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War on the Rocks

Great discussions with security, defense, and foreign policy experts recorded over drinks.
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Now displaying: 2014
Dec 23, 2014
We recently sat down with the gang at the Center for a New American Security to discuss offset strategies. As you can see from the photo, we had all the important props one would need to plan how the United States will maintain its military technological superiority, including Star Wars action figures, a drone from Radio Shack, a model drone, a plastic shotgun, a fake robot, and - of course - a bottle of bourbon. We had a lot of fun recording this and we hope you have fun listening to it. Read more about our Beyond Offset series here. 
Dec 4, 2014
Editor's note: Recently, the Clements Center of the University of Texas at Austin and the King's College London War Studies Department held an important conference on the "special relationship" between the United Kingdom and the United States in the larger context of grand strategy. Many WOTR friends and contributors were involved, including John Bew, MLR Smith, Kori Schake, Tim Hoyt, Ryan Evans, and --- of course --- Lawrence Freedman, who gave the final keynote lecture on a subject near and dear to WOTR readers: strategy. Read Freedman's Strategy: A History if you haven't already. And if you have, read it again!   Lawrence Freedman has been Professor of War Studies at King’s College London since 1982. His most recent book is Strategy: A History (OUP, 2013). He is a Contributing Editor at War on the Rocks.
Oct 21, 2014
Admiral Chris Parry (ret.) of the Royal United Services Institute, Bryan McGrath of Hudson's Center for American Seapower, and Evan Montgomery of CSBA joined Ryan Evans for a wide-ranging conversation on naval strategy, a rising China, territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas, NATO's ability to project power in the Baltic and Black Seas, and much more. Have a listen and read Admiral Parry's new book, Super Highway: Sea Power in the 21st Century.   Image: U.S. Navy
Oct 8, 2014
We sat down to talk Asian security at the Jefferson Hotel's Quill Bar. Our guests included: Dean Cheng, Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Robert Haddick, an independent consultant for special operations command and author of Fire on the Water: China, America, and the Future of the Pacific (Naval Institute Press, 2014). TX Hammes, who needs no introduction. With Ryan Evans moderating, the participants buzzed through a number of contentious issues related to Asian security including the ongoing protests in Taiwan, North Korea, tensions between South Korea and Japan, and whether or not the U.S. military is appropriately preparing itself for a potential conflict with China. Have a listen!   Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery
Sep 19, 2014
Some of the sharpest minds on the Middle East in town sat down over drinks to tackle some of the most troublesome problems in the world's most troublesome region. Have a listen! Soner Cagaptay is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is the author of  The Rise of Turkey. Ryan Evans is the editor-in-chief of War on the Rocks. Douglas A. Ollivant is a Senior National Security Fellow with the New America Foundation and the Senior Vice President of Mantid International, LLC. Afshon Ostovar is a senior analyst at the CNA Corporation. Joshua W. Walker is a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a Fellow at the Truman National Security Project,   Image: Flickr, Argenberg, CC
Sep 11, 2014
Yesterday, Ryan Evans sat down with Sean Kay over a couple beers at the Jefferson Hotel's wonderful Quill Bar to discuss America's foreign policy trajectory and Sean's new book, America's Search for Security: The Triumph of Idealism and the Return of Realism.  This wide-ranging conversation covered every topic a foreign policy wonk could dream of: Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, the Cold War, NATO, Russia, President Obama, Ukraine, the Asia Pivot, the Middle East, and more. Sean has insightful points to offer on all of these topics and more based on his perspective as a scholar of foreign relations and still recovering government adviser.   Image: White House
Mar 31, 2014
What about counterinsurgency? At a time when all eyes are focused on the potential outbreak of a "conventional" war in Ukraine, Doug Ollivant, David Ucko and Ryan Evans sat down to consider counterinsurgency over fine bourbon (Noah's Mill, highly recommended). We recorded this podcast to mark the publication of an important book, The New Counter-Insurgency Era in Critical Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan, 2104), edited by David Martin Jones, Celeste Ward Gventer, MLR Smith - who were kind enough to invite Doug and Ryan to Austin, Texas a couple years ago for a wide-ranging discussion aimed at re-assessing counterinsurgency. This workshop attracted the leading lights of the counterinsurgency debate alongside some fresh voices who have conducted some exciting original research. This book is the product of that workshop and it is the perfect text for any class on insurgency, counterinsurgency, and irregular warfare. Read it! And listen to the podcast! Other works referenced in this podcast include: Isaiah Berlin, The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History (Princeton University Press, 2013). Doug Ollivant, Countering the New Orthodoxy: Reinterpreting Counterinsurgency in Iraq (New America Foundation, 2011). David Ucko and Robert Egnell, Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare (Columbia University Press, 2013). David Ucko, The New Counterinsurgency Era (Georgetown University Press, 2009). David Ucko, "Counterinsurgency in El Salvador: The Lessons and Limits of the Indirect Approach," Small Wars and Insurgencies,24:4 (2014).
