters of war and diplomacy culminating as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. She is a strategic adviser, writer and historian with experience at the UN as well as advisory work around the world. Together they compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses to produce a book that is readable by academic, specialist and generalist alike.

Editor’s Note: We apologize for the intermittent sound quality of our guests. We had technical difficulties with the equipment, but we feel the intent of the conversation remains intact and is well worth the distractions.

A LABORATORY FOR MILITARY PROFESSIONALS (WARGAMING ROOM)

A BETTER PEACE welcomes back Ken Gilliam for another installment of the WARGAMING ROOM. In this episode Ken sits down with Doug Winton, the chair of the Department of Military Strategy, Planning and Operations (DMSPO) at the U.S. Army War College. Ken and Doug discuss War College games like JOINT OVERMATCH and MDO 1943. They […]

UNDERSTANDING A DIFFERENT PEOPLE: THE OKINAWAN IDENTITY

When planning for interactions with foreign countries, whether in peace or in war, it can be easy for military planners to be lulled into the false security of the homogeneity of a culture or race or nationality. Many would argue that was exactly what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq in the last two decades. But […]

THE MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: ALEXANDRA RICHIE (ON WRITING)

A BETTER PEACE welcomes Alexandra Richie, internationally acclaimed and award-winning writer and historian, and one of the world’s foremost experts on World War II in Europe. Richie joined Michael Neiberg to discuss her studies and books on both German history as viewed from Berlin, and the Warsaw Uprising. Their conversation covered how she first started writing and how her study of classical music years earlier aided her mindset and method of writing. The interview took place at the new U.S. National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

TRANSCRIPT: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/19-198-THE-MORE-BEAUTIFUL-QUESTION-ALEXANDRA-RICHIE-ON-WRITING-Transcript.pdf

WHOSE HISTORY? WHOSE HERITAGE? MEMORY AND MEMORIALS IN THE ARMED FORCES

I would venture to say that there are a lot of black troops that understand what those names mean and just have chosen not to take it up as an issue. Bragg, Benning and Hood are names that are universally known throughout the Army and most of the Department of Defense. They are some of […]

THE U.S. ARMY IN THE 20TH CENTURY: AN INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN LINN (ON WRITING)

I think in a lot of ways our job…is to move the dialog out of the Pentagon and into the field. A BETTER PEACE welcomes Brian Linn, renowned student and historian of the U.S. Army as an institution. Linn joins Michael Neiberg in the studio to discuss how he began his work first looking at the […]

THAT NEVER HAPPENED: A WATER COOLER DISCUSSION ABOUT MOVIES

If he didn’t do that, he should have. If you’ve ever spent any time with historians you know that they are the worst people to watch a movie with. Custer never said that, Roosevelt didn’t jump up from his wheelchair, there was no grass on that battlefield in 1917. A BETTER PEACE gathered three of […]

DENNIS SHOWALTER: IN MEMORIAM

Dennis Showalter In Memoriam In the waning days of 2019, word passed among military historians quickly: one of the giants in the field, Dr. Dennis Showalter, had died. Almost immediately, memories and tributes and reminiscences began to appear. The WAR ROOM editorial team reached out to some of those influenced by Dennis Showalter, personally and […]

LESSONS LEARNED THE HARD WAY: THE EVOLUTION OF THE BRITISH LIGHT INFANTRY

It’s not that Dundas was opposed to the use of light infantry he thought it was, the pejorative term was, ‘it’s very American’   A BETTER PEACE welcomes Dr. Huw Davies of King’s College London. Huw joins WAR ROOM Editor-In-Chief Jacqueline Whitt to trace the development of Great Britain’s Light Infantry. It’s easy to call […]