24 episodes

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

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Controversy & Clarity Damien O'Connell

    • Education
    • 4.9 • 13 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

    #10--John Schmitt

    #10--John Schmitt

    In this episode, we discuss

    -The emphasis (or lack thereof) placed on self-study, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving during John’s time as a junior officer

    -The four priorities of lieutenants when John served in the 2nd Marine Division

    -On then-Major General Al Gray making maneuver warfare the official doctrine of the division

    -The Marine Corps’ approach to warfighting before it adopted maneuver warfare

    -The influence that Captain W.L. Smith had on Lieutenant Schmitt

    -Some hypotheses on why maneuver warfare seems harder to practice in garrison

    -John’s experience with commercial wargaming before the Marine Corps

    -How wargames played a role in John’s eventual preference for tactical decision games (TDGs)

    -How John first got into TDGs

    -The origins of Enemy Over the Bridge, John’s first TDG and the first TDG of its kind published in the Marine Corps Gazette

    -How writing FMFM-1 Warfighting influenced John’s writing of TDGs

    -The experience of writing Enemy Over the Bridge

    -How TDGs can bring to light the concepts of maneuver warfare

    -The primary purpose of TDGs

    -The creation and activities of Marine Corps University’s TDG Group

    -How John and other member of THE saw themselves as maneuver warfare insurgents

    -John’s thoughts on common TDG pitfalls

    -How The MCU TDG Group came to the name “Tactical Decision Games”

    -Where John draws inspiration from when developing a TDG

    -Some of the more creative and unusual TDGs that John has created

    -John’s thoughts on using TDGs at formal schools

    -How John used TDGs as a Marine Officer Instructor with his Naval ROTC unit at the University of Illinois

    -John’s thoughts on the Marine Corps’ renewed emphasis on wargaming

    -The work that John’s been doing with online TDGs

    -What John’s ideal unit PME program would look like

    -How John first learned of maneuver warfare and what led him to contribute to it as Marine Corps doctrine

    -The two stories of John’s “audition” to write FMFM-1 Warfighting and General Al Gray’s signing of it

    -The Marines and military theorists who influenced John while he was writing Warfighting

    -Which of the FMFMs/MCDPs that John wrote is the most enduring and which of them most requires revision

    -The efforts to revise Warfighting under Generals Joe Dunford and Robert Neller

    -Why John thinks someone other than him should write the next version of Warfighting

    -What defeat mechanisms are

    -The recent critiques of Warfighting and John’s thoughts on them

    -How John might expose the youngest generation of Marines to Warfighting

    -Alternatives to the German school of maneuver warfare

    -John’s evaluation of the trends he’s seeing in the Department of Defense regarding war and warfighting

    Links

    Enemy Over the Bridge TDG by John Schmitt: https://mca-marines.org/blog/gazette/the-enemy-over-the-bridge/

    Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication-1 Warfighting: https://www.marines.mil/Portals/1/Publications/MCDP%201%20Warfighting.pdf

    "Tactical Decision Games in a Virtual Setting" by John B. Douglas: https://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/magazine/issues/2020/Winter/PDF/15_Douglas_TDG.pdf

    Errata

    *When discussing technical MOS’s and TDGs, I meant to say “weapon optics repair Marines”


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    • 2 hr 16 min
    #9B--James McDonough

    #9B--James McDonough

    In this episode, we discuss

    -The US Army’s individual replacement system in Vietnam

    -McDonough’s experience serving as the aide to the commanding general of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam

    -McDonough’s thoughts on how technology has extended senior leaders’ ability to overexert influence or command on small units

    -How McDonough’s Vietnam experiences shaped his approach to command

    -Some of the mistakes McDonough made as a platoon leader in Vietnam

    -The decision-forcing case The Farmer: its inspiration, development, and use with US Marines

    -What it was like to serve in the ‘Hollow Army’ after Vietnam

    -McDonough’s experience as a mechanized infantry company commander

    -McDonough’s time as an S-3 operations officer for an infantry battalion in South Korea

    -His experiences serving as the military assistant to General John Galvin, Supreme Allied Commander Europe

    -McDonough’s observations of the maneuver warfare debates in the Marine Corps

    -The value and pitfalls of studying German military history, especially the German forces of World War II

    -The tight rope that military and military-civilian professionals must walk when studying the forces of the Nazi Germany a nthe Southern Confederacy

    -The events leading to McDonough’s appointment as director of the School of Advanced Military Studies

    -The process of revising FM 100-5 Operations

    -The origin of the term “operations other than war”

