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.

THE GRIT AND GROWTH MINDSET

Adversity and resilience are incredibly relevant topics in light of what’s going on in the world today. People around the world are facing challenges and adversity that they’ve never seen before and are seeking new ways to deal with it. A BETTER PEACE welcomes Jennifer Alessio to share her story of a potentially career-ending injury and how she found a path forward to not only survive but thrive. Jennifer joins podcast editor Ron Granieri in the virtual studio to discuss the grit and growth mindset. Based in the works of Dr. Angela Duckworth and Dr. Carol Dweck, Jennifer discusses how the mindset can benefit innovation, talent management, soldier development and even recruiting in the U.S. Army.

THE INFORMATION APOCALYPSE PART X: THE ROAD AHEAD

 “Great leaders have a vision of the future that does not yet exist, and an ability to communicate that vision. When we put words to the world we imagine, we can inspire others to join us in creating a brighter future.” Simon Sinek The future is replete with opportunities for managing the pace of change, responding to change, […]

THE INTERIM NSS: A TOUCHSTONE

Mandated by public law, the National Security Strategy (NSS) is the report that the President of the United States sends to Congress to communicate the administration’s strategy and vision regarding national security. It is to be submitted to Congress in a classified format no later than 150 days after the date on which a new President takes office. But Congress isn’t the only audience of the NSS as there is typically an unclassified summary that communicates the administration’s intent to the military, the citizenry, and friends and foes alike. Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Whitt is in the virtual studio with podcast editor Ron Granieri to discuss the Interim NSS that the Biden administration released on 3 Mar 2021. Ron and Jacqueline take a look at what’s different in this document and perhaps more importantly what is similar to previous administration’s NSS reports.

REFRAMING THE MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN

If the western world truly seeks victory in Afghanistan there needs to be a better understanding of what that victory looks like. The ongoing peace talks with the Taliban are a necessary first step. And a wide look at history over many conflicts reveals that western nations have succeeded in the past at reaching political solutions through similar negotiations, patience, and international cooperation. WAR ROOM welcomes Tom Spahr to examine why a U.S. military exit from Afghanistan in May 2021, or shortly thereafter, is not feasible. He predicts getting to an acceptable agreement with the Taliban will take years, if not decades, and political and military leaders should plan for the long haul.

NATIONAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE: THE BENS REPORT

Business Executives for National Security (BENS) a nonprofit comprised of senior business and industry executives commissioned a study and produced a report it refers to as “A CALL TO ACTION” to strengthen U.S. emergency response for sustained, widespread events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. BENS President and CEO, Joseph Votel, joins our own Editor-in-Chief in the virtual studio to discuss the findings of the report. Their conversation reviews the recommendations of federal, state and local government responsibilities and relations and the need for a national strategy for emergency response. Not surprisingly, as in any large scale operation, the need for clear communication and information sharing is highlighted as one of the crucial factors for success.

THE ARMY’S ROBERT E. LEE PROBLEM

On 5 February, 2021, newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed military leaders to lead a one-day stand-down within the next 60 days to address extremism within the nation’s armed forces. That same afternoon our Editor-In Chief, Jacqueline Whitt sat down with Ty Seidule in the virtual studio to record this episode. Seidule, a prominent figure in the conversation about extremism, has long fought against the veneration of Robert E. Lee and the Confederate cause in the Army, specifically at the United States Military Academy. His 2015 video on Prager University, “Was the Civil War About Slavery?” has been viewed over 34 million times. And his newest book Robert E. Lee and Me is drawing both praise and anger. Their discussion ranges from his childhood in the south to his time at West Point as the Head of the Department of History, and what he’s been doing since his retirement as a brigadier general in 2020.

WHAT NORMS ARE AT STAKE WITH A RETIRED GENERAL AS SECDEF?

The fourth offering in this brief series is this article by Marybeth P. Ulrich and Noah C. Fisher. They examine the erosion of norms that has occurred with the nomination and confirmation of retired Army General Lloyd Austin as the Secretary of Defense. Austin’s confirmation is the third time that a waiver for the “cooling off” period has been granted, but perhaps more importantly the second in four years. Ulrich and Fisher appraise what impact this waiver may have and remind us that “norms that are not enforced cease to be norms, having lost the shared understanding that underpin them.” 

