43 episodes

The podcast of the Warfighting Society, Controversy and Clarity aims to generate critical discussion and honest debate on U.S. military matters.

To support the Warfighting Society, please click on "Support" below or visit our Patreon page at www.patreon.com/thewarfightingsociety

And if you have questions, comments, or questions, please don't hesitate to send them to thewarfightingsociety@gmail.com.
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Controversy & Clarity Damien O'Connell

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 22 Ratings

The podcast of the Warfighting Society, Controversy and Clarity aims to generate critical discussion and honest debate on U.S. military matters.

To support the Warfighting Society, please click on "Support" below or visit our Patreon page at www.patreon.com/thewarfightingsociety

And if you have questions, comments, or questions, please don't hesitate to send them to thewarfightingsociety@gmail.com.
Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/damien-oconnell/support

    #12--Seth Folsom

    #12--Seth Folsom

    Liner Notes

    *The battalion commanders Folsom served under and how they shaped the way he views and practices battalion command

    *What makes an ideal battalion commander

    *What makes a battalion commander from hell

    *The single most important thing battalion commanders do or should do for their unit

    *Where the battalion commander’s place should be on the battlefield

    *Characteristics of the best and worst battalions

    *Common mistakes new battalion commanders make

    *Folsom’s experience as a company commander in Operation Iraqi Freedom I and how that affected the way he’s led his battalions

    *Folsom’s reaction to being selected for infantry battalion command

    *Some of the challenges, leadership and otherwise, inherent in commanding an infantry battalion

    *What excited and concerned Folsom most about being a battalion commander

    *The steps Folsom took to prepare for battalion command

    *The battalion commander’s relationship to the unit’s staff sections

    *Folsom’s expectations for his principal leaders and staff officers

    *The one thing Folsom wish he had known about his first battalion before he assumed command of it

    *What Folsom learned from going on numerous patrols with his squads in Sangin, Afghanistan

    *Folsom’s thoughts for commanders on units that take consistent or heavy casualties

    *How Folsom’s experience with 3/7 influenced the way he commanded Task Force Lion

    *Some of the challenges present in Folsom’s current command

    *His thoughts on what battalion command will look like in the future, particularly in the context of Force Design 2030


    The Highway War: A Marine Company Commander in Iraq by Seth Folsom

    In the Gray Area: A Marine Advisor Team at War by Seth Folsom

    Where Youth and Laughter Go: With the “Cutting Edge” in Afghanistan by Seth Folsom


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    • 2 hr 13 min
    #11--Scott Helminski

    #11--Scott Helminski

    In this episode, we discuss:

    *Scott’s enlisted experience and its effects on how he views on leadership, command, and warfighting

    *Scott’s experience as an artilleryman, his understanding of fire support, and how these things may influence how he commands his battalion

    *Scott’s two deployments with Second Battalion, Eighth Marines, and how these experiences have influenced him as a leader

    *His time at the School of Infantry-East and the similarities and differences between serving in a battalion in the operating forces and one in the supporting establishment

    *Scott’s two deployments with Second Battalion, Second Marines, and what he learned from them

    *His time at TBS and how it shaped him as an officer, leader, and teacher

    *Scott’s views on decision-forcing cases

    *His time as a battalion XO and what it taught him about command and leadership

    *Scott’s advice to future XOs and battalion commanders about working together effectively

    *The challenges that XOs and battalion commanders face while on a UDP and some ideas on handling them

    *His time as the division secretary of the 2nd Marine Division

    *His experiences as the division’s current operations officer

    *Being the XO of the 6th Marine Regiment

    *The ideal and worst kinds of battalion commanders

    *The single most important thing battalion commanders do for their unit

    *How teaching and leading are complimentary

    *Scott’s PME plans for his battalion

    *The steps Scott has taken to prepare for battalion command

    *How Scott will use the history of his battalion to help with unit training, education, esprit de corps, identity, and cohesion

    *What excites Scott most about being a battalion commander and what concerns him most

    *The atmosphere and culture Scott wants to create in the battalion

    *The characteristics of the best and worst battalions

    *Scott’s take on battalion exercises like MCCREs and ITXs

    *Common mistakes new battalion commanders, and commanders more generally, make

    *How battalion command in the future will look, particularly in the context of Force Design 2030


    Infantry in Battle by the Infantry Journal

    Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet

    Grit by Angela Duckworth

    Mindset by Carol Dweck

    Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink

    Noise by Joseph McCormack


    I said Scott’s 2nd deployment to Iraq with 2/8 was in 2006. It was in 2007.


    Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/damien-oconnell/support

    • 1 hr 26 min
    #10--Richard Harrison

    #10--Richard Harrison

    In this episode, we discuss:

    *How the Germans and Soviets organized their forces in and near Ukraine on the eve of Operation Barbarossa and the principal senior commanders on each side

    *Why the Southwestern Front put up a stouter resistance against Army Group South than did its counterparts against Army Groups North and Center

    *The Uman encirclement and what this defeat meant for the Soviets

    *The likelihood of a Soviet soldier captured in 1941 surviving until 1945

    *The 3-month siege of the city of Odessa

    *The capture of Crimea

    *Where the Soviets thought the main German blow would land in the summer of 1942 and why

    *The Second Battle of Kharkov

    *The role the Dneper River plays in the fighting in Ukraine in 1941 and 1943

    *Where the war in Ukraine stood by the end of 1943

    *The Cherkassy Pocket

    *Hube’s Wandering Pocket

    *Stalin's role in military operations and how this changed over time

    *Stalin’s working relationships with his generals and how these evolved

    *Aspects of the war in Ukraine in WWII that Richard would like to research

    *Two things Richard wants U.S. Marines and soldiers to know about Ukraine in World War II

    *Some parallels between the fighting in Ukraine in WWII and the war there now

    *Richard's assessment of the Russian and Ukrainian militaries’ performance so far

    *How likely we are to see the war escalate to involve NATO forces


    The Russian Way of War: Operational Art, 1904-1940 by Richard Harrison

    Architect of Soviet Victory in World War II: The Life and Theories of G.S. Isserson by Richard Harrison

    The Soviet Army High Commands in War and Peace, 1941–1992 by Richard Harrison

    When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler by David Glantz and Jonathan House


    Near the beginning of the interview, I ask Richard about the “German” siege of Odessa in 1941. In fact, the Romanians besieged and captured the city, with some assistance from the Germans.


    Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/damien-oconnell/support

    • 1 hr 30 min
    #9--Prit Buttar

    #9--Prit Buttar

    In this episode, we discuss:

    *Why Hitler wanted Ukraine

    *How the average Ukrainian viewed the Soviets and Germans on the eve of Operation Barbarossa and how these perceptions changed over the course of the war

    *How fighting in Ukraine went for the Soviets during Barbarossa

    *The First Battle of Kiev and the largest battle of encirclement and capture of prisoners in the history of warfare

    *The Enormity of the war against the Soviet Union

    *The German massacre of Jews at Babi Yar

    *The effect of ethnic cleansing of Jews and other populations on the Germans’ war effort

    *The first Battle of Kharkov

    *Some of the standout German and Soviet senior military leaders in the fighting for Ukraine in 1941

    *The Axis allied forces that fought in Ukraine in Barbarossa and beyond

    *The Soviet offensives at and near Stalingrad

    *The subsequent Axis race to the Dnieper and Soviet pursuit

    *Field Marshall Erich von Manstein’s defense of the Don River in February 1943 and his famous so-called “Backhand Blow” against the Soviets

    *The accuracy of Manstein’s description of the Donets Campaign in his memoirs

    *The accuracy of the description of the fighting in Ukraine in German General Herman Balck’s book, Order from Chaos

    *The accuracy of Soviet memoirs of the war in Ukraine

    *The logistics situation for both the Axis and Soviet forces in Ukraine in the winter of 1943

    *What the Germans should have done with their forces in Ukraine in 1944

    *The Soviet recapture of the Crimea in 1944

    *The operations concerning the capture of the city of Lviv in 1944

    *The encirclement and defeat of German troops at the city of Brody

    *The roles that Hitler and Stalin had in operation in Ukraine and how these changed over time

    *How well the Soviets and Germans learned from their experiences in Ukraine and how these experiences affected the Soviet way of war after WW II

    *How does the war on other fronts—in North Africa, Italy, France—affected the fighting in Ukraine

    *What aspects of the war in Ukraine Prit thinks deserves more attention or research

    *The Germans’ use of Auftragstaktik or mission-type orders in Ukraine and the lack thereof of this approach in the Soviet forces

    *The toll the war in Ukraine took on the civilian population there

    *What books Prit recommends to Marines and soldiers wanting to learn more about operations in Ukraine in WWII

    *What’s the one thing you’d want Marines and soldiers to take away about the war in Ukraine in World War II?

