The Sosh Podcast
Episode 19: LTG (Ret) Sean MacFarland on the Use of Mechanized Forces in Counterinsurgency

Episode 19: LTG (Ret) Sean MacFarland on the Use of Mechanized Forces in Counterinsurgency

June 17, 2021

For Episode 19 of the SOSH Podcast, we interview the former Commander of III Corps, LTG (Ret.) Sean MacFarland. In a conversation with the SOSH Department’s MAJ Ryan Van Wie, LTG MacFarland reflected on his time as Brigade Commander of the “Ready First” Brigade during the 2006 Battle of Ramadi and how that experience differed from his time leading the Counter-ISIL campaign of 2015-2016 in Syria and Iraq. He also shares his views on the decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, why mechanized forces are essential for counterinsurgencies, and perhaps most controversially, why the US should get rid of its Airborne units. 

 

Please email us at SOSHresearchlab@westpoint.edu with any comments, critiques, and questions. We are always looking to hear from our listeners, SOSH Faculty Alumni, and friends of the Department. 

 

LTG (Ret.) Sean Macfarland is a non-resident Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He was the Commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division in 2006 during the Battle of Ramadi, Iraq. In 2015, he commanded III Corps and assumed responsibility of all coalition forces under Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. 

 

MAJ Ryan Van Wie is an instructor of International Relations at the US Military Academy, West Point. His research interests include counterinsurgency strategy and civil conflict dynamics.  

 

 

This episode was originally recorded on May 4th, 2021.

 

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers. They should not be seen as reflective of the official positions of the US Military Academy, the United States Army, the Department of Defense, or any other government entity. 

Episode 18: Cadet Theses in American Politics

Episode 18: Cadet Theses in American Politics

June 1, 2021

For this episode of the Sosh Podcast, MAJ AJ Glubzinski interviews three (former) cadets from the Class of 2021 who completed senior thesis projects in American Politics. Their paper topics covered a broad range of topics, such as measuring the economic impacts of expanding the interstate highway system, analyzing the emergence of interstate compacts to combat COVID-19, and how Congress exercises its oversight powers over the military. If you are interested in receiving a copy of their papers or to learn more, please email us at SOSHResearchLab@westpoint.edu .

 

This episode was originally recorded on May 6th 2021, just a few weeks before the graduation of the Class of 2021.

 

Chris Weaver is a member of the USMA Class of 2021 and is originally from Selma, Alabama. His thesis is titled “Reversing the Radiator Springs Effect: The Developmental Impacts of Integrating Isolated Rural Communities into the Existing Interstate Highway Network.”

 

Pat Schlimm is a member of the USMA Class of 2021 and is originally from St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania. His thesis is titled “A Partisan Contagion? Interstate Compacts in Response to COVID-19.”

 

Ryan Johnson is a member of the USMA Class of 2021 and is originally from Tampa, Florida. His thesis is titled “Watchdogs or Wardogs? The Changing Patterns of Congressional Oversight in Military Affairs.”

 

MAJ AJ Glubzinski is an assistant professor of American Politics at the US Military Academy, West Point.

 

The views expressed on this podcast are those of the speakers, and should not be taken as the official positions of the US Military Academy, the United States Army, the Department of Defense, or any government entity.

Episode 17: Addressing the Challenge of Extremism and the Military

Episode 17: Addressing the Challenge of Extremism and the Military

May 10, 2021

On this episode, Sosh faculty members Audrey Alexander and Mike Robinson talk about the emerging concerns over extremism in the military, how the portrayal of this threat is sometimes distorted, and what the military, government, and the public should do to respond.

Audrey Alexander is a researcher and instructor from the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point. She holds a master’s degree in Terrorism, Security & Society from the War Studies Department at King’s College London, and was a senior research fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism prior to coming to West Point.

MAJ Mike Robinson is an assistant professor of international affairs at West Point and is a repeat guest of the podcast. He received his PhD in political science from Stanford University, where his research focused on civil-military relations and partisan polarization.

 

Links

For more information about the Combating Terrorism Center, visit their website at https://ctc.usma.edu . The CTC also publishes a monthly newsletter called the CTC Sentinel which covers contemporary terrorism issues – it is accessible for free through their website.

