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The premier podcast from the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School — the Army's Special Operations Center of Excellence — at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Join us as we explore critical topics to forge a holistic understanding of Special Warfare, and the role of Army Special Operations Forces of the past, present and in the future of our National Defense.

Episode Date
Creating the next generation of SOF leaders

The MSG David K. Thuma Noncommissioned Officers Academy - NCOA is tasked with training disciplined NCO’s capable of executing full spectrum Special Operations in complex and ambiguous environments. In this episode we are joined by three NCOA instructors from each of the Special Forces, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations regiments.  They discuss what it’s like to work at the SWCS NCOA and teach soldiers in order to develop competent and adaptive ARSOF leaders through progressive professional military education. 

Jan 07, 2022
Leaving Afghanistan - Evacuating Afghan SOF

In this episode, we are joined by COL(R) Fred Dummar, a retired Special Forces officer who commanded at every level in Special Forces from Captain to Colonel, with multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Having spent a significant amount of time in Afghanistan himself on active duty and as a defense contractor, COL(R) Dummar discusses the evacuation from Afghanistan and how he aided in the efforts to help get Afghan SOF members out of the country amidst all the chaos.  

Dec 17, 2021
Competitive Banter - A human behavioral phenomenon

In this episode we are joined by Rafi Kohan, the author of “The Arena” which is a deep dive into wide ranging and interdisciplinary examination of the modern American sports stadium. Rafi is currently researching for his upcoming book on competitive banter a.k.a. talking trash, a human behavioral phenomenon that has existed throughout time, across cultures, and across the world.

Dec 15, 2021
A Warrior’s Journey – From Surviving Oppression to Freeing the Oppressed

Today we are joined Green Beret Master Sergeant (Retired) Tu Lam, the inspiration behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Operator Rōnin (浪人) and founder of Ronin Tactics. Tu shares his story of escaping oppression in communist Vietnam and his road to earning the coveted Green Beret, his time serving as a Special Forces soldier, his post-military career and his return to the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, and sharpening the Warrior way of life.

Nov 24, 2021
Countering Misinformation and Disinformation

Today we are joined by Colonel Bobby Sidell, the Command Psychologist for the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School to discuss finding clarity and critical thinking through malign Misinformation-Disinformation (MISDIS). Colonel Sidell discusses SWCS’ new curriculum focused on developing sharper awareness and recognition of MISDIS platforms and the environments which nurture it, means to inoculate ourselves against the rising threat, and the execution of proven countermeasures to mitigate its influence.

Oct 22, 2021
Information Management in the Production of Special Operations

Today we are joined by Major Stu Gallagher, Special Operations Forces Management Information System or SOFMIS. The mission of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS) is to produce our world-class Army Special Operations Force Soldiers. The discussion centers around how SOFMIS improving how the organization it collects, manages and analyzes information to allow the organization to see itself and the Soldiers that it trains. Major Gallagher explores how SOFMIS is illuminating efficiencies in the organization, and driving decisions focused on cost, quality and output in the production of Special Operations Soldiers.

Oct 08, 2021
The Kill Chain – Defending America

Today we are joined by Christian Brose, author of “The Kill Chain - Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare.” We open with Mr. Brose explaining how his time on the Senate Armed Services Committee led him to author this book. He discusses with our host how the changing nature of conflict has eroded traditional U.S. military supremacy. The twin problems are the slowness of the US military to modernize and incorporate new technology and the growing military threat posed by rivals, such as China.  The conversation is rounded out by discussing the steps the US government can take to redress this problem.

Jun 18, 2021
Lessons Learned in Syria

Today we are joined by the commander of the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare and School, Maj. General Patrick Roberson to discusses the lessons learned in Syria. A key theme is the complex nature of fighting in Syria, both to win the war on the ground, and to win the narrative battle. Also covered is the increasing Great Power Competition between the US, Russian and Iranian governments, each attempting to expand their influence in the region. The conversation is rounded out with MG Roberson contrasting Iraq, where SOF CA teams were not allowed by the local government, to Syria where SOF CA teams were welcomed by the Free Syrian Army.

May 28, 2021
SOF Resources for a Healthy Family

Today we are joined again by Colonel Robert Sidell, the Command Psychologist for the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School to discuss the SOF family programs seminar, and the importance of family wellness. COL Sidell opens by explaining the necessity of a good work-life balance and allowing service members to bring their best performance to work. The conversation is then expanded by discussing support resources for family members or Soldiers who have lost a team member. The conversation is rounded out by COL Sidell weighing in on the second and third order effects of these programs, not only healthier families for the service member, but higher retention rates for the military.

Apr 30, 2021
SOF Resources for Mental Wellness

Today we are joined by Colonel Robert Sidell, the Command Psychologist for the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School to discuss executive coaching, professional wellness and development. We open with COL Sidell on why he established the Soldier Wellness and Family Wellness series. We follow this by discussing the traditional stigma attached to seeking mental help and how the new initiatives have built momentum. The conversation is rounded out by giving out information for listeners to enroll in these seminars. If you can’t find a pamphlet, slide or business card, simply find COL Sidell on outlook email, his door is always open for anyone seeking to improve themselves.

