Recent Podcast

The Modern War Institute has an exclusive interview with Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen Jr., 59th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy about his recent trip to Iraq and what it means for the development of future Army leaders.


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Recent Events

On May 2, MAJ DJ Skelton spoke to cadets about his experience of being wounded, his post-traumatic growth, and his journey to becoming dubbed “the most wounded commander in U.S. military history.”


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Recent Publications

In this Democracy and Security Journal article, Nelly Lahoud, Senior Fellow for Political Islamism, International Institute for Strategic Studies, Middle East, and Colonel Liam Collins, MWI Director, argue that the counter-terrorism (CT) community failed to anticipate the Islamic State.


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Upcoming Events

  1. Speaker Series: Eric Maddox on the Capture of Saddam Hussein

    September 6 @ 12:50 pm - 1:45 pm
  2. Speaker Series: Fred Kaplan

    September 19 @ 12:50 pm - 1:45 pm
  3. MWI Panel: Future Warfare

    September 20 @ 12:50 pm - 1:45 pm
  4. Speaker Series: Dr. Andrew Bacevich

    September 26 @ 12:50 pm - 1:45 pm
  5. Speaker Series: Sebastian Junger

    September 30 @ 12:50 pm - 1:45 pm

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War Books Profile: Major Gary J. Sampson, USMC

MWI Contributor Major Gary Sampson shares his top five books on warfare.

War Books Profile: Professor Steven Schooner, George Washington University, US Army (ret.)

George Washington University Professor Steven Schooner shares his top five books on warfare.

War Books Profile: Colonel Christopher Coglianese, US Army

Colonel Christopher Coglianese shares his top five books on warfare.

Re-Introducing WarBooks and Requesting Personal Profiles

The Modern War Institute is re-launching the WarBooks initiative.

Max Brooks’ Favorite Comics to Understand Conflict

MWI Non-Resident Fellow and New York Times best-selling author Max Brooks shares his recommendations and thoughts on the value of graphic novels to the study of warfare.

Countering the Russian Threat to the Baltics

MWI Adjunct Scholar Manos Karagiannis argues that the defenses being built by the Baltic States will prove largely ineffective and possibly counterproductive against Russia.

A Civil War Vignette that Explains Modern Civ-Mil Relations

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, MWI Contributor Dan Maurer details an episode during the Civil War between President Lincoln and General Grant that demonstrates the importance of trust in strong civil-military relations.

MWI and SCPME Screen ‘Kill Team’ to Over 500 Cadets

Last Friday evening, MWI and the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic (SCPME) co-hosted a panel and showing of the documentary “Kill Team.”

The Power of the Patch

MWI Contributor James King argues that the symbolic sharing of unit patches is a great first step in building a solid relationship between units.

Book Review: McNamara’s Folly

MWI Contributor Arnold Isaacs reviews Hamilton Gregory’s McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War.

Backing Down: Why Red Lines Matter in Geopolitics

Looking at the Second Lebanese War of 2006, MWI Contributor Albert Wolf examines the credibility of red lines and whether democratically elected leaders suffer greater “audience costs” if they do not carry out threats.

Want to Build a Better Proxy in Syria? Lessons from Tibet

Drawing conclusions from a Cold War-era insurgency in Tibet, MAJ Steve Ferenzi warns of the moral hazards of outsourcing the fight against ISIL in Syria to rebel proxy forces, in this War on the Rocks op-ed.

Strategic Landpower is Dead. Long Live Strategic Landpower.

MWI Non-Resident Fellow ML Cavanaugh argues that Strategic Landpower as a policy initiative is dead, but as a vital concept for military forces must live on.

War Books Profile: Major Nathan K. Finney, US Army

MWI’s Non-Resident Fellow Major Nathan Finney shares his top five books on warfare.

Discards: A Short Story

MWI Non-Resident Fellow August Cole, in this piece of short fiction, explores the question about the utility of battlefield technology and what happens to it, and people, after a conflict.

