Irregular Warfare Podcast

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 University’s Empirical Studies of Conflict Project.

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Episodes

5 days ago

Episode 107 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast examines how China uses its paramilitary and internal security forces to project power abroad and build global influence.
 
Our guests begin by dissecting the Chinese security apparatus: contrasting the People’s Liberation Army with the CCP’s internal police forces and paramilitaries. They then explore how China uses these nontraditional security forces—which often aid foreign governments in maintaining regime stability—as an alternative to U.S. security assistance packages. Finally, our guests conclude by examining how the U.S. and its allies can compete with China more effectively in the realm of security cooperation.

Friday May 31, 2024

Episode 106 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast examines how drones, robotics, and automation are changing the battlefield in Ukraine and how ARSOF has adapted. 
Our guests begin by outlining the significance of robotics and autonomous systems on the Ukrainian battlefield. From there, they delve into how US Special Operations formations are learning from Ukraine and changing their own formations. Finally, they end with a deep dive on how SOF forces have used drones in the past and how that compares to the modern fight and look at what changes SOF, industry and the US government may have to make to keep pace with the changing character of war.

Friday May 17, 2024

Episode 105 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast contrasts security force assistance (SFA) efforts in Ukraine and Afghanistan.
 
Our guests begin by outlining the significance of security force assistance and its pivotal role in Washington’s wider national security strategy. From there, they delve into a detailed analysis of SFA in both Afghanistan and Ukraine, extracting valuable lessons for policymakers and practitioners to inform future SFA policies. Finally, they end with a deep dive into SFA activities in Eastern Europe, shedding light on the socialization and transactional approaches needed to align incentives and enhance the combat capabilities of the United States’ international partners. 

Friday May 03, 2024

Episode 104 examines the role of intelligence professionals and agencies at the tactical and operational levels of irregular warfare while diving deeply into the links between US SOF and the CIA. 
Our guests begin with an overview of the history of the CIA and the development in intelligence capabilities throughout the Global War on Terror, and then they discuss ways that intelligence professionals can partner most effectively with other organizations. Finally, they close with a discussion about the future of intelligence collection.

Friday Apr 19, 2024

Episode 103 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast examines the role that irregular conflicts played during the Cold War to inform today’s era of strategic competition.
 
Our guests begin by explaining how irregular conflicts and capabilities play a role in strategic competition, despite policy structures in Washington that often silo great power conflict from irregular warfare. They then discuss evidence from the Cold War that suggests small, local wars often become battlegrounds between great powers. Finally, our guests conclude with a discussion of the kinds of irregular warfare interventions policymakers should consider for today’s era of great power competition and make recommendations for removing bureaucratic hurdles that would better integrate policies and practice for IW and strategic competition.

Friday Apr 05, 2024

Episode 102 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast examines how special operations forces can disrupt the strategic designs of Washington’s adversaries.
Our guests begin with an in-depth discussion on civil-military relations, examining the relationship between SOL/IC and SOCOM. They then discuss the unique capabilities that special operations forces bring to the table, both during peacetime competition and large scale combat operations. Finally, they address the complexities of interagency cooperation, and how irregular warfare units can leverage their skills to deter adversaries, impose outsized costs, and create relative positions of advantage.

Friday Mar 22, 2024

In today's episode, we delve into the topic of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants. Our guests explore the theoretical underpinnings of DDR, the motivations behind individuals joining armed groups, and effective strategies for reintegrating former combatants back into society.

Friday Mar 08, 2024

In Episode 100 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast, we delve into the world of covert operations.
Our guests begin by defining covert and clandestine operations, shedding light on their intricacies and historical significance. They then discuss the complexities of clandestine activities, and address the difficulties associated with translating irregular warfare and covert operations into tangible policies.

Friday Feb 23, 2024

Episode 99 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast takes us to the final frontier as we examine irregular warfare in space. 
Our guests begin by explaining the importance of the space domain in the private and public spheres. They then give us multiple frameworks for thinking about space by using more familiar, terrestrial-based concepts to enhance our understanding of space competition. Finally, our guests conclude by contemplating how private industries could shape the space domain, and how U.S. policymakers should approach space-based deterrence.

Stay Behind Operations

Friday Feb 09, 2024

Friday Feb 09, 2024

Episode 98 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast delves into resistance warfare—with a specific focus on stay behind operations. 
 
Our guests begin by contrasting conventional conflict with resistance warfare. They then discuss the utility of stay behind operations by examining how small states can impose outsized costs on occupying powers. More specifically, they address how distributed resistance elements can frustrate aggressive powers by operating behind enemy lines. Finally, they end by providing policymakers with a framework for crafting indigenous, stay behind forces in the digital age. 

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