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.

WE’RE SO META: PODCASTING ABOUT PODCASTING

Name a topic or an interest and you can probably find a podcast about it. With over 2 million podcasts and more than 48 million episodes somebody is talking about something you want or need to hear. Today we’re talking about our little corner of the podosphere. A BETTER PEACE welcomes Mary Foster, Abram Trosky, and Jacqueline Whitt to the virtual studio to talk about how they incorporate podcasts and podcasting in the classroom. They join podcast editor Ron Granieri to discuss how the medium can be used to share information in support of educational objectives as well as its utility in developing better communicators.

TRANSCRIPT: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/21-081-WERE-SO-META-PODCASTING-ABOUT-PODCASTING-Transcript.pdf

FINDING OUR FUNDAMENTAL HUMANITY

“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” – Lao Tzu

As this episode is released much of the United States is recovering from the wrath of Hurricane Ida. At the center of most of the destruction is water. It overflowed from banks, surged towards shores, destroyed property, knocked out power and swept loved ones away. In its wake, in the midst of a staggering overabundance of water one of the most sought after resources is fresh drinking water.

It’s no exaggeration to say that water has been a motivating force in Sarah Petrin’s personal and professional life since the day she was born. She joins Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Whitt to explain why the resource has dominated so much of her life and is the basis for her book Bring Rain: Helping Humanity in Crisis.

TRANSCRIPT: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/20-194a-FINDING-OUR-FUNDAMENTAL-HUMANITY-Transcript.pdf

ADDENDUM: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/20-194a-AN-ADDENDUM-ON-HUMAN-SECURITY-AND-AFGHANISTAN.pdf

HUMAN SECURITY: PEOPLE NOT GOVERNMENTS

Regardless of whether conflict occurs between state or non-state actors, is conventional or irregular there is one constant: there is always a population of citizens that suffers in one way or another. Warfare often focuses on the enemy’s ability to fight, mobilize, resupply or defend. Sarah Petrin is in the virtual studio today and she wants to focus the discussion on Human Security. She joins our Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Whitt to discuss the protection of civilians; women, peace and security; sexual exploitation and abuse; human rights; and peace operations. She wants to make sure these topics aren’t forgotten in the complex world of operations that the DoD must engage in. Her white paper Human Security in U.S. Military Operations: A Primer for DOD is the basis of the conversation.

TRANSCRIPT: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/20-194b-HUMAN-SECURITY-PEOPLE-NOT-GOVERNMENTS-Transcript.pdf

WHITE PAPER: https://pksoi.armywarcollege.edu/2021/07/14/human-security-in-u-s-military-operations-a-primer-for-dod/

IT’S TIME TO REFORM THE U.S. VULNERABILITIES EQUITIES PROCESS

The intelligence community has always suffered under a perplexing dilemma. Should an organization act on intelligence and save the day, but possibly expose the source, the methods or even worse the individual by which the info was obtained, or should it suffer the immediate threat in order to preserve the information stream? Is there some far greater threat in the future that might be detected and prevented or maybe never seen until it’s too late? To determine when to act on cyber intelligence the U.S. government follows an internal executive branch policy called the Vulnerabilities Equities Policy and Process, more commonly known as the VEP. WAR ROOM welcomes Amy Gaudion to make the case that the time is right to make necessary changes in VEP to safeguard all aspects of U.S. cybersecurity.

IRREGULAR WARFARE IS GREAT POWER COMPETITION – PART 2

WAR ROOM welcomes back Michael Ferguson as he continues to look at the future of irregular warfare (IW) and special operations forces (SOF) in great power competition. Ferguson ties together the specific attributes of IW as it plays out in the realm of political warfare and the avoidance of full blown warfare. He makes the case for greater incorporation of IW back into the next round of National Security and National Defense Strategies. This is the second part of a two part article.