MWI Podcast: USMA Superintendent Discusses Preparing Future Leaders for Modern War

The Modern War Institute interviews Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen, Jr., 59th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy.

Book Review: How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon by Rosa Brooks

MWI Contributor Major James King reviews the newly released book How Everything Became War and Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon by Rosa Brooks.

Balancing Mexico’s Economy and Its Drug War

West Point’s Sergeant First Class William Rothrock discusses Mexico’s fight against drug trafficking organizations.

Modern War Institute Cadets and Faculty Tour Sri Lanka Battlefield

The Modern War Institute takes a team of faculty and cadets to Sri Lanka to study the final operations of its decades-long civil war.

MWI Podcast: What Makes Violent Actors Tick? with Dr. Benedetta Berti

MWI sits down with Dr. Benedetta Berti, researcher, author, and TED speaker to discuss the rise of violent non-state actors and how security professionals should understand them.

How the CT Community Failed to Anticipate the Islamic State

In this Democracy and Security Journal article, Nelly Lahoud and MWI Director Liam Collins argue that the counterterrorism (CT) community failed to anticipate the Islamic State.

Charting a Course for our Professional Writing

BJ Armstrong encourages military personnel to write to move the military profession forward and to improve military service and our nation’s security.

Cyberwarfare a Double-edged Sword for Authoritarian States

MWI Contributor Robert Potter argues that authoritarian states are more vulnerable to the impacts of cyberwarfare than democracies.

Studying, Thinking, and Practicing National Security

MWI Non-Resident Fellow Nathan Finney makes the case for the fusion of history, political science, and policy making.

Book Review: The Iron Major Survivor Guide

West Point’s LTC Erik Kober reviews the new book “The Iron Major Survival Guide.”

Good News From Afghanistan: Kabul’s Economic Reforms Take Shape

MWI Non-Resident Fellow Javid Ahamd analyzes Afghanistan’s recent economic reforms for Foreign Affairs.

Video: Opening Shock: Four Combat Jump Veterans Tell Their Stories

West Point’s Center for Oral History and in conjunction with the Modern War Institute team up to discuss combat airborne operations.

Japan’s July 10 upper-house election: implications on US national security

MWI Non-Resident Fellow Nori Katagiri discusses the implications of the recent Japanese elections.

Proxy Blowback in the Revolutionary War? The Curious Story of Jane McCrae and the Battle of Saratoga

Major Steve Ferenzi discusses the Battle of Saratoga, social movement theory, and impacts of the Jane McCrae story.

From Gettysburg to Sri Lanka

ML Cavanaugh discusses studying war in Gettysburg compared to modern battlefields such like those found in Sri Lanka.

MWI Podcast: America’s War for the Greater Middle East, Dr. Andrew Bacevich

MWI sat down with Dr. Andrew Bacevich to discuss his new book “America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History”.

Tanks Don’t Belong on Main Street

Jillian Kutner argues that if police departments have access to military-style weapons, as they did in Dallas, it should be strictly monitored and dependent on need.

It’s time for the military to take pandemics seriously

MWI Non-Resident Fellow ML Cavanaugh argues for the military to take pandemics seriously.

The Softer American

MWI’s John Spencer argues the downward trend of American health and fitness is a national security emergency.

The World Can’t Afford a Turkey at War with Itself

In this USA Today column, MWI’s Lionel Beehner argues that Turkey must not close itself from the West in light of the terrorism attack at the airport in Istanbul.

Yes, Sergeant, Actually That West Point Cadet Does Outrank You

Scott Faith argues that contrary to popular belief West Point and ROTC cadets outrank NCO’s according to Army Command Policy.

The Piracy of War Ideas

MWI’s Non-Resident Fellow ML Cavanaugh discusses the importance of critical and creative thinking using the analogy of pirates.

In Search of Seamless Interoperability in Korea

Writing in War on the Rocks, MWI Non-Resident Fellow ML Cavanaugh assesses the R.O.K.-U.S. Combined Division, which was created to improve tactical interoperability to counter North Korean aggression.