    -What inspired the writing of McDonough’s second book, The Defense of Hill 781, and what today’s soldiers and Marines can learn from it in light of renewed focus on large-scale conventional combat operations

    -What lessons from Hill 781 might not apply to today’s battlefields

    -McDonough’s third book, The Limits of Glory

    -His experience standing up the brigade that would eventually get reflagged as the 173rd Airborne Brigade

    -What it was like leading that brigade through the genocide, Cholera epidemic, and civil war in Rwanda

    Links

    Platoon Leader by James McDonough: https://www.amazon.com/Platoon-Leader-Memoir-Command-Combat/dp/0891418008

    The Defense of Hill 781 by James McDonough: https://www.amazon.com/Defense-Hill-781-Allegory-Mechanized/dp/0891414754

    The Limits of Glory by James McDonough: https://www.amazon.com/Limits-Glory-Novel-Waterloo/dp/0891413847

    "American Army Doctrine for the Post- Cold War" by John L. Romjue: https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA317654.pdf

    'Facing the "What Now?'" Moment' by Damien O'Connell: https://mca-marines.org/wp-content/uploads/Facing-the-What-Now-Moment.pdf

    Errata

    -When discussing TBS's use of The Farmer DFC, I said they forced to students to either harm the farmer or risk certain death in the minefield. To be precise, TBS called for students "...to...[decide]...whether to threaten or do bodily harm to a local civilian in order to save the lives of their Marines (soldiers).” 

    -While discussing the bureaucratic differences between Colonel McDonough and Major General Wesley Clark at TRADOC, McDonough erroneously referred to himself as a 'one-star general,' though he meant to say, 'colonel.'


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    • 2 hr 44 min
    #9A--James McDonough

    #9A--James McDonough

    Note: This is part one of a two-part discussion. The conclusion will be released shortly.

    In this episode, we discuss

    -The Strategic Hamlet Program (SAP) in Vietnam and the role of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in that effort

    -How US platoon positions used in the SAP made enticing targets for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army

    -The layout of McDonough’s platoon position and the terrain surrounding it

    -McDonough’s assessment of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, as well as the South Vietnamese Regional Forces and Popular Forces

    -A particularly soul-shaking patrol that McDonough went on

    -The writing of Platoon Leader

    -The Viet Cong’s typical tactics, strengths, and weaknesses

    -McDonough’s biggest fight: October 6th 1970

    -The story of McDonough’s wounding

    -The Viet Cong’s technique of employing M-79 ‘barrages’

    -McDonough’s assessment of the small arms available to him and his men

    -A hair-raising interaction that McDonough had with one of his soldiers and an M-79 grenade launcher

    -McDonough’s relationship with Phil Nail, one of his radio operators

    -Killigan, arguably the best combat soldier McDonough ever saw

    -What it was like to lead a small unit with consistent attrition

    -McDonough’s advice for small unit leaders who may face high unit attrition in their units in combat

    -How well McDonough’s stateside tactical training lined up with his actual tactics in Vietnam

    -The value of “tactical cursing”

    Links

    Platoon Leader by James McDonough: https://www.amazon.com/Platoon-Leader-Memoir-Command-Combat/dp/0891418008

    The Defense of Hill 781 by James McDonough: https://www.amazon.com/Defense-Hill-781-Allegory-Mechanized/dp/0891414754

    The Limits of Glory by James McDonough: https://www.amazon.com/Limits-Glory-Novel-Waterloo/dp/0891413847

    This Kind of War T.R. Fehrenbach: https://www.amazon.com/This-Kind-War-Fiftieth-Anniversary/dp/1574883348


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    • 1 hr 44 min
    #8--Sebastian Bae

    #8--Sebastian Bae

    In this episode, we discuss

    -What drew Sebastian to the Marine Corps and the infantry in particular

    -The persistent public view of the Marine Corps as an all-infantry force

    -The future of the ‘Every Marine a Rifleman’ ethos

    -The wearing away of front lines and rear areas in modern-day warfare

    -What Sebastian’s Marine Corps boot camp experience was like

    -Sebastian’s thoughts on changing bootcamp

    -His experiences at the School of Infantry-East

    -What it was like serving as a reserve enlisted infantryman

    -The stigma against reserve Marines

    -Some things Sebastian wishes active-duty Marines understood about reservists

    -Sebastian’s pre-deployment training and preparations for Iraq

    -His experience of breaking the news to his mother of his impending deployment to Iraq

