A Better Peace: The War Room Podcast show

A Better Peace: The War Room Podcast

Summary: This is the podcast of WAR ROOM, the official online journal of the U.S. Army War College. Join us for provocative discussions about U.S. national security and defense, featuring prominent national security and military professionals.

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 BETTER STRATEGY? IT'S ALL IN THE GAME (WARGAMING ROOM) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:39

Wargames can be incredible teaching and learning tools when they are built and utilized properly. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors and require a skilled hand in their creation. A BETTER PEACE welcomes two such skilled developers, Chris Steinitz and Erin Sullivan to the studio to share their experiences as game developers and discuss how they started in the wargaming world. Chris and Erin join podcast editor Ron Granieri to talk about what makes a great wargame, what crucial information is necessary before even starting construction of a game and when you truly need a wargame versus tailored analysis.

 THEY'RE TAKING OVER! MEET THE HOSTS (MIL SPOUSE EDITION) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 26:07

It's time for another installment of MIL SPOUSE EDITION and we thought before we get too deep into content perhaps you should meet the co-hosts of the series. Faith Bomar and Lynda Lind join podcast editor Ron Granieri in the virtual studio to lay out the roadmap for the series and how they ended up as the hosts of the program. With the goal of sharing information and expertise to the broadest possible audience the two hosts will be talking to experts about topics that are important to military spouses and families. Future episodes will cover education (your children and your own), PCS-ing, volunteering, employment, military culture, customs and courtesies, and maybe most important - self-care. So come meet your guides through this endeavor as Faith and Lynda share conversations and promise a few laughs along the way talking about "Their Mission, Our Story."

 THEIR MISSION, OUR STORY (MIL SPOUSE EDITION) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:52

We do our best at WAR ROOM to publish a wide variety of articles and podcast episodes that we hope contribute to the national security discussion. Sometimes we publish something that might not seem dead center of the military or policy realm or it might appear, at best, adjacent to the strategic level of conversation we aim for. For example, last year our best read article was THE PCS PENALTY AND THE ARMY FAMILY. That's why when the Army War College AY22 Spouses Group came to us with an idea for a podcast we jumped at it. This limited run series will feature spouses who share their expertise and experiences in issues that effect every military family regardless of which branch of service they're in. This episode introduces the production team of Kim Miller, Melanie Wilhite and Joanie Zipperer. All three women are spouses of students in the AY22 Resident Course and they were just a few of the powerhouses behind the scenes making this effort happen. They discuss the thinking behind the project and why the WAR ROOM: MIL SPOUSE EDITION is something you or someone in your life should definitely listen to. Watch for episodes to be released as additional content each Friday for the next several months.

 OUR 300th FREAKIN' EPISODE! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 32:06

This week we are celebrating WAR ROOM's fifth birthday! We published our first article on 1 May 2017 and our first podcast episode a couple of weeks later on 17 May. Today we celebrate where we've been and where we're going with our 300th podcast episode! It's estimated that nearly 75% of all the podcasts started podfade, or slowly stop producing new episodes, often after only about 7 episodes. So you can understand why we're pretty proud to to publish our 300th episode and thrilled that you are still out there listening along. Jacqueline Whitt, our first podcast editor, now Editor-in-Chief, and Ron Granieri, our current podcast editor sit down in the virtual studio to discuss the start of it all. They talk about what it takes to produce an episode, what WAR ROOM hopes to contribute to the NATSEC conversation and where we're hoping to take the conversation. Thanks to all of our loyal listeners and here's to the next 300 episodes. What do you want to hear us talk about? EDITOR'S CORRECTION: Ron mistakenly credits Buck as the voice of the opening credits. That voice is actually Professor Douglas "Muddy" Waters (CAPT, USN, Ret) from the Department of Command, Leadership and Management, and friend of WAR ROOM. Buck just reads all of the legal disclaimers.


Four years ago the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) underwent a name change in hopes of signifying a change in thinking in the region. The new name, United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), was in recognition of "the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific oceans as America focuses West." In studying the region it quickly becomes clear that India, and particularly Indian naval strategy must be examined to understand the dynamics of the situation. A BETTER PEACE welcomes back Patrick Bratton to share his studies of Kavalam Madhava Panikkar, an Indian scholar statesman and the author of among dozens of other works, India and the Indian Ocean: An Essay on the Influence of Sea Power on Indian History. Patrick joins podcast editor Ron Granieri in the studio to look at the life and works of Panikkar and how India's first ambassador to China has lessons to offer to anyone interested in understanding INDOPACOM.