Apr 16, 2021
Military Free Fall School

Today we are joined by Major Derrick Taylor, commander of B Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ. MAJ Taylor discusses Military Free Fall (MFF) school and what it does for SOF. We first begin with the history of MFF in the US and the tactical benefits it brings. We then discuss the components of MFF Operations at the school house, beginning with students jumping in tandem with a trainer and progressing to jumping solo with equipment. We close out with the MAJ offering tips and guidance to future MFF applicants, “the #1 thing you can do at the free fall school, is relax”. MFF is a mental challenge requiring all jumpers to be calm and collected.

Apr 02, 2021
SOF Civil Affairs in Modern Conflict

Today we conclude our podcast with Major Travis Clemens, a Civil Affairs Company Commander, discussing his article about Special Operations Forces and Civil Affairs in Great Power Competition. MAJ Clemens opens with discussing the modern forms of Armed Conflict, such as foreign sponsored insurgencies or the construction of military infrastructure in politically disputed locations. A key theme is how 21st century conflict is often, but not always, defined by asymmetrical clashes between the Great Powers in lieu of conventional conflict. Civil Affairs teams must compete with hostile foreign powers by combating their social, economic and political pressures against the populace in a third country.

Mar 19, 2021
SOF Civil Affairs in Great Power Competition

Today we are joined by Major Travis Clemens, a Civil Affairs Company Commander, to discuss his published article about Special Operations Forces and Civil Affairs in Great Power Competition. MAJ Clemens opens by describing what motivated him to write this article and explains how the joint concepts (integrated campaigning, operations in the information environment and human aspects of military operation) provided the foundation for his research. In discussing how the U.S. should counter China and Russia, he emphasizes how the histories of those respective countries plays an enormous role in the decisions of their governments and the actions they take. The conversation is then rounded out by MAJ Clemens mentioning some of the tactics used by Russia and China to expand their influence abroad, such as controlling restricting resources and economic manipulation.

Mar 05, 2021
Transitioning from Military Service

Today we are joined by SFC Andrew Stamp, the program director for Project JANUS, an initiative designed to help Soldiers transition from military service. In SFC Stamp’s experience he has seen Soldiers have 2 years to transition, and others with only 4 months. In SFC Stamp’s experience, the more time the better, because it allows the Soldier to receive more help from JANUS; resume assistance, survivor benefit plans, life insurance options etc. SFC Stamp and his team are committed to helping the Service Member find their footing by connecting them with any of the 40,000+ Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs). The VSOs cover a wide range of occupations and help ensure the Service Member can start a new career they are passionate about. This podcast is not just for service members but is also a great resource for family members supporting a retiring or transitioning Soldier.

Feb 19, 2021
Surviving Selection

Today we are joined by the Commander of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group, COL Stuart Farris. The COL discusses selection for anyone considering joining Special Operations, both the content purpose of ARSOF Selection are covered. Key points include that ARSOF doesn’t look for the “best” people, ARSOF looks for the “right” people. To be selected a candidate must have a healthy combination of physical and mental attributes. The COL also urges that Soldiers who are not selected don’t think of themselves as failures, rather they are in the “top percentile” of the Army and he commends them for applying themselves.

Feb 05, 2021
From Merchant Marine to PSYOP

Today we are joined by the commander of the 8th Psychological Operations Group COL Mushtare to discuss the path that led him to becoming an officer in PSYOP. We open with the COL’s transition from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to becoming an Army Engineer Officer. After meeting a PSYOP MAJ at a FT Bragg ARSOF Fair, he became interested in PSYOP and decided to pursue it as his career. PYSOP was initially not on his mind, but after doing deeper research into their tasks and functions, the COL decided it his branch of choice. His main recommendation for aspiring leaders is to check up with HRC and see all the opportunities out there.

Jan 22, 2021
From Engineers to PSYOP

Today we are joined by the commander of 7th Battalion, 4th Psychological Operations Group LTC Engelmeier to discuss the path that led her to becoming an officer in PSYOP. We open with the LTC’s early career as an engineer in Korea and then FT Belvoir, VA. She then shares her experiences on how key-leader engagements in Afghanistan got her interested in the power of information and using discussions to set the stage for success. What ultimately influenced her to join the PSYOP Regiment was her experience working with HRC and seeing how a small branch is better at managing talent.

Jan 08, 2021
Cross-Function Teams

Today we are joined by the new Commander of the 2nd Special Warfare Training Group, COL Josh Raetz. The COL opens the discussion listing his command initiatives and how 2 SWTG is preparing Soldiers for future conflicts. The discussion then develops to how cross-functional teams are better able to provide innovative solutions to complex problems than core teams without the organic expertise. Rounding out the discussion, COL Raetz offers his thoughts on the perception that a SWCS Cadre position is considered a punishment and not a sought-after job, and offers his insight on continuing to bring in high-speed talent to train Soldiers in the ARSOF Qualification course.