World Refugee Day and Modern Warfare

MWI’s Lionel Beehner argues for more focus on and preparation for conflicts ignited by the world’s refugee populations.

Max Brooks on What to Read on Modern War

MWI is rolling out a new feature, where we list our faculty and fellows’ top books on modern war and warfare. Here are MWI Non-Resident Fellow Max Brooks’ top picks.

Imagining Zika Virus as a Terror Weapon

Writing in the New York Daily News, MWI Non-Resident Fellow Max Brooks asks: What if Zika, instead of originating in a Ugandan jungle, had been cooked up in a lab?

MWI Podcast: War and Recovery with the Most Wounded Commander in U.S. Military History

MWI’s John Spencer sat down with Major DJ Skelton to discuss the second battle of Fallujah, how he was wounded, his recovery, and post-traumatic growth.

To Fight Zika, Send in National Guard

In this Foreign Policy essay, MAJ ML Cavanaugh argues that the United States has a unique capability to tackle epidemics like Zika virus: the National Guard.

Beyond Half-Measures: Influencing Syria’s Political Order through Non-State Proxies

In this Small Wars Journal essay, Major Steve Ferenzi argues that proxy selection in Syria will have a profound impact on the post-war political order: who wins, who loses, and how they govern.

Gone, Baby, Gone:  Two Hacks to Stay Connected While Serving Overseas

ML Cavanaugh dispenses some helpful tips on how to stay more connected to loved ones back home during deployments.

The State of Military Leadership in the 21st Century

MWI non-resident fellow Nathan Finney led a team of authors and editors in the creation of a volume on Military Leadership in the 21st Century, published on The Bridge.

The Efficacy of Landpower: Landpower and American Credibility

In their award winning article, MWI Non-Resident Fellow Michael Hunzeker and Dartmouth College Post-Doctoral Fellow Alexander Lanoszka argue the important relationship between landpower and American credibility.

Strategic Irregular Warfare Options to Counter Russian Aggression

In this Small Wars Journal article, MAJ Steve Ferenzi describes how to utilize irregular warfare to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The Importance of Distance in Modern Warfare

If battles are to be decided by soldiers operating a continent or ocean away from the killing zone, we must come to redefine what constitutes soldiery and warfare, argues CDT John Govern.

27 = 300K: The Calculus of European Strategic Deterrence

Major Matt Cavanaugh discusses the U.S. challenge of deterring Russia in Europe while being significantly outnumbered.

What the siege of Sarajevo can teach us about Aleppo

In this Washington Post oped, MAJ Mike Jackson and Lionel Beehner argue that the modern history of siege warfare, as evidenced in Sarajevo, suggests a long war of attrition in Aleppo, not an all-out provocative attack to end the war.

Function over Form: The Case for Keeping the ‘Warthog’ over the F-35

CDT Cole Bourland argues in that the US Air Force should not phase out the A-10 ‘Warthog’ with the F-35.

Preparing for the ‘Pure Risk’ of Tomorrow’s Smart Minefields

Max Brooks imagines the second and third order effects of the massive use of drones to inspire further study and debate on the real-world consequence of a post-drone-war world.

To Maintain Spheres of Influence, U.S. Must Engage

John Radcliffe argues that accepting China and Russia as partners will require the U.S. to relinquish its belief in a global American sphere-of-influence.

Most Wounded Commander Discusses His Road to Recovery

On May 2, MAJ DJ Skelton spoke to cadets about his experience of being wounded, his post-traumatic growth, and his journey to becoming dubbed “the most wounded commander in U.S. military history.”

USMA Cadets Debate ‘A Strategy to Combat ISIS’

On 04 April 2016, the USMA Cadet Debate Team debated whether the United States should deploy conventional ground forces to conduct combat operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The Drone Debate We Are Not Having

Neania Buehler argues for a comprehensive strategy for the military use of drones, robots, and other versions of semi or fully autonomous systems.

