A production of the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy, Social Science of War brings together leading research and practitioner... More
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A production of the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy, Social Science of War brings together leading research and practitioner perspective to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the US Army.