MAJ Robinson and Dr. Kori Schake's Op-ed in the NY Times about Extremism and the Military: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/opinion/veterans-capitol-attack.html

 

The CTC's Dr. Daniel Milton's Report on Veteran Participation on January 6th, 2021: https://ctc.usma.edu/this-is-war-examining-military-experience-among-the-capitol-hill-siege-participants/

 

Episode 16: Ambassador Nicholas Burns on NATO, Democracies, and China

Episode 16: Ambassador Nicholas Burns on NATO, Democracies, and China

April 5, 2021

Following up on Episode 15 where we talked about NATO with LTC Seth Johnston, we continue our deep dive into NATO by sitting down for a conversation with Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Former US Ambassador to NATO. Ambassador Burns spoke with CPT Tony Palocaren about NATO’s expanding scope in the 21st Century, addressing democratic backsliding in Europe, what role NATO has in confronting a rising China, and the emerging challenge of climate change.

 

Bios

Ambassador Nicholas Burns is currently the Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School. He served as a career Foreign Service Officer for 27 years where he assumed a variety of prominent roles such as being the US Ambassador to Greece, the US Ambassador to NATO, and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under President George W. Bush.

 

CPT Antony Palocaren is an Instructor of International Affairs at West Point, and was a student of Ambassador Burns at the Harvard Kennedy School. His research interests include great power competition and the role of alliances.

 

Links

- https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/nato-seventy-alliance-crisis

A February 2019 report authored by AMB Nick Burns and AMB Douglas Lute (Robert F. McDermott Distinguished Chair of the Department of Social Sciences at USMA) discussing the 70th Anniversary of NATO. 

 

Notes

If you have any comments, suggestions, or critiques, please feel free to reach out to us by email at SOSHresearchlab@westpoint.edu. We are always excited to hear from our listeners, cadets, SOSH alumni, and friends of the Department.

 

The views expressed on this podcast are those of the speakers, and should not be seen as reflective of the official positions of the United States Military Academy, the US Army, the Department of Defense, or any government entity.

Episode 15: Why NATO Matters, featuring Dr. Seth Johnston

Episode 15: Why NATO Matters, featuring Dr. Seth Johnston

March 15, 2021

In this edition of the podcast, SOSH Faculty Alumni Dr. Seth Johnston sits down to talk with us about the history and future of NATO: How did an organization originally intended as a defense alliance against Germany and the Soviet Union morph into a major player in Afghanistan? How has it evolved over time to remain relevant and important in international affairs? In what ways must NATO continue to adapt in order to counteract emerging threats in new domains such as cyberspace? We ask these questions and more.

 

Dr. Seth Johnston is an adjunct assistant professor in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army. His teaching and research focuses on European and international security and history. His book How NATO Adapts: Strategy and Organization in the Atlantic Alliance since 1950 was the 2017 volume of the Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science and became the #1 most requested book among practitioners at the NATO Library in Brussels. His full bio can be found at https://gu360.georgetown.edu/s/faculty/saj70 .

 

For more information on Dr. Johnston’s Research, check out the links below.

The Harvard Report on European Defense: https://www.belfercenter.org/sites/default/files/files/publication/EuroDefense_0.pdf

_How NATO Adapts_ book & remarks at NATO Headquarters: https://www.natolibguides.info/library/booktalk_hownatoadapts

 

 

CPT Antony Palocaren is an instructor of International Affairs in the Social Sciences Department at the US Military Academy, West Point. His research interests include great power competition and the role of alliances.

 

Send us your comments and suggestions to SOSHresearchlab@westpoint.edu .

 

The views expressed on this podcast belong to the speakers and should not be seen as the official positions of the US Military Academy, the US Army, the Department of Defense, or any government entity.

