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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

ALL RAILS RUN THROUGH TSAVO

You’ve got to read the fine print. If you’re a heavily indebted, slightly underdeveloped nation and China knocks on your door with a loan that seems to good to be true you might want to hold off on signing the paperwork. That’s exactly what happened to resource rich Kenya except they signed when the PRC made the offer. WAR ROOM welcomes David Tillman to take a look at Chinese funded railways in Kenya. As the country faces down a $50 billion debt that comes due in 2024, it runs the real risk of losing the Mombasa Port to Chinese investors. David explains how this is all part of the Belt Road Initiative, the core element of China’s “100-Year Plan” and what it means to U.S. national power.

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.

INDIA: THE PRAGMATIC BALLISTIC MISSILE PARTNER

India’s partnerships throughout the last six decades have swung from East to West to suit the developmental needs of the nation’s nuclear program. It has capitalized on regional conflicts, its strategic location and a bipolar world to gain support, training and funding for its indigenous missile programs. WAR ROOM welcomes back Andrew Narloch as he takes a look at India’s path to nuclear powerhouse and a leader in manufacturing space-based technologies. He explains how the U.S. must maintain a close partnership while voicing opposition to India’s missile programs.

THE GRAND STRATEGY OF CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ

WAR ROOM welcomes Francis Miyata to demonstrate that Clausewitz provides an implicit definition of grand strategy in his magnum opus, On War. Francis argues that the definition is found not in his theory of war but extrapolated from his theory of the state, which is the bearer of multiple means of political intercourse, including war. He examines how the definition integrates all the tools of statecraft into a seamless whole, which today more than ever is an imperative of strategizing amidst the conditions of contemporary global politics.

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.