    *What links, connections, or parallels can you draw from the fighting in Ukraine in WWII to the war we’re seeing there now, whether that be militarily, economically, culturally, or politically?

    *What’s your assessment of the Russian army’s performance in Ukraine so far? What’s surprised you? What hasn’t? What about the Ukrainians’ performance?


    On a Knife's Edge: The Ukraine, November 1942–March 1943 by Prit Buttar

    Retribution: The Soviet Reconquest of Central Ukraine, 1943 by Prit Buttar

    The Reckoning: The Defeat of Army Group South, 1944 by Prit Buttar

    Lost Victories: The War Memoirs of Hitler's Most Brilliant by Erich von Manstein

    Order in Chaos: The Memoirs of General of Panzer Troops by Hermann Balck

    Battle for the Ukraine: The Korsun-Shevchenkovskii Operation Translated and Edited by David Glantz and Harold Orenstein

    Where the Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea 1941–44 by Robert Forczyk


    Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/damien-oconnell/support

    • 2 hr 9 min
    #8--Gerald Nosich

    #8--Gerald Nosich

    In this episode, we discuss:

    *What is critical thinking and isn’t

    *Some of the most common misconceptions of critical thinking

    *The relationship between critical and creative thinking

    *How critical thinking relates to divergent and convergent thinking

    *The relationship between critical thinking, logic, and problem solving

    *Gerald’s take on the Dunning-Kruger Effect and whether critical thinking can serve as an antidote to it

    *Whether some people seem more predisposed to thinking critically than others

    *If there are ways we can predispose young men and women to think critically

    *Gerald’s thoughts on the relationship between critical thinking and Socratic questioning

    *His first encounter with the concept of critical thinking

    *How to support people interested in thinking critically but are not yet ready to adopt it fully

    *How Gerald’s conception of critical thinking has changed over the years

    *The Paul-Elder model of critical thinking and why Gerald thinks it's useful

    *Why all the elements of reasoning are equal

    *The differences between assumptions and inferences (conclusions) and examples of each


    *Some potential neglected areas of the Paul-Elder model

    *The SEE-I method

    *Gerald’s preferred methods for introducing adult students and educators to critical thinking

    *How critical thinking applies to military matters

    *What critical thinking looks like in action—especially in high stakes situations

    *Some of the unique challenges to thinking critically in the military

    *The role of time in critical thinking

    *The tension between the questioning and investigative nature of critical thinking and the military’s desire for its members to show "instant and willing obedience to orders”

    *The idea that critical thinking is inherently subversive in an organization like the military

    *Situations where critical thinking may not be preferable or desirable

    *How we can apply critical thinking to understanding America's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan

    *Gerald’s thoughts on the use of chess to promote critical thinking

    *What he tells people who are turned off by the major time commitment and effort it takes to become skilled in critical thinking

    *How we can measure critical thinking

    *What fundamental and powerful concepts (FPCs) are and how they apply to military schooling and training

    *How one goes about determining what the FPCs of a domain or discipline are

    *How one might measure a student’s grasp or application of a course’s FPCs

    *Gerald’s personal practices of addressing blind spots, knowledge gaps, and biases (cognitive or otherwise)

    *His thoughts on Daniel Kahneman’s System 1 and System 2 thinking

    *How critical thinking applies to highly technical fields

    *The thorny topic of role models for critical thinking

    *Gerald’s wish to see a guide on thinking critically in a military context

    *The role of emotion in critical thinking

    *Gerald’s new book


    The Foundation for Critical Thinking: www.criticalthinking.org

    The Standards and Elements of Critical Thinking: https://www.criticalthinking.org/ctmodel/logic-model.php

    Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum by Gerald Nosich

    Critical Writing: A Guide to Writing a Paper Using the Concepts and Processes of Critical Thinking by Gerald Nosich


    Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/damien-oconnell/support

    • 2 hr 10 min
    #7--Michael Peznola

    #7--Michael Peznola

    In this episode, we discuss:

    *Col Peznola’s education and training as a young officer

    *Col Peznola’s take on what “blocking and tackling” and “the basics” means in a tactical sense

    *His experience attending the Army’s Cavalry Leaders Course and what he learned from being around soldiers

    *When Col Peznola first heard about what would later be termed maneuver warfare

    *His time as an instructor at The Basic School (TBS)

    *Who the “maneuver warfare instigators” in the TBS bullpen were

    *How the curriculum at TBS had changed since Col Peznola had been a student there

    *How Peznola approached teaching lieutenants in the field

    *The central role that Lieutenant Colonel Ray Cole played in the shift to maneuver warfare at TBS

    *Captain Paul Kennedy’s use of BB guns in force on force training and how this inspired Peznola to create the “Zen Patrol”

    *What it was like facilitating the Zen Patrol

    *How patrolling seemed to “stick” more with students when taught this way

    *The role of the debrief and the instructor in the Zen Patrol

    *How Peznola’s experiences at TBS fostered within him an inquisitive mindset

    *Why Peznola thinks the Marine Corps needs to change its manpower system and truly reward Marines who innovate

    *What it was like having 2ndLt Brendan McBreen as a student

    *Peznola’s thoughts on command and control

    *What it was like sitting through John Boyd’s briefings and interacting with Boyd

    *What it was like having now-Major General Roger Turner as a student in Peznola’s platoon at TBS

    *Peznola’s interactions with John Kelly and John Allen at TBS and the impact Kelly and Allen had on the effort to infuse maneuver warfare into the curricula at TBS and IOC

    *The dearth of communication that occurs today between TBS and IOC instructors and how that wasn’t the case in Peznola’s time

    *What TBS and IOC would look like if Peznola were king

    *Peznola’s experiences at 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion

    *Peznola’s deployment with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and his time in Somalia

    *His time serving in manpower at Headquarters Marine Corps

    *His time as the general officer monitor officer

    *Why some Marines leaders resisted maneuver warfare

    *Peznola’s reaction to the publication of Warfighting

    *His thoughts on and experiences with Bill Lind

    *On whether the Marine Corps practiced maneuver warfare in its invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan

    *What maneuver warfare looks like in garrison

    *Whether the Marine Corps’ current model of recruit training helps or hinders new Marines from executing maneuver warfare

    *Peznola’s thoughts on SOI-West’s inclusion of Chess in its Infantry Marine Course

    *His time as the commanding officer of the Marine Special Operations Advisor Group

    *His criticism of special operations in Afghanistan

    *How the US created the Afghan forces in its own image

    *Peznola’s time as the chief of staff of a special operations task force in Afghanistan

    *His thoughts on America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan

    *His thoughts on Force 2030

    *His take on general officer and joint professional military education

    *Who Ike Skelton was and why the US military needs another person like him

    *If Col Peznola could change one thing about the Marine Corps

    *What excites him most about the future direction of the Marine Corps


    To Lose a Battle by Alistar Horne

    Organic Design for Command and Control by John Boyd


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    • 2 hr 12 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
22 Ratings

22 Ratings

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Elizabeth and Robert Bjork

I just finished listen to your first episode of 2022 with Elizabeth and Robert Bjork. It was outstanding. Love the work you are doing and I have been following your podcast for a while. Great topics and you do a fantastic job interviewing.

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For Military and Non Military Professionals Alike

The Podcast offers absolute must listens for military professionals across the spectrum and I’d argue a high degree of value for any professional in any field with relevance to some of the topics. From personal internal reflection, group discussion, and all the way to class/instruction worthy topics, Damien’s approach to exposing information and perspective to the public through long form questioning of relevant quests, is unmatched in the field.

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This podcast is an indispensable must for company grade officers. A hall of fame worthy list of guests and a host that continuously guides the conversation with thought provoking questions.

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