 IF-THEN: DEFINING THE RED LINE IN CYBERSPACE | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:44

Conditional statements or as they're more commonly known, IF-THEN statements, are the foundation of almost all programming languages. They allow an automation that looks for a certain circumstance, and if that circumstance exists then an action happens. The action may be the end result or it may send the automation down a path searching for more circumstances, but it is the building block for decision making processes, cyber or otherwise. That's why it's so odd that when it comes to defining cyber warfare there doesn't seem to be a clear set of rules or IF-THEN statements for decision making. A BETTER PEACE welcomes Patrick Walsh to look at defining the red line in cyberspace. What defines an act of warfare, versus crime, versus terrorism in cyberspace. Patrick joins podcast editor Ron Granieri in the studio to share his years of experience prosecuting cybercrimes and how he feels laws can better inform decision making and responses to actions in the cyber realm.

 CASUALTY ASSISTANCE IN CHANGING TIMES | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:10

Casualties are a fact of military life. Whether the result of a training accident, peacekeeping operations or full scale combat, the military has made the commitment to guide families through the very difficult circumstances of a service member's death with the aid of Casualty Assistance Officers (CAO). Sadly through repetition the U.S. Army has created training and programs and processes that are world class. Unfortunately, when the odd circumstances surrounding the captivity of Bowe Bergdahl by the Haqqani network in Afghanistan and Pakistan occurred, it highlighted the deficiencies of the CAO program when addressing prisoners of non-state actors and violent extremist organizations (VEOs). This isn't the story of Bergdahl's ordeal. It's the experiences of Kevin Hickey the CAO for the Bergdahl family and he joins Ron Granieri in the studio to discuss his observations over five long years supporting them. He's researching and proposing improvements and changes to the traditional CAO program to make sure that the U.S. Army is prepared for situations like the Bergdahl's when it happens again one day.

 TO HELP HEAL THE PEOPLE: JAN SCRUGGS | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:44

Last week on March 29th the nation observed National Vietnam War Veterans Day. This week we'd like to share a conversation with Jan Scruggs, the man who conceived of and eventually built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. A combat veteran of the Vietnam War himself, Jan tells the incredible story of his motivations, obstructions, collaborations and finally success in creating a striking symbol of the conflict and its cost that is visited by over 3 million people each year. He Joins podcast editor Ron Granieri in the virtual studio to discuss his experience in Vietnam and the post traumatic stress he suffered upon his return. Jan tells the story of his mission to recognize the sacrifices and losses of his generation and to help heal the people that are sent out to fight their nation's wars.

 SCI-FI AND STRATEGY: A MATCH MADE AMONG THE STARS | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 34:31

Let's be honest - the study of strategy can, at times, be a tedious thing. For those of us who haven't dedicated their lives and/or careers to understanding the detailed workings, intricate interplay and parlance of the strategic realm it can be a downright drag. But what if you could comprehend it all via an amazing space opera? What if the Empire, the Rebellion, the Romulans, the Klingons, the Federation, the Spice Trade and the Apes of a futuristic Earth all had something to teach you about strategy? What if the Federation could make conversations about discrimination and diversity much easier to discuss in a learning situation? Jon Klug and Steve Leonard so firmly believed that science fiction offers both a mirror and a possible guidebook for students of strategy and leadership that they gathered up a bunch of friends and colleagues and they put a book together on the topic. Jon and Steve join podcast editor Ron Granieri to discuss To Boldly Go: Leadership, Strategy, and Conflict in the 21st Century and Beyond. The three of them examine the genesis of the project, what they've learned along the way and they set out to answer the age old questions Kirk or Picard? Khan or Q? Buck or Flash? The Empire or The First Order? FACT CHECK - Jon Klug mentions that Dino De Laurentiis owned the rights to Star Wars. What Jon was trying to convey was that De Laurentiis owned the rights to Flash Gordon, and he refused to sell them to George Lucas who had hopes to create a new Flash Gordon movie. Instead Lucas was forced to create a little project he eventually called Star Wars.


