THREE QUESTIONS TO FIX ARMY MANDATORY TRAINING

Money, time, and resources are not the only casualties of an organization drowning in mandatory administrative training. I want to verify our military personnel policies also support and enhance warfighting and force lethality.  – Secretary of Defense James Mattis We must make difficult choices and prioritize what is most important to field a lethal, resilient, […]

DISRUPTING PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES THAT SUPPORT TERRORIST ACTS

The same psychological processes that allow lying and cheating to be commonplace can also work for terrorism. Thank you, Chief. All I’m saying is…that until we understand that our enemies are also human beings…we will never defeat them. Yes, they are bad guys, but that is what they do, not who they are.  ~Maxwell Smart […]

BELIEVING IS SEEING: ON STRATEGIC IMAGINATION

American national security strategy is generally unimaginative. It is too often constrained by a rigid, unimaginative pursuit of optimal objectives… It needs the constructive, creative impulse that characterizes great strategy. On May 7, 1864, the battle-weary soldiers of the Army of the Potomac awoke expecting to retreat north (yet again) from their nemeses – the […]

HOW DO GREAT STRATEGIC LEADERS DEVELOP OTHERS?

How do you really make a difference to inspire people around you? WAR ROOM welcomes special guest Major General John S. Kem, the 51st Commandant of the U.S. Army War College to discuss leader development. Who does it well, and why is it so hard to do in the Army? What principles can leaders adopt […]

HOPE IS NOT ‘A’ STRATEGY: IT’S THE ONLY STRATEGY

Hope … is at the core of the most successful components of American grand strategy over the last seventy-plus years. “Hope is not a strategy” is the ultimate morsel of accepted certainty, an effective way to shut down an argument with someone who dares utter the word “hope” in a national security strategy debate. When […]

PERSPECTIVES ON STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP — GEN. ROBIN RAND, U.S. AIR FORCE GLOBAL STRIKE COMMAND

I tell people today that history makes you smarter, but your heritage makes you prouder. The U.S. Army War College routinely hosts senior military and civilian leaders who come to meet and work with faculty and students on matters of national security, strategic leadership, and professional military education. WAR ROOM is pleased to welcome Gen […]

BUILDING THE CONTINENTAL ARMY: VON STEUBEN’S “BLUE BOOK” (DUSTY SHELVES)

[VON STEUBEN] WAS THE RIGHT MAN AT THE RIGHT PLACE AND THE RIGHT TIME. In the next installment of in our Dusty Shelves series, “Building the Continental Army: Von Steuben’s ‘Blue Book’,” Jack Giblin and Jacqueline E. Whitt tell the story behind the Continental Army’s first training manual. Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was a […]

GEORGE WASHINGTON: THE LESSONS OF FAILURE (GREAT CAPTAINS)

Washington [will] realize early on that he is playing a losing hand and has to change how he plays that hand. This inaugural episode of the Great Captains series focuses on George Washington from his early career aspirations as a colonel in the British (!) Army to leadership of the American Revolution. Throughout, Washington’s ability […]

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 […]

WHY IS THE VIETNAM WAR EXPERIENCE STILL RELEVANT?

The 2017 release of a television series on Vietnam War from director Ken Burns has renewed interest and controversy surrounding the purpose of the war and its effects. In this podcast, military historian, retired U.S. Army War College professor, and Vietnam veteran Len Fullenkamp presents his perspective on why the U.S. became involved. He also discusses the social and political change that happened at the same time, and how institutions such as education and political structures changed as a result. What does the Vietnam experience teach us about matters of national security policy today? What should military leaders learn from Vietnam so they may better render best military advice to their civilian overseers?

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.

CAN SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES DO ‘EVERYTHING’? DISPELLING THE MYTH

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.

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.

THINKING CRITICALLY ABOUT CRITICAL THINKING

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.

TOXIC LEADERSHIP OR TOUGH LOVE: DOES THE U.S. MILITARY KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?

The military censures toxic leadership where it is found, but it can be difficult to recognize such misconduct, unlike more actionable offenses that are easier to identify. What constitutes good or bad leadership often lies open to interpretation. Is the U.S. military confusing toxic leadership with tough love? Does it know the difference between abusive […]

WHAT TO DO ABOUT RECURRING SENIOR LEADER BEHAVIOR ISSUES?

any instance of senior officer misconduct is unacceptable. We should therefore err on the side of caution, and assume that the Army has a problem. So what should we do about it? On 22 June, the Washington Post reported the demotion of an Army Major General to Brigadier General, based on the results of an […]

COMFORTABLY CONVERSATIONAL: PUBLIC SPEAKING FOR PROS

If you doubt your command of the information that you are presenting, you are halfway defeated before you even start. Hello? Hello? Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me Is there anyone at home? – Pink Floyd, “Comfortably Numb,” The Wall (1979) When effective military leaders consider the reasons […]

WHY WAR COLLEGES?

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.

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF ARMY MENTORING

Participants in workplace mentoring relationships must be wary of bad practices, and should be aware of how such practices can harm both mentors and protégés. I’m going to mentor the <bleep> out of you. You’ve probably never heard those exact words come out of a mentor’s mouth, but you’ve probably had professional relationships that felt […]

SEX, GENDER, & THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE MILITARY’S CULTURAL CONVERSATION

There remain deep and lingering anxieties about diversity… Military and civilian leaders should confront this cultural pathology head on. In April 2017, U.S. Army War College faculty and students attended a mandatory training session on the recent Department of Defense policy regarding open service by transgender people. I watched an auditorium full of students and […]