Mar 28, 2014
This is the second of a two-part podcast set on the concept, and uses, of Strategic Intelligence. In this episode, Marc and Tom discuss how intelligence functions within democratic societies in an effort to look at how a theory of intelligence can emerge.  Following up on the first part of the podcast, we look at what such a theory needs to answer before it can actually operate in a democracy. In the second segment, we sit down for a long discussion with BG (Ret'd) Dr James S. Cox, Vice-President, Academic Affairs with the Canadian Military Intelligence Association. After a 35 year career in the Canadian military dealing with Intelligence in a variety of settings, Jim completed a PhD looking at developing a theory of Intelligence that is truly interdisciplinary in nature.  In this wide ranging discussion, Jim, Marc and Tom tease out how such a theory can be built from the ground up, pragmatic operations of intelligence. For the full show notes for this podcast, check out brokenmirrors.ca   Image: Jo Naylor, CC
Feb 25, 2014
We sat down with General Martin E. Dempsey in his office to talk strategy, the profession of arms, military compensation reform, and professional military education. Interview Transcript (courtesy Federal News Service, Washington, DC): RYAN EVANS:  Hi, this is Ryan Evans with a very special War on the Rocks podcast.  I’m here with General Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I have Jason Fritz, one of our editors at War on the Rocks, also joining us.  And we’re going to talk about profession of arms, which is, General, a big passion of yours, or one of your central efforts, actually, ever since you were TRADOC commander.  How much has your – did your experience joining the post-Vietnam Army in the mid ’70s, which sort of went through some similar challenges that we’re about to see now, shape your approach to profession of arms? GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY:  Well, you know, I think you’re shaped by the accumulation of your experiences over time.  So I entered West Point in 1970, and you know what kind of climate there was in the country in 1970 – not just related to the Vietnam War but related to just a whole bunch of social issues inside the country. So, you know, in that environment, the military had kind of lost its standing with the American people, you know, simply stated.  And so even as a very young officer, it occurred to me that if we are to live up to our – and especially as we transition to an all-volunteer force, by the way – it occurred to me that this issue of professionalism would have to become more prominent.  And, in fact, in 1998, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, I studied for a master’s degree and took as my thesis that issue. And in that particular treatise, if you will, I came to the conclusion that the single most important value in our long list of professional values was the – was the duty – was the value of duty.  By the way, I wasn’t the first one to turn that up.  You may remember that Robert E. Lee said that duty is the sublimest virtue. So that started me down a path of studying what it means to be a professional.  How is it different from simply a job?  What is it that we owe ourselves internally?  How do we hold ourselves to a higher standard?  How do we identify that standard?  What are the key leader attributes that define us?  And how do we deliver them?  And how do we make sure we know we’re delivering them? And so that’s the context in which I entered TRADOC, did some things there, did a few things as chief of staff of the Army, knowing that after 10 or 12 years of conflict we had gotten sloppy.  It’s not – I’ve said this before.  It’s not that the war caused this misstep, if you will, but rather that the tools that we had at our disposal, whether they were education, oversight, surveys, command climate assessments, fitness reports, mentoring and – you know, mentors and protégés, we had kind of broken – you know that – we had kind of broken some of those relationships because of the pace, and in some cases because of modularity, this notion in the Army, anyway, that you can kind of plug and play with units.  Well, you can, actually.  They’re very fungible.  But when you do that, you break the mentor-protégé relationship as you plug and play.  So we’re looking back now and looking forward as well.  That’s a long answer, but that’s how I came to this conclusion that it was time to take a very close look at this. RYAN EVANS:  That’s a good answer, actually.  And I know Jason, a fellow armor officer, experienced – I don’t know if, Jason, you want to comment or question based on what you saw. JASON FRITZ:  Yeah, I would agree, particularly on the issues of mentor and protégé issues.  I was in the first modularized brigade, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, and, you know, we – going through the pains of transitioning to that model and some of the repercussion over the years with them.  I was a brigade planner during the surge,
Feb 17, 2014
Ryan Evans sat down with an august panel of gentlemen and a gentlelady to discuss issues related to contemporary nuclear strategy.  The guests: Elbridge Colby, Fellow, Center for a New American Security Thomas C. Moore, Defense Consultant and former Senior Professional Staff Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under then-Ranking Member Dick Lugar Stanley Orman, former British Defence official, our very own nuclear Yoda, and author of An Uncivil Civil Servant. William Rosenau, Senior Analyst with CNA Strategic Studies' Center for Stability and Development Usha Sahay, Assistant Editor at War on the Rocks and Director of Digital Outreach at the Council for a Livable World They discussed everything from Iran to submarines to the recent nuclear cheating scandal.  Pour yourself a drink and have a listen.   Image: SCFiasco, Flickr, Creative Commons  
Jan 7, 2014
Max Fisher of the Washington Post and Ryan Evans sat down recently with Peter Singer and Allan Friedman of the Brookings Institution to discuss their new book, Cyberwar and Cybersecurity: What Everyone Needs to Know.  It was a fun, wide-ranging, drink-fueled discussion at the Jefferson Hotel's Cabinet Room. Have a listen!   Image: Niklas Morberg, Flickr, CC
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