Episode 14: Restoring Thucydides and the Classics, featuring Dr. Jay Parker

Episode 14: Restoring Thucydides and the Classics, featuring Dr. Jay Parker

February 25, 2021

On this episode of the SOSH Podcast, COL (Ret.) Jay Parker and Dr. Scott Silverstone sit down to talk about Dr. Parker’s latest book, “Restoring Thucydides: Testing Familiar Lessons and Deriving New Ones.” The two discussed topics such as why Thucydides is so frequently misunderstood, whether the Melian Dialogue really was a validation of Realism as is commonly believed, and what the real lessons are that we should be drawing from classical scholars like Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Sun Tzu.

 

COL (Ret.) Jay Parker is an alumni of the USMA Social Sciences Department, having served as a Professor and the Director of International Relations and National Security Studies programs. He is currently the Major General Fox Conner Chair of International Security Studies in the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University. 

 

Dr. Scott Silverstone is a Professor of International Affairs at the United States Military Academy, and has been on the faculty at West Point since 2001.

 

If you have any comments, suggestions, or critiques, you can email us at SOSHresearchlab@westpoint.edu.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers, and should not be seen as reflective of the official positions of the US Military Academy, the United States Army, the Department of Defense, or any other government entity.

Episode 13: The Foreign Policy Toolkit

Episode 13: The Foreign Policy Toolkit

February 11, 2021

In this episode, we sit down with Dr. Anne Bennett and MAJ Thomas Dyrenforth to discuss the dynamics of civil-military cooperation and implementing foreign policy at U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. Dr. Bennett talks about her experience as a State Department Foreign Service Officer in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. Additionally, MAJ Dyrenforth discusses his service as an Army Foreign Area Officer and military attaché in Africa.

 

Dr. Anne Bennett is a Foreign Service Officer from the Department of State and is a Visiting Faculty member in International Relations at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Dr. Bennett holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan and a B. A. in Economics and Political Science from Bucknell University.

 

Major Thomas Dyrenforth is a U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer currently serving in AFRICOM. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and holds a Masters in International Policy and Practice from the Elliott School at George Washington University. Major Dyrenforth served as an instructor of military science at West Point and was the Assistant Army Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

Links:

More information on becoming a U.S. Foreign Service Officer: https://careers.state.gov/work/foreign-service/officer/ 

More information on becoming an Army Foreign Area Officer: https://www.army.mil/standto/archive/2019/07/12/index.html 

 

MAJ Dyrenforth’s recent publications on building cooperation abroad:

Building Enduring Partnerships in Africa: How The IMET Program Helps The United States Counter China In Africa,” Small Wars Journal, July 2020.

Do We Need to Work with Despots? The Question of Nondemocratic Leaders and Us Foreign Policy,” Modern War Institute, May 2020.

Strengthening U.S. Strategic Influence: How to Make IMET the Most Powerful Tool in the Security Cooperation Toolkit,” FAO Journal of International Affairs, January 2020.”

 

Reach out to us by emailing SOSHresearchlab@westpoint.edu.

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers, and should not be seen as reflective of the official positions of the US Military Academy, the United States Army, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, or any other government entity. 

 

Episode 12: West Point Cadets on Why They Chose SOSH

Episode 12: West Point Cadets on Why They Chose SOSH

February 2, 2021

On this episode, we talk to four cadets from the Class of 2021 on why they chose to major in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point. CDT Maxwell Myers (International Affairs Major and Grand Strategy Minor) moderates a panel featuring CDT Mikayla Bergin (American Politics Major and Terrorism Studies Minor), CDT Denton Knight (International Affairs Major and Grand Strategy Minor), and CDT Maggie Shi (Economics Major). They talk about what inspired each of them to choose to major in SOSH, what academic opportunities they’ve been able to pursue, and how their coursework and experiences prepare them for their future role as lieutenants in the United States Army.

 

Acronyms and Terms:

  1. Plebes = First Year Cadets at West Point
  2. Yuks = Second Year Cadets at West Point
  3. Cows = Third Year Cadets at West Point
  4. Firsties = Fourth Year Cadets at West Point
  5. AIAD = Academic Individual Advanced Development (Essentially an internship)
  6. White over Gray = Formal summer uniform for cadets
  7. 8TAP = Academic Course Schedule
  8. Branch Night = Event in the Fall where Fourth Year Cadets receive their commissioning branch
  9. SecDef = Short for Secretary of Defense

 

 

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers, and should not be seen as reflective of the official positions of the US Military Academy, the United States Army, the Department of Defense, or any other government entity.