The Coming Robot War – And It’s Not With Robots

MWI Non-Resident Fellow and author of World War Z, Max Brooks argues the economic, social, and other chain reactions that could lead to a robot war.

A Song of Ice and Fire…and Walls?

MWI’s Lionel Beehner discusses border zones, walls, and those who patrol them through the lens of Game of Thrones and research on primatology.

For Memorial Day: How Kiwis Remember

Major Matt Cavanaugh provides reflections from his experience at an ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day Dawn Service at the Wellington (New Zealand) Cenotaph on April 24, 2011.

MWI Podcast: The Story of the Battle of Wanat

MWI sat down with Medal of Honor recipient SSG (ret) Ryan Pitts to discuss the lessons from the Battle of Wanat.

Medal of Honor Recipient Recalls Harrowing Firefight in Wanat, Afghanistan

Medal of Honor recipient SSG (ret) Ryan Pitts spoke to cadets about the lessons of the Battle of Wanat, Afghanistan.

Strategists: The Next Generation

MAJ Matt Cavanaugh discusses five key characteristics which will differentiate the next generation of strategist, each tied to tidal trends in the strategic environment that will drive the next 35 years.

The Challenges of Ranger School and How to Overcome Them

Major John Spencer provides details on the challenges of the U.S. Army’s Ranger School and recommendations on what Soldiers can do to prepare for them – or not.

How to Prevent the Army’s ‘Brain Drain’

West Point Cadet Bradley Baker argues that exit surveys for all officers leaving the Army with 8 or fewer years of service is a critical first step in understanding and eventually countering lower junior officer retention rates.

Horse Soldiers in Afghanistan and the Cost of War

On 6 April 2016, the Modern War Institute hosted LTC (R) Jason Amerine for a MWI Speaker Series event on his experiences in Afghanistan.

Kalyvas and Balcells Discuss ISIS and Typologies of Violence

On April 8, the Modern War Institute invited Dr. Stathis Kalyvas of Yale and Dr. Laia Balcells of Duke to discuss the question: Is ISIS a group of revolutionary insurgents or a band of terrorists?

How Smartphones will Reshape the Modern Battlefield

Armies of the future that leverage smartphone innovations will change the face of war and reshape the modern battlefield, argues LTC Ernest Wong of West Point’s Army Cyber Institute.

MWI Hosts Inaugural Sandhurst Conference

In addition to this week’s Sandhurst Competition at West Point, on Monday, April 4, the Department of Military Instruction (DMI) held its inaugural Sandhurst Conference, drawing hundreds of cadets and officers from across the globe.

MWI Podcast: Zombies and Global Security

The Modern War Institute talks to Max Brooks, author of World War Z, about how a zombie plague can help us understand current and future security issues.

Strategic Agility: Theory and Practice

Modern War Institute Distinguished Chair, General Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., USA (Ret.), presents the idea of strategic agility as a method to mitigate risk by finding better ways to use our available means.

On Growing Strategists: Beating Back the Credentialists and the Ageists

Major Matt Cavanaugh takes a critical look at proposed frameworks for developing military strategists.

‘Ironman’ or Not, Exoskeletons May Soon Have Military Benefits

West Point Cadet Ethan Millsap argues for patience and alternative uses for exoskeletons on the battlefield.

The ‘Inception’ Theory of Military Innovation

We have many choices if we want to define and think about military innovation. Major Dan Maurer proposes that we can think of it better by thinking of Leonardo DiCaprio.

Taking American Soldiers Hostage: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Major Matt Cavanaugh writes that it won’t be long until an American soldier is taken hostage on a battlefield by an enemy like North Korea.

MWI shows Documentary “Pech River Boys: Tales from Afghanistan”

The Modern War Institute (MWI) showed “Pech River Boys: Tales from Afghanistan” and hosted a panel discussion with members of the cast and crew on Friday, March 25.

