War on the Rocks
War on the Rocks
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On the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Ryan and Mike Kofman sit down to chat about where the war stands today and where things are heading. It is, to be candid, a pessimistic conversation. They cover the fall of Avdiivka, military leadership changes, Ukraine's mobilization challenges, Congressional dysfunction, European defense spending, and more.
Ryan and Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, chatted about, well, it's in his job title. They discussed North Korean intentions, American military posture, deepening cooperation between South Korea and Japan, Chinese military modernization, corruption in the Chinese military, and deterring an attack on Taiwan.
As the world grapples again with the dangers of nuclear weapons use, Aaron sat down with Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Heather Williams, the director of the project on nuclear issues and a senior fellow in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to discuss new nuclear dynamics, the meaning of deterrence, and debate about the future of U.S. nuclear weapons strategy. PS: We are hiring a membership editor. If you want to play a critical role in driving conversations and debates about national security, you should consider applying: https://apply.workable.com/war-on-the-rocks/j/2F3A361BCE/
As the largest war in Europe since World War II rages and as China rises, the U.S. Army is preparing for an evermore dangerous world with an ambitious vision. To learn more about this vision, Ryan paid a visit to Gen. Randy George, who has been serving as the Army's chief of staff since last September. They tackled a range of topics, from warfighting and professionalism in the Army, to modernizing training and acquisitions, and to lessons learned versus lessons identified. Gen. George reveals his thoughts on how the Army is learning from the war in Ukraine. And they also discussed a new Army initiative called "transforming in contact." PS: We are hiring a membership editor. If you want to play a critical role in driving conversations and debates about national security, you should consider applying: https://apply.workable.com/war-on-the-rocks/j/2F3A361BCE/
As Putin throws his forces relentlessly into the meat-grinder of Avdiivka, Mike and Ryan sort through the state of Russia's offensive there, Moscow's efforts to bleed Ukrainian air defense, and Kyiv's success on the Black Sea. They also discuss how Ukraine can defend and rebuild in 2024 so that it can go on the offensive again next year. Ryan and Mike also return to Europe's ongoing failure to muster the political will and resources needed to do its part. And listeners will be treated to a rant from Ryan on the turmoil over President Zelenksy's reported decision to fire Gen. Zaluzhny.
What is the value of a U.S. aircraft carrier? How are the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy held to financial account? And why does the Department of Defense keep failing its audit? Ryan sat down with Russell Rumbaugh, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management & Comptroller), to discuss the budget, its relationship with the comprehensive ship building review, the ongoing challenges with building more ships and submarines, and the need to ramp up munition production.
Should the tragedy of war with China occur, the Air Force will play a critical role in ensuring America is able to meet the challenges of conflict in the vast stretches of the Indo-Pacific. Gen. David W. Allvin, the 23rd chief of staff of the Air Force, joined the show to talk with Ryan about his priorities and how he is directing the Air Force to meet America's evolving national security needs by following through on the work of his predecessors. Listen to learn more about how Gen. Allvin views the future of training, logistics and refueling in contested airspace, the lessons from Ukraine, why he admires George C. Marshall, and more.
Nick sat down with Mike Kofman to discuss where the Russo-Ukrainian conflict stands at the start of 2024. They talked through the situation on the front lines, naval developments in the Black Sea and Russia’s cynical diplomacy, as well as Moscow’s growing munitions advantage and what went wrong with the Ukrainian offensive. Don't forget to listen to "All Quiet on the Second Front," an amazing new show that supported this episode to receive a promo code for a limited number of free War on the Rocks memberships.
In the last few days of 2023, the United States proposed that working groups from the G7 explore ways to seize $300 billion of Russian state assets. Given the news, we are re-releasing a members-only podcast with Philip Zelikow, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, which was recorded and released on Dec. 19, 2023. Aaron and Philip discussed the legal grounds to seize Russian assets held in Western banks, Moscow's potential retaliatory options, and whether a seizure would be escalatory. Consider joining our membership program today to listen to our slew of members-only podcasts and gain access to our daily newsletters.
Nick Danforth sat down with Steven Cook, Joyce Karam, and Faysal Itani to discuss how the war in Gaza will impact Israel’s relations with the Gulf and American interests in the Middle East. Among other topics, they debated the future of the Abraham Accords and what options, if any, exist for governing post-war Gaza.
TechCrunch Disrupt hosted Ryan and a top-notch panel for a conversation on the increasing importance of commercial stakeholders in the exercise of military power in and from space. It features John Plumb, the first assistant secretary of defense for space policy; Mandy Vaughn, the CEO and founder of GXO, Inc.; and Gen. James H. Dickinson, the commander of U.S. Space Command. Listen to their discussion, which was recorded in September. Thanks to TechCrunch for allowing us to use this recording.
Ryan and Mike Kofman discuss the state of the war before turning to various other issues including important tactical adaptations since the start of summer, why Washington's theory of its involvement in this war is fundamentally "unworkable" due to a lack of military observers in country, the various meanings of "stalemate," and the big picture for next year.
Nick sat down in Tokyo last week with Satoru Mori and Yasuhiro Izumikawa to discuss the evolution of Japan’s threat perceptions and defense planning. They also shared their thoughts on how Japan views the challenge posed by China, a potential Taiwan scenario, and the current conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.
The title says it all! If you missed episodes of our show "Net Assessment" over the summer and fall, you aren't alone. Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlow, and Christopher Preble join Ryan for a discussion about the show, about what's happening in the world, and what we can expect from Net when it comes back next month.
Continuing our series of conversations about issues at the intersection of defense and capital, Ryan chatted with Raj Shah of Shield Capital last month in San Francisco. From his service in the Air Force flying F-16s to his time as an entrepreneur to the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental to his current work in venture capital, Shah has been a critical player in trying to maintain and grow the U.S. military's technological advantages.
Ryan sat down with Mike to discuss the Russo-Ukrainian war, Russia’s effort to seize the initiative before winter begins, Moscow’s turn to North Korea for artillery shells, the challenges the Ukrainian military may face next year, the Biden administration’s failure to provide certain weapons to Ukraine quickly, and the state of the Russian military. Mike and Ryan close with a conversation about the need to be forward-looking about the conflict, given that the Russian defense industry has increased its rate of production, which will require the United States, its European allies, and Ukraine to plan for continued combat in the future.
Ryan sat down with John Amble of the Modern War Institute to unpack the challenges Israel is likely to face in Gaza; Israel's world-renowned urban warfare training facilities; comparisons with other battles in cities such as those that took place in the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Mosul; and how the initial Hamas attack overwhelmed Israel's preparations to defend itself. John and Ryan close by reflecting on how three Islamist militant groups have shocked the world and armies that were, on paper, better prepared than they were: the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Islamic State in Iraq, and now Hamas in Israel and Gaza.