113 episodes

This podcast seeks to learn what war teaches. There has been a steady decline in the study of military history and its associated theoretical discipline, strategy.This podcast seeks to fill that gap through in-depth interviews on military and diplomatic history.  Our guests have included former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis, and China Select Committee chairman Mike Gallagher. We discuss the battlefield commanders, diplomats, strategists, policymakers, and statesmen who have had to make wartime decisions in the ancient and modern eras.The subject of an episode may be an historical battle, campaign, or conflict; the conduct of policy in the course of a major international incident; the work of a famous strategist; the nature of a famous weapon; or the legacy of an important military commander or political leader.  

Aaron MacLean is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He has worked as a foreign policy advisor and legislative director to Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and spent seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

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School of War Nebulous Media

    • History
    • 4.6 • 228 Ratings

This podcast seeks to learn what war teaches. There has been a steady decline in the study of military history and its associated theoretical discipline, strategy.This podcast seeks to fill that gap through in-depth interviews on military and diplomatic history.  Our guests have included former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis, and China Select Committee chairman Mike Gallagher. We discuss the battlefield commanders, diplomats, strategists, policymakers, and statesmen who have had to make wartime decisions in the ancient and modern eras.The subject of an episode may be an historical battle, campaign, or conflict; the conduct of policy in the course of a major international incident; the work of a famous strategist; the nature of a famous weapon; or the legacy of an important military commander or political leader.  

Aaron MacLean is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He has worked as a foreign policy advisor and legislative director to Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and spent seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Visit our Substack for episode transcripts
Follow along on Instagram

    Ep 111: Prit Buttar on the Siege of Leningrad and War in the East

    Ep 111: Prit Buttar on the Siege of Leningrad and War in the East

    Prit Buttar, historian and author of To Besiege a City: Leningrad 1941–42, joins the show to talk about the siege of Leningrad and about the nature of war on the Eastern Front. 
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     Times 
        •      01:56 Introduction 
        •      02:10 A familiar story
        •      06:09 Themes of the Eastern Front 
        •      13:19 From Tsar to Stalin to Putin
        •      11:10 Barbarosa 
        •      19:45 An immense scale 
        •      27:29 Doctrinal failure
        •      33:17 Inside the Russian mindset  
        •      37:21 The myth of the “Clean Wehrmacht”
        •      40:20 The siege 
        •      49:15 Who stays?
        •      51:18 How did the Germans fail? 
        •      01:03:25 Staying vigilant

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    Buy the book here - To Besiege a City: Leningrad 1941–42

    • 1 hr 7 min
    Ep 110: Thomas Mahnken on Net Assessment

    Ep 110: Thomas Mahnken on Net Assessment

    Thomas Mahnken, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, joins the show to talk about net assessment and the future of war.
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     Times 
        •      01:39 Introduction 
        •      02:02 An interesting journey
        •      03:33 The Office of Net Assessment 
        •      09:49 A tool, not a solution 
        •      13:19 Both quantity and quality matter 
        •      15:05 Soviet thinking 
        •      19:20 Leveraging insight 
        •      23:11 Potential outcomes
        •      28:35 “The Houthis have friends.”  
        •      33:19 Danger and opportunity 
        •      37:20 The terms of success change
        •      43:14 Solving the problem of the moment

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    • 46 min
    Ep 109: John Noonan on Nuclear Weapons and Policy

    Ep 109: John Noonan on Nuclear Weapons and Policy

    John Noonan, senior advisor at POLARIS National Security, joins the show to talk about all things nuclear; the life of a missileer, the current U.S. arsenal and its production problems, the strategy of deterrence, and how Congressional oversight helps/hinders good government. 
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     Times 
        •      01:34 Introduction 
        •      02:04 VMI and the Air Force
        •      05:13 Missileers 
        •      11:25 Targets of significance 
        •      16:33 Atrophy 
        •      22:18 Production problems 
        •      27:46 Congressional oversight 
        •      34:30 An unfocused military
        •      44:17 Not getting it done 
        •      47:05 “Raw and abject stupidity”

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    • 55 min
    Ep 108: Donald L. Miller on Masters of the Air

    Ep 108: Donald L. Miller on Masters of the Air

    Donald L. Miller, historian and author of Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany, the book behind Apple TV+’s Masters of the Air, joins the show to talk about the air war over Europe during WWII.
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     Times 
        •      01 :41 Introduction 
        •      02:12 Growing up “surrounded by the war”
        •      15:35 Both sides are losing 
        •      25:23 Highest percentage of casualties
        •      34:36 Mass vs mass 
        •      37:20 A new battlefield 
        •      42:49 “Almost nothing held up.” 
        •      44:46 Robert Rosenthal 
        •      48:57 Working with Tom Hanks 
        •      53:51 Recreating air combat 
        •      56:02 Gil Cohen, Greyhound, and Das Boot 
        •      59:44 Narrative choices
        •     01:06:36 The stress of command

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    Buy the book here - Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany 

    • 1 hr 10 min
    Ep 107: John Orloff on Masters of the Air

    Ep 107: John Orloff on Masters of the Air

    John Orloff, creator, writer and co-executive producer of Apple TV+’s Masters of the Air, joins Aaron to talk about the new show highlighting the WWII experiences of the men of the 100th Bomb Group, a part of the 8th Air Force’s strategic bombing campaign over Europe. Masters of the Air streams January 26th only on Apple TV+.
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    Times 

      02:25 Introduction 

      03:00 Getting started

      05:45 Band of Brothers 

      12:56 Finding the story

      19:44 Masters of the Air 

      24:37 Core characters 

      30:12 Group level 

      32:11 Influences 

      37:38 Production challenges

      40:25 Procedure as drama 

      43:50 Unique trauma 

      48:20 Casting


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    • 52 min
    Ep 106: John McManus on the U.S. Army’s Pacific War

    Ep 106: John McManus on the U.S. Army’s Pacific War

    John McManus, author of To the End of the Earth: The US Army and the Downfall of Japan, 1945 and host of the We Have Ways of Making You Talk in the USA podcast, joins the show to talk about why the U.S. Army’s war in the Pacific during WWII merit deeper study and recognition.
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    Times 
        •   02:12 Introduction 
        •   03:57 Lessons to be learned
        •   05:32 The Army from Pearl to Tokyo 
        •   08:50 Winds of change
        •   14:07 Europe first 
        •   21:16 Taiwan or the Philippines? 
        •   27:55 Battleground Manila 
        •   30:48 Bleeding the Americans
        •   34:56 Failures in China
        •   40:33 Chiang Kai-shek
        •   45:07 Okinawa
        •   48:06 Operation Downfall
        •   52:24 Revisionist and reductionist history 
        •   55:19 Required reading

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    • 1 hr 1 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
228 Ratings

228 Ratings

Churchilladmirer ,

School of War

Just recently started listening and it’s instantly my favorite podcast. Always learn so much. Not only are the guests and books discussed super interesting, but MacLean is a provocative commentator and excellent interviewer with deeply insightful questions. Thank You and, while it will take me some time to listen to all the back-episodes, please keep the great content coming!

Prtr8r ,

This is the only podcast that I have listened to every episode

Excellent and informative just listen to Paul fever on wokeness in the military. I’m a conservative, but I don’t care if you are transgender or not. However, selective surgery degrades your readiness and should not be performed in the military.

Philip Heard ,

Informative

Enjoying this podcast, very educational, interesting guests covering helpful topics.

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