The Modern War Institute podcast is the flagship podcast of the Modern War Institute at West Point. Featured guests include senior military and defense leaders, scholars, and others who discuss the most important issues related to modern conflict.
What Should We Make of the Protests in Iran?
Since the middle of September, when an Iranian woman died after being detained in Tehran for improperly wearing her headscarf, protests have gripped the country. But what sets them apart from previous periods of demonstrations against the Iranian regime? Will that regime manage to weather the storm and bring the protests to an end as it has in the past? And what are the possible outcomes if the movement not only maintains its momentum but gathers strength? Alex Vatanka, director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute, joins this episode to discuss these questions and more.
Data and the Battlefield
This episode examines how special operations forces are integrating high-tech tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize their operations. Dr. Richard Shultz of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Gen. Richard Clarke, commander of US Special Operations Command, join the podcast to trace the history of US special operations forces' efforts in Iraq to adapt to the counterterrorism fight there, explain how these forces made use of data to enable a remarkably rapid operational tempo, and describe how a program called Project Maven took shape to harness new technological capabilities.
What Kind of Leader Will Al-Qaeda Choose Next?
The recent death of Ayman al-Zawahiri marks a rare inflection point for a terrorist organization that has had just two leaders in the more than three decades of its existence. Forecasting its future trajectory—and developing counterterrorism policy—will depend on what type of leader emerges as Zawahiri's successor. Dr. Tricia Bacon and Dr. Elizabeth Grimm are the authors of a new book, Terror in Transition: Leadership and Succession in Terrorist Organizations. They join this episode to describe the five categories of leader they have identified by rigorously analyzing leadership succession in terrorist organizations. They also explain what each of those types of leader would mean for al-Qaeda going forward and why it is so crucial for counterterrorism policymakers and practitioners to understand these leadership types as they conceptualize the threat posed by the terrorist organization and seek ways to counter that threat.
On the Streets: Irregular Warfare in an Urban World
How are demographic and economic shifts increasing the importance of urban centers around the globe? What does this mean for military forces? To what extent do the local politics of a city complicate military operations there—specifically irregular warfare activities? When conflict between an insurgency and government forces enters a city, does the terrain inherently favor one side over the other? This special episode addresses these questions as it brings together two of the Modern War Institute's core areas of focus: urban warfare and irregular warfare.
Kyle Atwell and Ben Jebb host the episode. You can also hear this and many more insightful explorations of issues related to irregular warfare on the Irregular Warfare Podcast. And don't miss the exceptional written content produced by the Irregular Warfare Initiative.
Their guests are Sergeant Major Charles Ritter, deputy commandant of the US Army's JFK Special Warfare Center and School, and John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute. A leading expert on urban warfare, John also leads the Urban Warfare Project and hosts the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, both of which are outstanding resources on urban warfare and its challenges.
Intro music: "Unsilenced" by Ketsa
Outro music: "Launch" by Ketsa
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Just How Crowded Is The Space Domain?
As the US Space Force nears its third birthday, John Amble is joined by Dr. Moriba Jah on this episode to explore just how crowded the space domain is—especially with the surprising amount of detritus created over more than six decades of the Space Age. Dr. Jah is an aerospace engineer who has worked for NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory. He is now an associate professor at the University of Texas, where he monitors space and works to track thousands of objects—a number that continues to grow—orbiting Earth.
Why Cohesion Matters
The term "cohesion" features prominently in discussions of military effectiveness, especially at the small-unit level. We all know intuitively what it means, but understanding how to develop and nurture it in practice is a challenge. That's even more true as technological advancement continues to make constant connectivity with the outside world easier, even from a battlefield. How do soldiers' stresses from home impact cohesion? What about when soldiers no longer process shared traumatic experiences together? John Spencer spent twenty-five years as an infantry soldier and officer, including leading troops in combat. His new book, Connected Soldiers, is based on both his personal experience and deep research. He joins this episode to discuss how unit cohesion affects military performance and how leaders can foster its development.
Interesting and educational. I’m able to apply lessons learned to my own life.
Detailed and educational podcast.
A very informative podcast
Keep up the great work. I learn new things from every episode.