MWI Scholar Interviewed in PBS Documentary on ISIS & War in the Middle East

MWI’s Lionel Beehner is interviewed in the new PBS “Great Decisions” series of documentaries on ISIS, the Kurds, and war in the Middle East.

MWI Podcast: The Evolving US Template to Global Security – Eric Schmitt

MWI talks with NYT reporter Eric Schmitt about the US use of military power and how effective its larger operational template is in handling global security threats.

Same $h*t, Different War: The Curse of Combat Experience

Major Matt Cavanaugh warns of military leaders that try to solve the problems of new wars by pursuing solutions that have worked for them in past wars.

What is Army Doctrine?

Major John Spencer argues for an emphasis on the definition of Army Doctrine and the advantages it provides to the profession of arms.

Communicating ‘Success’ in the War on ISIS

Captain Curtis Kimbrell questions the measures of success in the war against the Islamic State and makes recommendations on U.S. strategic communication efforts.

MWI Podcast: The Once and Future Mission – Michael O’Hanlon

MWI and Michael O’Hanlon from the Brookings Institution discuss the current state of the Army, the future for the Army and US land forces, and how junior leaders and security professionals can prepare.

On Strategy: More Than Just a Bridge

Major Matt Cavanaugh challenges the common metaphor of strategy as a bridge.

Un-forgetting Afghanistan

MAJ Steve Ferenzi argues it is time to evaluate the post-9/11 Afghan state-building experiment and determine how best to influence its future trajectory in order to secure US national interests and achieve some measure of regional stability.

Stars and Stripes, Forever?: Why New Zealand’s Flag Choice Matters

MAJ Matt Cavanaugh investigates the relationship between a nation’s flag and it’s Soldiers through the lens of New Zealand’s current debate over adopting a new flag.

Mission Command: Addressing the cause and effect of leadership challenges

Major Paul Lushenko argues the need for integration of the mission command leadership philosophy by continuing to emphasize leader development.

Al-Qaeda Does Governance Too

Major Steve Ferenzi argues that the United States must seriously consider the implications of al-Qaeda’s rebel governance approach for US national security.

The Dark-Side of A Hate-Fueled World

ULCA Cadet James Moeller contemplates how Soldiers should respond to the visceral and tangible evil of the world through the lens of Star Wars.

Is PACOM Preparing for the Right Security Challenges?

Major Paul and Jon Lushenko argue that PACOM’s efforts to rebalance the security policy in Asia-Pacific has only fostered initiatives to help confront traditional threats despite the prevalence of human security challenges.

A Greater Challenge is Needed for Cyber Forces

Cadet Niccolo Iacovelli argues that cyber forces should have a greater role and a grand challenge should be setup to prove the need.

MWI Podcast: Are We Headed for Limited War? Jakub Grygiel Explains

MWI’s CPT Jake Miraldi sits down with Dr. Jakub Grygiel, from Johns Hopkins University, to talk about the concept of limited war is influencing the security situation in Europe and what NATO is doing to counter.

How to Win the War of Words

CPT Kimbrell argues that the United States isn’t fighting effectively in the information environment and current bureaucratic fixes are not enough, but there is hope if the Global Engagement Center can deliver on its stated implementation plan.

Call for Applications: MWI Adjunct Scholars and Non-Resident Fellows

The Modern War Institute (MWI) at West Point cordially invites all interested parties to submit applications for its Adjunct Scholars and Non-Resident Fellows program.

“Follow the Yellow Brick Wall: The Reasons Why Military Officers Do Not Write”

MAJ Matt Cavanaugh argues for military officers to contribute to the military profession through writing.

West Point Cadets Participate in Crisis Simulation Exercise at Columbia University

West Point Cadets traveled to Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) to participate in their 2016 Crisis Simulation Exercise.

Is the Powell Doctrine dead and gone?

Major Mike Jackson argues whether the Powell Doctrine is still a useful or even relevant learning objective for junior officers.