    -Sebastian’s deployment to Ramadi, Iraq

    -Sebastian’s interactions with the Iraqis

    -What he took away from the deployment

    -How Sebastian’s operational experiences have influenced how he designs, develops, and facilitates wargames

    -How good decision games pose dilemmas to participants

    -Sebastian’s words of advice to young Marine reservists and those interested in the reserves

    -How Sebastian got into wargaming

    -How he learned how to design and facilitate wargames

    -How Sebastian defines “wargame”

    -The differences between analytical and educational wargames

    -Sebastian’s thoughts on the educational utility of commercial wargames

    -The design “autopsies” Sebastian runs in his wargame design courses

    -Sebastian’s two “translation points” for wargames

    -How the wargame design process enriches the designer

    -Why Sebastian prefers digital wargames for personal use and analog games for professional purposes

    -What matrix games and operational decision games are

    -The differences and similarities between different kinds of decision games

    -Where wargames fail most

    -The most common barriers to getting people interested in wargaming

    -How Sebastian wound up teaching wargame design at Georgetown University

    -Some of the standout student games from the wargame design course

    -Where the historical settings for those games came from

    -What inspired Sebastian to create the Georgetown University Wargaming Society (GUWS)

    -What GUWS has been up to lately

    -GUWS’ collaborations with the Army War College, Naval War College, and other organizations

    -The value proposition of playing wargames for Marines

    -Sebastian’s thoughts on the most effective way to introduce Marines to wargaming

    -His wargaming work with the Marine Corps’ Command and Staff College and US Naval Academy

    -Sebastian’s work with the Wargaming Division at the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab

    -Sebastian’s thoughts on SOI-W’s incorporation of chess into the new Infantry Marine Course

    -Sebastian’s contribution to the Rand report, “Next Generation Wargaming for the Marine Corps”

    -The addendum Sebastian would write to the report to reflect the realities of COVID-19

    -Where Sebastian thinks the Marine Corps gets wargaming right

    -Where the Marine Corps could improve with wargaming

    -What Sebastian would do with wargames if he were Commandant of the Marine Corps for the day


    Links

    -Sebastian’s RAND profile page: https://www.rand.org/about/people/b/bae_sebastian_joon.html

    -Georgetown University Wargaming Society: https://www.guwargaming.org/

    -(RAND) Next-Generation Wargaming for the U.S. Marine Corps: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2227.html


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    • 2 hr 37 min
    #7B--Tim Barrick

    #7B--Tim Barrick

    (This is the conclusion to our interview with Colonel Barrick.)

    In this episode, we discuss

    -The work Barrick is doing with wargaming and force design at the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab

    -The differences between wargaming for education, wargaming for analysis, and wargaming for training

    -Assassin’s Mace, an operational wargame designed, developed, and used by the Warfighting Lab

    -How Assassin’s Mace is currently being used beyond the Warfighting Lab

    -Barrick’s favorite wargames

    -The differences between educational wargames, decision-forcing cases, and tactical decision games

    -The Marine Corps’ upcoming Wargaming Center and the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab’s possible relationship to it

    -The role the Wargaming Center might play in educating Marines

    -Potential ways the center could provide wargaming to the Fleet Marine Forces

    -The role that matrix and analog games may play at the Wargaming Center

    -Barrick’s concerns for the future of wargaming in the Marine Corps

    -The case for gamification for learning

    -How games can help learning

    -Barrick’s thoughts on the future of tanks in the Marine Corps

    -Why the Commandant of the Marine Corps cased the colors on his tank battalions

    -How tanks contribute to the Marine Corps’ combined arms capabilities

    -The challenges of creating a tank corps from scratch

    -The future of combined arms

    -The Marine Corps’ spotty record of institutionalizing experience

    -Common misperceptions that Marines have about tanks

    -Some of the creative ways Barrick has seen tanks employed

    -The decision to send Marine tanks to Afghanistan in 2010

    -The special capabilities added to Marine tanks deploying to Afghanistan

    -Barrick’s favorite tanks from World War II and the modern day

    -Barrick’s thoughts on the Russian T-14 Armata tank

    -Barrick’s thoughts on some historical tank commanders

    -The development of Soviet combat experience and skill in World War II

    -Barrick’s favorite armored warfare books

    Links

    Red Army by Ralph Peters: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Army-Ralph-Peters/dp/1451636695

    Defense of Hill 781 by James McDonough: https://www.amazon.com/Defense-Hill-781-Allegory-Mechanized/dp/0891414754