IRREGULAR WARFARE IS GREAT POWER COMPETITION – PART 1

Despite the situation that is unfolding in Afghanistan, the National Security community is preparing for future great power conflicts. WAR ROOM welcomes Michael Ferguson as he looks at what that means for irregular warfare (IW) and special operations forces (SOF). Ferguson notes that “For the first time since 2001, violent extremist organizations in the Middle East are not the key focus of the U.S. defense enterprise.” And he insists that IW must remain a core competency of the American military to maintain a forward presence and shape the environment. This is part one of a two part article.

READINESS EFFECTS ON THE U.S. ARMY OCONUS DURING COVID-19

EDITOR’S NOTE: The current temporary theme we are using only credits a single author. This article was written by Gregory Gharst and Jose Velazquez How has U.S. Army leadership ensured overseas readiness during this pandemic? Since January 2020 and as of 6 August 2021, approximately one person (0.73) in the U.S. has died of COVID-19 […]

DOS 101: FOREIGN POLICY ADVISORS

To many people the U.S. Department of State (DOS) is as foreign as the countries in which our embassies are placed. Fortunately, we here at A BETTER PEACE know some people, and on this episode we welcome Andrea Gastaldo to share her experiences as the Director of the Department of State’s Political-Military Bureau Office of State-Defense Integration (PM/SDI). That particular office may not be familiar to most military folks but the Foreign Policy Advisor or POLAD program that Andrea is responsible for probably rings a bell. She joins our own Associate Editor Amanda Cronkhite in the next installment of this multi-part series to discuss the details of a program that probably has more direct contact with the military and combatant command leaderships than any other office in DOS. Andrea has served as a POLAD to the Commanding General of U.S. Army North and has experience around the world in such places as South Africa, Belarus and New Zealand. Her current position finds her recruiting and mentoring future POLADs and that experience makes her the perfect guest to conduct the next installment of what we’re calling DOS 101.

TRANSCRIPT: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/21-094-DOS-101-FOREIGN-POLICY-ADVISORS-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.

CONSERVATIVE VS. BOLD THINKING IN SPACEPOWER THEORY?

Two main approaches are emerging in spacepower theorizing. A conservative approach acknowledges space as a distinct physical domain, but mostly treats it conceptually as an extension of the air domain. A bolder approach projects spacepower out to moon and eventually beyond, and envisions decisive strategic advantage to whomever can dominate space. WAR ROOM welcomes Leon Perkowski to offer a way forward. He suggests both should be examined closely and with the humility learned from early airpower and nuclear deterrence theorizing lest we drive toward pitfalls we could have anticipated.

MILLENARIAN GROUPS AND THE WINNING PARADOX

Conflict hopping and social media are two phrases that don’t seem like they belong together in the same sentence. But Jesse Humpal says those are two of the major factors behind the longevity of modern day Millenarian groups, or organizations that seek to violently transform global society. Violent actors the likes of Red Faction Army or Khmer Rouge were often supported or useful to enemy states, but faded away before the 2000’s. Today’s Millenarian groups use the connectivity of the Internet and a free agent approach to extend their lifespans.

THE ERA OF CONSTANT COMPETITION – PURPOSE AND PRINCIPLES

Competition. In the midst of the 2020 Summer Olympics it seems a very relevant topic. But the rules and goals of the Olympic games are well spelled out, as opposed to competition in the national security realm. WAR ROOM welcomes Tom Harper and Jim Armstrong to examine what competition between the West and Russia and China looks like. They argue that the U.S. and U.K. need to update the principles of war to adequately adapt to the changing character of war and continuous competition.

WHICH WAR WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

The relationship between a nation and its military is an oft discussed topic in government buildings, professional military education (PME) classrooms, the media and ideally among the citizens of the nation. Hopefully the topic never fades from conversations because it is the basis of a healthy civ-mil relationship in the United States; one in which the military is subordinate to the elected civilian authority. WAR ROOM welcomes George Fust as he considers decisions made by the civilian leadership and the impact on the health of the military force and Americans’ appetite for future conflicts. George reminds the reader that obedience of the military is rooted in its trust of the Republic’s judgment.