Episode 11: Dr. Risa Brooks, MAJ Michael Robinson, and Dr. Heidi Urben on the Socialization of Civil Military Norms and Non-Partisanship

Episode 11: Dr. Risa Brooks, MAJ Michael Robinson, and Dr. Heidi Urben on the Socialization of Civil Military Norms and Non-Partisanship

January 28, 2021

On this edition of the SOSH podcast, we sit down with Risa Brooks, Michael Robinson, and Heidi Urben to discuss their upcoming paper on the socialization of civil-military norms for West Point cadets. How do cadets interpret the concept of civilian control and military subordination? Are Huntingtonian norms of separated spheres and apoliticism the correct framework to be teaching cadets? What’s the difference between an apolitical military versus a non-partisan military? We explore these questions and more.

This episode was originally recorded on the morning of January 22nd, 2021, before the confirmation of GEN Lloyd Austin as the Secretary of Defense.

Please email us a SOSHresearchlab@westpoint.edu with any comments, suggestions, and critiques.

 

Dr. Risa Brooks is the Allis Chalmers associate professor of political science at Marquette University, nonresident senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and adjunct scholar at West Point’s Modern War Institute.

MAJ Mike Robinson is an assistant professor of international affairs at West Point and an Army Strategist. He received his PhD in political science from Stanford University, where his research focused on civil-military relations and partisan polarization. 

Dr. Heidi Urben is a retired US Army Colonel and SOSH faculty alumni who is currently an adjunct associate professor in Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program and an adjunct scholar at West Point’s Modern War Institute.

The views expressed on this podcast are those of the speakers, and should not be seen as reflective of the official positions of the US Military Academy, the US Army, the Department of Defense, or any government entity.

 

Links to Works mentioned by our Guests

Risa Brooks. “Paradoxes of Professionalism: Rethinking Civil-Military Relations in the United States.”  https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/paradoxes-professionalism-rethinking-civil-military-relations-united-states

 

Brooks, Robinson, Urben. Article in Washington Post, Monkey Cage discussing the nomination of GEN Lloyd Austin for Secretary of Defense. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/12/09/biden-has-picked-retired-general-defense-secretary-heres-why-it-matters/

 

Brooks, Robinson, Urben. Article in Political Violence at a Glance discussing what the cadet survey can tell us about the GEN Lloyd Austin nomination. https://politicalviolenceataglance.org/2020/12/08/how-bidens-pick-for-defense-secretary-might-shake-up-civil-military-relations/

 

 

 

 

Episode 10: Dr. Michael Warner and LTC John Childress on “The Use of Force for State Power”

Episode 10: Dr. Michael Warner and LTC John Childress on “The Use of Force for State Power”

January 14, 2021

For this episode of the SOSH Podcast, Dr. Michael Warner and LTC John Childress talk about their new book, “The Use of Force for State Power: History and Future.” They discuss their model of analyzing how leaders can apply force against adversaries, both internally and domestically, and what that means for global trends today. How can we apply lessons from writers like Aristotle and Sun Tzu to modern cyber operations? How has the internet and big data damaged authoritarian regimes while also empowering them to better understand and manipulate their people? Are we in a new Cold War with China? What can cadets, students, and future policy makers learn from the classical theorists? These questions and more.

This episode was originally recorded in November 2020.

Dr. Michael Warner serves as a Historian in the U.S. Department of Defense and has written and lectured on intelligence and cyberspace history. He was also a Historian with the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

LTC. John Childress is a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who is an Instructor at the US Naval Academy. He has served as a ground commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and was an Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point from 2010-2014.

Dr. Hugh Liebert is an Associate Professor of American Politics in the Social Sciences Department, US Military Academy, West Point. He teaches courses in political philosophy, American politics, and civil-military relations.

Please send comments, critiques, and suggestions to soshresearchlab@westpoint.edu .

The views expressed on this podcast are strictly those of the speakers and are not reflective of the official positions of the US Military Academy, the United States Army, or the Department of Defense.

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