Book Review: The Psychology of Innovation in Organizations

Captain Brad DeWees reviews the book The Psychology of Innovation in Organizations.

Wanted: Bullet Stopping Breakthroughs

Major John Spencer challenges the science world with stopping a bullet in flight.

Row Well and Die

Major Matt Cavanaugh argues against the slogan “Row Well and Live” for members of the Army Profession.

The Exoskeleton Will Change Future Combat

West Point Cadet Jess Weece believes exoskeleton suits have the potential to change the battlefield.

An Army of Sound Mind and Body

The Modern War Institute’s Major John Spencer argues for action to prevent future...

On Killing for Peace

MWI Fellow Matt Cavanaugh argues the premise of killing for peace.

Storm Surge?  The Tides of War Roll Back In

Guest MWI contributor Dr. Frank Hoffman argues the levels of conflict are increasing and that a more contested era of geopolitics is gathering.

Soldier-Driven Bullet Innovation, Lighter and More Punch

West Point Cadet Ross Downum details advancements and innovations in bullets for Army Soldiers.

West Point and Other International Teams Wage War Against ISIS Online

University teams from across the globe, including West Point, competed in an inter-agency contest to find innovative ways to combat online extremism.

A Portuguese Rationale for Why We Fight

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s...

Designing a Digital Crystal Ball

MAJ Mike Jackson discusses how using digital models known as synthetic prototyping can help improve the Army’s scenario-based futurist planning.

No, We Have Not Lost the War in Iraq

If our own revolutionary history is any judge, we still have not lost the war in Iraq, argues CDT LT Jack Schaaf.

Combating Bystanders to Radicalization

CPT Jolene Ayres writes that the passive observer of the radicalization process has to transition from bystander to active participant in order to contribute to the counter-radicalization narrative.

The Enemy-Informed After Action Review

MAJ Matt Cavanaugh says we should look more at our enemy’s performance and capabilities when the Army does its After Action Reviews – something straight from the pages of Harvard Business Review.

It’s About Readiness, Not Societal Issues

Major Nolan Lasiter argues the Army should focus on its lack of readiness, not all the hoopla about women in combat, sexual harassment, transgender rights, gay rights and all of the other societal issues we face today in the military.

Why Percentages Matter—And Why We Should Ignore Them

Major Dan Maurer writes that the “one-percent” rhetoric, intended as a tribute and note of appreciation, is a subtle call-to-dissatisfaction and undermines the profession of arms.

Real Strategists Don’t Use Smartphones

Major Matt Cavanaugh writes that military strategists should not cling to digital devices like smartphones in order to stay focused and more aware of one’s terrain.

Can Silicon Valley Push the Pentagon to Innovate?

The Modern War Institute (MWI) and Center for the Study of Civil-Military Operations (CSCMO) hosted a panel on Thursday, January 21, to discuss recent moves by the Pentagon and the secretary of defense, Ashton Carter, to reach out to Silicon Valley to find ways to spur greater military innovation.

Eric Maddox Discusses the Hunt for Saddam

Eric Maddox spoke to about 700 cadets and relayed his experience as an Army interrogator in Iraq. He carried out countless interrogations over a span of three months in 2003 when Saddam was on the run and the insurgency was in its infancy.

Right Question, Right Tools

I assumed my position as the platoon leader of an airborne infantry platoon in late...

Was Machiavelli Right About Innovation?

What was Machiavelli’s insight for military innovation? Humans are keenly aware of loss, according to Air Force’s CPT Brad DeWees, while only vaguely aware of gain. Negative consequences associated with changing the status quo are magnified, while the benefits of change are ignored.

The Questions of War: Mobilizing the Arsenal of Ideas

Why do bad things happen to good people? Everyone asks this question at some point....

War Books Profile: Lieutenant General (Ret.) Mark Hertling, US Army

MWI Adjunct Scholar Lieutenant General (Ret.) Mark Hertling shares his top five books on warfare.


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