For many, Afghanistan and the lessons that should have been learned have been overshadowed recently by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. And as much as Ukraine deserves the attention of the world, national security professionals have a duty to learn as much as possible from the successes and failures of Afghanistan. To that end, A BETTER PEACE is extremely pleased to welcome Maj Gen Brian Mennes, the Deputy Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He joins Tom Spahr in the virtual studio to discuss his experiences in Afghanistan during his multiple tours in the theater. Tom and the general served together on three separate tours in Afghanistan and their conversation focuses on the wins that they achieved along the way along with the losses and the eventual fall of the Afghan government in August 2021.

 WAR BY OTHER MEANS? SANCTIONS AND CONFLICT | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:26

Sanctions. They're the talk of the town right now as the world watches Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Social media and the news networks are full of "experts" sharing their opinions on every aspect of sanctions associated with the current world situation. Should they have happened sooner? Did the West wait long enough? Are they too harsh? Should they be much tougher? Is there a clear criteria for Russia to comply with to have them removed? Will they ever completely go away? A BETTER PEACE welcomes Mark Duckenfield, former Department Chair of the Department of National Security and Strategy to discuss the topic. Mark holds a PhD in political science from Harvard University where he specialized in European political economy. He joins podcast editor Ron Granieri in the virtual studio to look at sanctions from a historical perspective. When have sanctions worked? When have they failed? What are the necessary conditions of economies, cultures and people that will enhance or stymie the effects of economic sanctions?

 CHINA'S WILD WEST | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 36:55

Chinese leaders have struggled to develop coherent policies toward Eurasia for centuries. And the work of building a policy for the larger Central Asian region has serious implications for the building of the modern Chinese state. Beijing's efforts to reduce the influence of the Uyghur population of Xinjiang Province is a perfect example of the failing policies of the region. A BETTER PEACE welcomes Zenel Garcia to discuss his latest book China’s Western Frontier and Eurasia The Politics of State and Region-Building. Zenel joins podcast editor Ron Granieri in the virtual studio to examine how China has attempted to handle its western frontier through a series of state-building initiatives. Their conversation looks at how China's region-building project in Eurasia has been complicated by the collapse of the USSR, increasing globalization, and the party’s professed concerns about terrorism, separatism, and extremism.

 EVERYTHING A WEAPON, EVERYONE A COMBATANT | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:11

What if everything around you, every element of your daily life could be weaponized against you and your nation? Space, cyberspace, civil society - all tools and arenas available to the enemy in addition to the traditional domains of warfare. That's the premise of the new book Old and New Battlespaces: Society, Military Power, and War authored by Jahara "Franky" Matisek and Buddhika Jayamaha. A BETTER PEACE welcomes Franky to the virtual studio to discuss how this concept impacts the nature and character of war. He joins podcast editor Ron Granieri to examine what this all means for policy, planning, recruitment and a host of issues for military and political leaders to consider moving forward.


As we wind down Black History Month the Editorial Team thought it most appropriate to re-release this and one other podcast on Executive Order 9981. Originally released in July 2018, the 70th anniversary was a great reminder to examine the official order to desegregate the military and consider how far we've come and what still must be accomplished. This podcast is the second of two commemorating the seventieth anniversary of EO 9981 and its influence over the U.S. armed forces today. WAR ROOM welcomes Brigadier General Earl Simms, U.S. Army Retired, whose thirty-three year career culminated as Commanding General of the U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute. BG Simms relays his experiences as an African-American officer in the early days of integration and his perspectives on the state of race relations in the U.S. military and society today. Army War College Professor of Leadership and Cultural Studies Chuck Allen moderates.

 FEAR, HONOR, INTEREST: THUCYDIDES'S LESSONS FOR UKRAINE | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:02

WAR ROOM isn't a news outlet and we don't do up to the minute reporting. But when Dr. Joel Hillison came to us last week and wanted to discuss the ongoing situation on the Ukraine border we happily welcomed him back to the podcast. Joel joins podcast editor Ron Granieri in the BETTER PEACE virtual studio to discuss what it takes to be truly effective deterring an adversary. It's often easier to declare your enemy irrational, maniacal. or power hungry than it is to try and understand their motivation or point of view. Joel tries to apply strategic empathy (and years of NATO experience and study) to place himself in the shoes of Russian leadership to better grasp what is driving their thought process and actions. The goal is to determine what is important, what is threatening, what consequences are too painful, and where is there room to negotiate? At the time of this episodes release tensions are still high with limited hostilities continuing along the border and avenues of communication still open. Joel and Ron's hope is that at the moment you listen to this episode the conversations are still ongoing, because the alternative is not good for anyone.


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