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Civil-Military Relations and Partisanship in the Armed Forces
Since Samuel Huntington introduce the concept of objective control in his 1957 book The Soldier and the State, it has been the model of civil-military relations taught most widely in US professional military education. And yet the concept is not without critics. This episode features a fascinating discussion about civil-military relations, using Huntington’s model as a starting point before exploring topics such as partisanship in the military, what role service members should play in public discourse, and how to establish oversight over a military that is widely regarded as one of the most trusted institutions in American society. Host Kyle Atwell is joined by three guests for the discussion: Dan Helmer, a delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates and Army lieutenant colonel who teaches in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point; Major Michael Robinson, a recent assistant professor in the Social Sciences Department at West Point and author of Dangerous Instrument: Political Polarization and US Civil-Military Relations; and Dr. Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute who has served in the State Department, in the Defense Department, and on the National Security Council and coedited, with General Jim Mattis, the book Warriors and Citizens: American View of Our Military.
|Apr 17, 2023|
Adapting the Army to Strategic Competition
The US military and those of its allies are faced with the challenges of shifting focus toward great power competition while still maintaining the ability to counter threats on the fringes. Where does the Army fit in this new strategic landscape? What are the broader implications for land forces? What constitutes success in competition? And what role does irregular warfare play in deterring near-peer competitors? This episode addresses these questions and more and features a fascinating conversation with General James C. McConville, chief of staff of the US Army, and Professor Peter Roberts, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.
|Apr 03, 2023|
Land Warfare in Europe, Part 2: Large-Scale Combat Operations in Ukraine
In the previous episode of the Social Science of War, our guests explored the strategic and political dynamics of NATO. This episode continues the focus on European security, turning specifically to the tactical and operational lessons on display in the war in Ukraine. It features a discussion with three expert guests: retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the former commander of US Army Europe; Major Ryan Van Wie, a former assistant professor in West Point's Department of Social Sciences currently deployed as part of Operation European Assure, Deter, and Reinforce; and Dr. Jack Watling, senior research fellow for land warfare at the Royal United Services Institute.
From mission command to logistics and from air defense to the synchronization of combined arms, our guests explore the tactical-level lessons emerging from Ukraine. They then turn to a discussion of the theory and practice of conventional deterrence, and how the United States can best posture its forces in Europe to deter future aggression.
|Mar 20, 2023|
Land Warfare in Europe, Part 1: The Politics of Coalition Warfare
How would the United States and its NATO allies fight together in a great power war? How does burden sharing between NATO members shape alliance dynamics? And what lessons can NATO learn from the ongoing war in Ukraine? In this first part of a two-episode series examining land warfare in Europe, our focus is on the strategic and political dynamics of NATO. Part two will be released in two weeks and will examine tactical and operational lessons from the war.
Kyle Atwell is joined by two guests on this episode. Dr. Benedetta Berti is the head of policy planning in the office of NATO's secretary general whose research focuses on foreign policy and security. Lieutenant Colonel Jordan Becker is an assistant professor in West Point's Department of Social Sciences who has held positions at NATO headquarters and the US mission to NATO and has authored multiple publications on transatlantic burden sharing and the political economy of European security.
|Mar 06, 2023|
Theory and Practice of Proxy Warfare in Strategic Competition
This episode tackles the subject of proxy warfare—specifically its role in a strategic environment characterized by great power competition. Why do states engage in proxy warfare? How does what scholars call principal-agent theory explain the way proxy warfare actually plays out—particularly the challenges that arise when the interests of a principal and a proxy diverge? And as the US military continues to prepare for large-scale combat operations, how should the ability to leverage proxies factor into planning? For the US Army in particular, these questions are vital.
To explore them, host Kyle Atwell is joined by three guests. Dr. Nakissa Jahanbani is an assistant professor in West Point's Department of Social Sciences and a researcher at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Dr. Vladimir Rauta is a lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Reading and the editor of the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Proxy Wars. And retired Lieutenant General Ken Tovo served for almost forty years in the Army, including as commanding general of US Army Special Operations Command.
|Feb 20, 2023|
Shaping in Strategic Competition: How to Win Friends and Influence People with Military Power
This episode examines the role of military power not only to fight wars but also to attract and influence partners and allies. Known as shaping, these activities include multinational training exercises with foreign militaries, establishing US military basing around the world, security force assistance and military aid, and more. Given the National Defense Strategy places a high priority on the US alliance and partner network, shaping is an essential concept to understand how the United States leverages the US Army to strengthen its relationships.