STUDYING SOFT POWER AT THE WAR COLLEGE (EISENHOWER SERIES)

In September 2019 we introduced you to the Eisenhower Series College Program (ESCP). Though we are approaching life as we remember it pre-COVID, travel limitations significantly limited the ESCP from visiting colleges and universities, interacting with audiences often unfamiliar with members of the U.S. Military. It is our hope at WAR ROOM to bring you a glimpse of what some of those presentations might have looked like via A BETTER PEACE.

In the second episode of academic year 2021 our podcast editor Ron Granieri is joined by War College students and ESCP members Ron Hawkins, Abdul Sami and Kate Sanborn. This time the conversation turns to the concept of soft power versus hard power. What do three War College students have to say about tackling the topic of soft power at the School of Strategic Landpower? Quite a bit. Each with a career’s worth of experience in the Department of State, the Pakistan Army and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, respectively, they have many examples where China has outpaced the United States in recent years. They each offer a hopeful view of how the United States has and must continue to engage nations around the world with diplomacy and all the tools in the soft power tool bag before ever resorting to the use of military force.

Transcript: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/21-087-STUDYING-SOFT-POWER-AT-THE-WAR-COLLEGE-EISENHOWER-SERIES-Transcript.pdf

DOS 101: DECODING THE STATE DEPARTMENT PART 2

To many people the U.S. Department of State (DOS) is as foreign as the countries in which our embassies are placed. Fortunately, we here at A BETTER PEACE know some people, and on this episode we welcome back Alex Avé Lallemant to share his experiences as a career Foreign Service Officer. For this second installment in the series he once again joins our own Associate Editor Amanda Cronkhite to discuss the ins and outs of the State Department. Currently the Consular Section Chief in Harare, Zimbabwe, Alex has served overseas in every one of the State Department’s geographic bureaus, including multiple tours in Afghanistan. That experience makes him the perfect guest to conduct what we’re calling DOS 101.
Transcript – https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/21-076-DOS-101-DECODING-THE-STATE-DEPARTMENT-PART-2-Transcript.pdf

DOS 101: DECODING THE STATE DEPARTMENT

To many people the U.S. Department of State (DOS) is as foreign as the countries in which our embassies are placed. Fortunately, we here at A BETTER PEACE know some people, and on this episode we welcome Alex Avé Lallemant to share his experiences as a career Foreign Service Officer. He joins our own Associate Editor Amanda Cronkhite in this multi-part series to discuss the ins and outs of the State Department. Currently the Consular Section Chief in Harare, Zimbabwe, Alex has served overseas in every one of the State Department’s geographic bureaus, including multiple tours in Afghanistan. That experience makes him the perfect guest to conduct what we’re calling DOS 101.
Transcript – https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/21-061-DOS-101-DECODING-THE-STATE-DEPARTMENT-Transcript-2.pdf

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.

RETHINKING THE QUAD 2.0 – A PARTNERSHIP OF DEMOCRACIES

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which comprises of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, was formed due to the common concerns of a rising Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific. However, the partnership of democracies has been primarily focused on military objectives to confront China’s assertiveness in the region. WAR ROOM welcomes back Tony Palocaren to explain why the varying levels of economic interdependence between the members of the Quad and China, and the economic opportunity cost of provoking China will be dire and it could lead to the failure of the partnership. To succeed, he posits the Quad must focus on international development objectives to first shore up the partnership’s international credibility while challenging China’s soft power ambitions in the region.

THE DEEP FAKES ARE COMING

As if watching the news or social media wasn’t already complicated enough, now you have to deal with deep fakes. The stuff of information nightmares, deep fakes map the face of a celebrity, a political or military leader to another person’s head. The result is a video of the leader/celebrity enacting the facial expressions, behaviors, mouth and eye movement of the target individual, and even worse saying whatever the faker desires. And the deep fakes are getting tougher to spot. WAR ROOM welcomes Matthew Fecteau as he considers the implications for national security, information operations and propaganda in the modern age as deep fakes become even more sophisticated. He looks at the near and long term actions the United States has to take to harness the technology as well as guard against it.