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The Irregular Warfare Podcast explores an important component of war throughout history. Small wars, drone strikes, special operations forces, counterterrorism, proxies—this podcast covers the full range of topics related to irregular war and features in-depth conversations with guests from the military, academia, and the policy community. The podcast is a collaboration between the Modern War Institute at West Point and Princeton's Empirical Studies of Conflict Project.
 
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The Spear

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The Spear

Modern War Institute at West Point

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The Spear is a podcast from the Modern War Institute at West Point. It aims to explore the combat experience, with each episode featuring a guest who tells a detailed and personal story, describing the events and exploring topics like decision-making under stress and what it feels like to be in combat.
 
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On November 26, 2008, ten Pakistan-based terrorists simultaneously attacked and sieged multiple sites across the megacity of Mumbai, India. The world watched in horror as the attacks terrified the city for almost three days. Often referred to as India’s 9/11, the attacks were planned and orchestrated seemingly with the precision of a military speci…
 
Irregular warfare is executed across all domains. In the air, the responsibility for IW falls to Air Force Special Operations Command. Today, the command stands at an inflection point in which it must prepare to compete against great powers while continuing the fight against violent extremist organizations. How must AFSOC change in order to meet di…
 
This episode of the MWI Podcast features a conversation with August Cole, coauthor of a new book called Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution. It’s a techno-thriller and a work of fiction, but it is also based on deep research and allows readers to examine the types of technologies that will increasingly characterize the future—from every…
 
On August 11, 2004, Staff Sgt. John Borman’s platoon ventured out on what was supposed to be a short counter-mortar observation mission. Except that day, instead of targeting Camp War Eagle, the Mahdi Army targeted John’s observation post with accurate indirect fire. To top it off, John wasn’t even supposed to be in Iraq that day. He was supposed t…
 
In counterinsurgency warfare, how can powerful states reform corrupt or repressive governments into legitimate ones? Our guests on this episode, Jacqueline L. Hazelton and Anne-Marie Slaughter, discuss this fundamental challenge and explain two competing models of counterinsurgency that take different approaches to it. The first is the good governa…
 
What did we learn about modern war in 2021? What issues defined the most important conversations in defense circles? In this special year-end episode of the MWI Podcast, John Amble speaks to the directors of MWI's four themed projects, each aimed at advancing our understanding of a particular aspect of modern war—the Urban Warfare Project, the Irre…
 
What do urban warfare experts have on their Christmas lists? In this episode, Colonel (CA) John Spencer is joined by Major Jayson Geroux and Mr. Stuart Lyle for a holiday-themed conversation about the tools and capabilities they really hope Santa brings. Maj. Geroux is a member of the directing staff of the Tactics School at the Canadian Army’s Com…
 
In this episode, retired US Air Force Col. Kim Campbell joins to share a story from 2003. A career A-10 pilot, her squadron was deployed to the Middle East at the beginning of the war in Iraq. During a mission, she and her flight lead in another A-10 responded to a call for air support from a US unit engaged with Iraqi troops. On her last rocket pa…
 
In the aftermath of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the country's chaotic collapse, it is easy to forget the prominent role that the United States played in building, leading, and sustaining a forty-nation coalition for the war effort—a task that required some determined diplomacy and a sophisticated understanding of what each country …
 
After twenty years of America’s post-9/11 wars and the US military’s struggle to build capable and effective security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is an important discussion taking place about what role security force assistance should play for the United States in the very different strategic environment that is taking shape. Will it be a…
 
On the morning of March 7, 1988, three members of the Palestine Liberation Organization hijacked a bus full of Israeli women traveling to work near the town of Dimona, Israel, in what has become known as the “Mothers’ Bus attack.” Maj. Gen. Avshalom Peled was at the time a platoon commander in the Yamam, an elite Israeli counterterrorist organizati…
 
hroughout history, IW organizations have undergone dramatic changes at all levels to meet the demands of new operating environments and threats. The book The Changing of the Guard: The British Army since 9/11 explores the difficulties the British Army faced trying to reorganize for irregular warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. Simon Akam, the book's a…
 
Recently, large numbers of Russian military forces have been moved to areas near Russia's border with Ukraine. This has set off a wave of reporting and analysis about what it likely means. But there’s a considerable degree of nuance and substantial context that both need to be accounted for to best understand what the troop movements indicate, to p…
 
In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Richard Norton, aprofessor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College and a retired US Navy commander. Dr. Norton discusses his research on what he calls "feral cities"—those in which the state has lost the ability to maintain the rule of law yet remain a functioning actor in the greater …
 
What is the intersection between cyber and irregular warfare? Should the United States consider cyberspace a typical or exquisite domain? How did the counterterrorism fight serve as a proving ground for the application of these emerging capabilities? This episode examines the character of cyber warfare—both in its relationship to irregular warfare …
 
In this episode, John Amble speaks with Chris Dougherty of the Center for a New American Security. He and his colleagues recently conducted a wargame that sought to identify what strategic options the United States and Taiwan have to deter a particular fait accompli move by China against Taiwan. What they found as the best option is something they …
 
Observers watched the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War closely, searching for indicators of the character of warfare on tomorrow's battlefields. The lessons extracted have covered advanced technology and unmanned platforms, proxy dynamics, the ongoing relevance of armor, and more. But some of the most important lessons have received much less attention. T…
 
Will the role and capabilities required of special operations forces change in a geopolitical context characterized by great power competition? How will SOF balance enduring counterterrorism missions with new requirements to deter great power rivals? This episode examines those questions and more and features a discussion with General Richard Clark…
 
In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Brig. Gen. Robert Wooldridge. He is the Deputy Commanding General for Support of the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard—which just held the Army’s first urban warfare planners course. Listen as he explains the gaps that drove the division's leaders…
 
What lessons should the United States and its allies take from twenty years of irregular warfare since 9/11? What will the future of irregular warfare look like? Episode 38 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast is a recording of the keynote policy panel, featuring prominent scholars and practitioners, from the inaugural Irregular Warfare Initiative conf…
 
In this episode, Paul Lushenko joins to discuss armed drones—in particular the impact their proliferation will have on global order. That's the subject of a new book for which he was a coeditor. Why do states—and nonstate actors—choose to use armed drones as weapons of war? How does that decision affect these actors' international reputations? How …
 
Foreign fighters play an influential role in Islamic extremist groups. They tend to be more violent, more committed, and more resistant to reconciliation than their indigenous counterparts. Perhaps most significantly, they act as vectors of extremism, moving between zones of conflict, and sometimes returning to their countries of origin to instigat…
 
In this episode, the second in a two-part series, John Spencer continues his conversation with retired Brig. Gen. Yom Tov Tamir. In the previous episode, he reflected on his long career as an armor officer in the Israel Defense Forces, in which he held positions from tank commander to division commander. Part two picks up with a description of his …
 
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