EVERY SOLDIER HAS A PERSONAL STORY

A BETTER PEACE welcomes Ann Meredith to discuss her experience as a female officer in the U.S. Army. She joins WAR ROOM podcast editor Ron Granieri in the virtual studio to discuss what her career has looked like as a woman, a mother and a wife in the Military Police corps. Ann recounts long separations, supportive units, honest mentors and the biases and discriminations that many women must overcome in any branch of the military. 

THE ROLE OF RETIRED SENIOR OFFICERS

This third offering in this brief series is by Jeff Baker. In it he examines the role of the retired senior military leader, generals and admirals, in the political sphere. Their participation in politics, even out of uniform, has long been considered taboo. Perhaps it’s time to re-look the benefits of decades of training, education and experience possessed by these skilled and seasoned leaders.

PRAETORIAN PROPENSITIES

The second offering in this brief series is this article by Todd Schmidt. He claims that the terms “apolitical” and “non-partisan” are often confused and misused. The reality of an apolitical, non-partisan military does not exist. Since the creation of the country the military of the United States has been intensely political, and many senior military professionals have been crucial members of political society. And thoughtful actions must occur to ensure the healthy rebalance of civil-military relations.

SHOULD THE MILITARY LEADERSHIP SPEAK UP ON PARTISAN POLITICS?

The first offering in this brief series is this article by Jovanna Davidovic. She posits that the simple litmus test of not appearing partisan as a way of determining whether or not to speak out as a military member is problematic. Rather, the content of the discussion is more important: racism is wrong, genocide is wrong, torture is wrong—regardless of the political actor or party professing the idea.

LESSONS FROM SYRIA’S LOW-PROFILE NARRATIVE WAR

These accounts and portraits exemplify a conflict fought parallel to, but distinct from, the fight for physical territory… As the threat of disinformation enters the public consciousness, the scale of the problem already confounds the effective implementation of counterstrategies. There is evidence of incremental progress within the ongoing information arms race against high-profile, government-led disinformation […]

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.

THE FUTURE OF THE UNITED STATES’ FRIENDS AND FOES

As the United States sees its dominant position in the world diminish, and rising powers such as China ascend, it will find that allies will be indispensable in the coming years. The United States’ global power has been in steady decline over the past 20 years. The United States must, therefore, reevaluate its global presence […]

SENIOR LEADER BEHAVIOR: WHAT DIFFERENCES MATTER?

In 2004, the Commanding General, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) directed the USAWC to conduct a study to inform the future development of Army Division Commanders In a March 2019 War Room article, we offered observations and recommendations for senior leader development using data collected for over a decade on the leader effectiveness […]

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: RADICALS IN THE RANKS

UPDATED: 1450/15 Dec 2020 A BETTER PEACE welcomes Robert Payne to discuss the radicalization of U.S. military members, particularly in the Army. Payne joins podcast editor Ron Granieri in the virtual studio to examine how individual members of the Army are radicalized and what the service and law enforcement need to do to defeat the […]

LIKE YOUR BRAIN HAS JUST GONE TO THE GYM (WARGAMING ROOM)

A BETTER PEACE welcomes Chris Dougherty and Becca Wasser from The Gaming Lab at the Center for New American Security (CNAS). Chris and Becca join host Ken Gilliam in our special series the WARGAMING ROOM to discuss the efforts and contributions of CNAS to the gaming world. The three discuss how strategic gaming is used […]

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: WHY THE ALLIES WON (DUSTY SHELVES)

With such overwhelming numbers, how could the Allies not win? The numbers in World War II are striking. The Allies, who in many ways had not prepared properly for conflict, produced just over 20,000 aircraft in 1939, a number already almost double that of Germany and Japan. By 1943, the Allies manufactured about three and […]

AFTER 2020, WHAT’S NEXT? A WHITEBOARD

Managing homeland security challenges requires practitioners to engage in a discursive space that regularly increases in complexity and scope. For this Whiteboard we reached out to several skilled practitioners in collaboration with the Homeland Security Experts Group (HSEG) with the following prompt: What do you envision as the greatest challenges facing homeland security and domestic […]