Dec 08, 2020
The Growth Mindset

Today we are joined by Dr. Rick Dietrich and Mr. Bob Jones of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School's Human Development Directorate (HDD). We open the discussion by talking about the Growth Mindset, challenges to performance and how SMs can work to self-improve. The Doctors mention how there will always be stress, but that the way forward for students is to seize what they can control (nutrition, PT, sleep etc) to help lay the mental groundwork for success. We also discuss how the SOCEP and HEAT programs assist our students in reaching their best performance throughout each of the Regimental Qualification Courses.

Oct 02, 2020
ARSOF and Dynamic Teams

Today we are joined by Dr. Preston Cline (Mission Critical Team Institute) and Ms. Cecilia Craft (Special Operations Cognitive Enhancement for Performance  - SOCEP) to discuss team dynamics, the “growth mindset,” and cognitive capacity to think differently about problem solving. An ARSOF Assessment and Selection team is often used as an example. We explore how a newly-made team of individuals can pull together to achieve group goals. Key to success are group trust and group cohesion. MAJ Aguilar rounds out the discussion by expanding on the importance of ARSOF personnel having a mature-mindset and being able to methodically plan their career both for betterment of themselves and ARSOF as a whole.

Sep 11, 2020
Winning the Great Power Competition

Concluding our special on Great Power Competition we discuss the importance of consolidating battlefield gains to support long-term U.S. interests. COL Bryan Groves discuss how the Army develops “measures of effectiveness” to provide a long-term plan of winning on the ground. These measurable set of metrics allow Commanders to see where resources need to be deployed. MAJ Steve Ferenzi follows by explaining how ARSOF leaders can support the U.S. in the Great Power Competition, not only by maintaining unit readiness, but by fostering discussion within your circles. Such discussions would not only bring familiarity about the U.S. Defense Strategy, but also encourage new ideas and innovative solutions.

Sep 04, 2020
Great Power Competition Strategy

In this podcast continuing our “Great Power Competition” discussion MAJ Steve Ferenzi from USASOC G5 Strategic Planning Division offers examples of the expanding competition between the U.S. and near peer competitors such as Russia and China. He extolls the importance of building strategic alliances with partner nations to face down threats together, but cautions that the “U.S. Model” for defense may not be ideal for the region. COL Bryan Groves expands on this theme by stressing the necessity of interagency cooperation to overcome obstacles and bring strategic gains.

May 19, 2020
ARSOF and Great Power Competition

Today we are joined by COL Bryan Groves and MAJ Steve Ferenzi from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command G5 Strategic Planning Division to discuss "Great Power Competition" and ARSOF's role in support of the National Defense Strategy. MAJ Ferenzi leads by defining “Great Power Competition” and explaining the different components thereof. He follows by explaining how the U.S. can expand their influence within the Competition and set the stage to achieve strategic aims. MAJ Aguilar closes out the conversation by noting the increased importance of the information sphere of modern conflicts and ARSOF’s role within. Parts 2 and 3 of this podcast will be uploaded soon!

May 11, 2020
Conquering Adversity

In 2006, Ken Dwyer was a young Captain leading a Special Forces Operational Detachment - Alpha in Afghanistan. During his tour of duty he was struck by a rocket propelled grenade and nearly killed.  In this episode, now LTC Dwyer gives an inspiring lesson on conquering adversity and the great personal cost of returning to active duty to continue his service as a member of the U. S. Army Special Forces. LTC Dwyer cites the unwavering support of his family and peers as key to his recovery. He also emphasizes the need to keep moving forward when faced with adversity.

Apr 28, 2020
Holistic Wellbeing and Resiliency

Today we sit down with several members of the SWCS staff to discuss various ways for Soldiers and Families to stay resilient during the ongoing health crisis of COVID-19. The podcast opens with command Psychologist, COL Bobby Sidell offering technical definitions for the audience, allowing them to better understand the nomenclature. The COL is followed by Ms. Ceci Craft, a SWCS Cognitive Performance Coach who talks about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and maintaining healthy daily routines. Rounding out the podcast is Command Chaplain, LTC Brad Lee speaking about the need to have faith during times of adversity and the necessity of maintaining strong bonds with your spouse, family and friends.

Apr 21, 2020
The Value of Mentorship

MG Patrick Roberson, Commanding General of SWCS, joins us to offer his take on one of his biggest initiatives; mentorship. General Roberson establishes the importance of trust, respect and interest when attempting to successfully develop subordinates. Also discussed is the General’s philosophy of keeping an open mind and an “I have a lot to learn from everybody” mentality. He extolls the virtues of the ability to learn not only from your mentor (superior) but also your mentoree (subordinate).

Apr 08, 2020