To discuss the topic, host Kyle Atwell is joined by three guests. Dr. Brian Blankenship is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Miami who has published extensively on alliance burden-sharing and reassurance. Retired Brigadier General Kim Field is the director of strategy, plans, and policy at US Special Operations Command, has held a number of senior positions both in the Army and in the Department of State, and is a previous assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point. And Major Kyle Wolfley is a US Army strategist at US Cyber Command, a recent assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences, and the author of Military Statecraft and the Rise of Shaping in the World.
|Feb 06, 2023|
The War That Shall Not Be Named: Lessons from Afghanistan for the Army
This episode looks back at twenty years of the US-led war in Afghanistan to find lessons for the US Army. How should the war inform the way we make strategy going forward? What are the keys to effective security force assistance? And is it possible to disrupt the US government's tendency to overmilitarize efforts from the tactical to the strategic level? Three guests join this episode to discuss these questions and more.
Retired Lieutenant General Doug Lute has had a long and distinguished career culminating in a series of senior positions, including US permanent representative to NATO, and is currently the Robert F. McNamara distinguished chair at West Point's Department of Social Sciences. Dr. Jason Lyall is an associate professor in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College, has conducted fieldwork in Afghanistan as a scholar, and is the author of the book Divided Armies: Inequality and Battlefield Performance. And Major Sam Wilkins is a US Army Special Forces officer who served in Afghanistan, has written about the rise and fall of Village Stability Operations there, and currently teaches international affairs in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point.
|Jan 23, 2023|
Army Service and Talent Management in the All-Volunteer Era
This episode of Social Science of War examines a range of issues related to Army talent management—from the ways in which service in the Army impacts a soldier’s earning potential to how the Army is responding to its current recruiting crisis. To do so, Kyle Atwell is joined by two guests who bring both deeply relevant military experience and leading academic research to bear on these important subjects. Command Sergeant Major Faith Alexander is the senior enlisted advisor at the Army Enterprise Marketing Office and Lieutenant Colonel Kyle Greenberg is an academy professor for economics in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point and the director of long-term research for the Army’s Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis.
Among the topics this episode addresses, our guests discuss a recently published article, "Army Service in the All-Volunteer Era," coauthored by Lieutenant Colonel Greenberg, which you can read here.
|Jan 09, 2023|
Persistent, Deniable, Defensive: Cyber Operations and the Army
This episode of the Social Science of War podcast examines the challenges posed by cyber threats to the United States and how the nation and Army are adapting to the cyber domain. To do so, host Kyle Atwell is joined by Colonel Candice E. Frost, commander of the Joint Intelligence Operations Center at US Cyber Command, and Major Margeret Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point and a researcher at the Army Cyber Institute. They begin by outlining a few of the key characteristics of the cyber domain before explaining why cyber operations often favor the defense, particularly given how challenging and resource intensive planning cyber offensive operations can be. They then discuss how the Army fits into the US national response to cyber threats to include the role of hunt-forward teams working with US partners and allies overseas. They conclude with recommendations for how noncyber military leaders should approach the cyber domain at the tactical and operational levels during both peacetime and in potential large-scale combat operations.
Read more about this episode on the MWI website, including recent works by Major Smith that served as the basis for this conversation!
|Dec 26, 2022|
Welcome to the Social Science of War: Lessons from Ukraine for the Army
This is the very first episode of a new podcast from the Department of Social Sciences at West Point: Social Science of War. In it, host Kyle Atwell is joined by retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former commanding general of US Army Europe, and Dr. Rob Person, an associate professor of international affairs at West Point. They tackle a timely and important question: What are the implications for the future of land warfare from the ongoing war in Ukraine? Combining both deep practical experience with European security and scholarship on Russia, grand strategy, and international political economy, our guests' leverage their expertise and unique perspectives to shed light on this critical topic.
|Dec 13, 2022|