    Panzer Commander by Hans von Luck: https://www.amazon.com/Panzer-Commander-Memoirs-Colonel-Library/dp/0440208025

    Brazen Chariots by Robert Crisp: https://www.amazon.com/Brazen-Chariots-Robert-Crisp/dp/0393327124

    Panzer Battles F.W. von Mellenthin: https://www.amazon.com/Panzer-Battles-Major-General-von-Mellenthin/dp/1862274592

    The Heights of Courage by Avigdor Kahalani https://www.amazon.com/Heights-Courage-Tank-Leaders-Golan/dp/0275942694

    Errata

    *I misspoke when I called the SU 122 the "cat killer." The correct tank destroyer was the SU 152. It was known as the “beast killer” for its ability to knock out German Panther, Tiger, and King Tiger Tanks as well as the Jagdpanther, Jagdtiger and Elefant Tank Destroyers. For more see: https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/soviet/soviet_ISU-152.php 




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    • 2 hr 14 min
    #7A--Tim Barrick

    #7A--Tim Barrick

    Note: This is part one of a two-part interview with Col Barrick. The conclusion will be released shortly.

    In this episode, we discuss

    -Barrick’s early military training and educational experiences at the US Naval Academy, The Basic School, and the Army’s Armor Officer Basic Course

    -Barrick’s thoughts on the reaction course at Officer Candidate School

    -The sandtable tests that Barrick underwent at the Armor Officer Basic Course

    -Barrick’s experiences with FMFM 1 Warfighting and the Marine Corps Warfighting Skills Program as a company-grade officer

    -The degree to which Marines actually practice maneuver warfare

    -The role of trust and adaptation in maneuver warfare

    -Barrick’s experiences as a staff officer with Combined Joint Task Force 76 in Afghanistan in 2004

    -One instance of how Barrick’s formal PME schooling failed him during his interactions and collaboration with NATO planners in Kabul

    -Another hard learned lesson, this one involving NATO planners and an Afghan military parade

    -Barrick’s experiences attending the Advisor Training Group in 29 Palms and the limits of training

    -Barrick’s time as a senior advisor to an Afghan National Civil Order Police Brigade in 2011-12

    -Barrick’s hair-raising experience planning a Afghan National Army-led operation to counter Afghan warlords in Herat in 2004—all in 24 hours

    -What lifelong lessons Barrick took away from hi advisor deployment

    -How Barrick got into wargaming

    -Barrick’s experiences wargaming at the Naval Academy

    -The lack of wargaming opportunities throughout Barrick’s Marine Corps career

    -The benefits and disadvantages of analog and digital wargames

    -How tools like Zoom have facilitated virtual wargaming

    -The many benefits of wargames for warfighters

    -Creating a culture of wargaming in the Marine Corps

    -Thoughts on creating wargame facilitators for the Marine Corps

    -Leveraging the gaming habits of Marines to generate interest in wargaming

    -Commercial wargames that could be used to generate such interest

    -How Barrick used wargames at the Marine Corps Tactics Operations Group

    -The limitations of wargames

    -The value of wargaming for planning

    -The Warfighting Lab’s use of games like Command: Professional Edition

    Links

    -The Marine Corps' Warfighting Skills Program: https://www.themaneuverist.org/resources-main-page/thedustybookshelf/ (See the column of links second from the left,)

    -Wargame: Red Dragon: https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/p/wargame-red-dragon

    -Flashpoint Campaigns: https://store.steampowered.com/app/330720/Flashpoint_Campaigns_Red_Storm_Players_Edition/ 

    -Command: Professional Edition: https://www.warfaresims.com/?page_id=3822

    -Combat Mission: Shock Force 2: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1369370/Combat_Mission_Shock_Force_2/

    -Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front: https://store.steampowered.com/app/306640/Battle_Academy_2_Eastern_Front/

    -The Operational Art of War IV: https://store.steampowered.com/app/792660/The_Operational_Art_of_War_IV/




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    • 2 hr 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
13 Ratings

13 Ratings

B Bocian ,

Great stuff

Moderator is the Joe Rogan of military podcasts hosts. Great guests, long form interviews.

-CJBoston17 ,

Simply well done.

I love the moderator. Great line of questions that allow all of his guest to reveal their treasures of experimental wisdom for all to indulge.

minivan0369 ,

Episode 10

I appreciate the openness and high level of intellect Mr. Neil supported the podcast with. I feel like I share a lot of common visions he does with our entry level pipeline, SOF and squad employment. #mindset

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