Building the (Audio) Bridge

The Strategy Bridge podcast on strategy, national security, and strategic history.

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The host of The Strategy Bridge Podcast is P. R. Beckman, a television producer and unmanned aircraft pilot. He served in the U. S. Army from 1992-1995.


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The U.S. Colored Troops, Camp William Penn, and the Civil War with Donald Scott

In 1863, Camp William Penn was established outside of Philadelphia to train African American soldiers for the Union Army. By the end of the war eleven U.S. Colored Troops regiments were trained there and would go on to serve in Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and other states. In this episode of the Strategy Bridge Podcast we talk with Donald Scott about the U.S. Colored Troops and Camp William Penn. Scott is an assistant professor at the Community College of Philadelphia and a history columnist for Digital First Media, Inc. He is the author of the book Camp William Penn, 1863-1865.


A Theory of Tactics with Brett Friedman

While military thinkers have assembled many lists of the principles of war, they have not developed a theory of tactics. Brett Friedman set out to remedy that situation by writing the book he wished he had when he was a junior officer. In this episode of The Strategy Bridge Podcast he joins us to talk about his book On Tactics: A Theory of Victory in Battle. Friedman is a military analyst and Marine Corps Reserve officer.


Naval Irregular Warfare in Early America with Benjamin Armstrong

While naval historians and strategists have tended to focus on commerce raiding and ship-on-ship or fleet-on-fleet operations, naval history also includes many examples of wartime raiding and maritime security operations. In this episode of The Strategy Bridge Podcast we talk about naval irregular warfare in early America with Dr. Benjamin Armstrong. He is an active duty naval officer and Assistant Professor of War Studies and Naval History at the US Naval Academy. Armstrong is the author of the book Small Boats and Daring Men: Maritime Raiding, Irregular Warfare and the Early American Navy.


U.S. Army Professionalism and Preparations for War, 1815-1917 with J.P. Clark

Throughout the 19th century the U.S. Army alternated between a small regular force scattered at isolated forts and large forces built quickly to fight major wars. In his book Preparing for War, Dr. J.P. Clark breaks the officer corps down into four generations between 1815-1917, generations whose ideas about professionalism and how to prepare for war were shaped by their institutions, experiences and culture. Clark is an active duty military officer who has taught history at West Point and served as a strategic advisor at the Pentagon and British Ministry of Defense.


Wargaming and National Security Decision Making with Elizabeth Bartels

Over the past several years, there has been a renewed interest in gaming as a method to investigate national security decision making, explore policy and strategy options, and provide experience as practitioners. In this episode of The Strategy Bridge Podcast, we talk with Elizabeth Bartels about how wargames are designed, the differences in approaching gaming as an art and a science, and how games are used to think creatively about global competition. Bartels is a PhD candidate studying national security policy gaming at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. On her website, she provides more detailed information on her research on gaming methods as well as game designs and results.


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On J.C. Wylie’s “Military Strategy” with Nick Prime

In 1967, a short book called Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control was published by a naval officer named J.C. Wylie. Over the years the book developed a devoted following despite being generally neglected and is considered one of the important books on strategy to come out of the 20th century. In this episode of the Strategy Bridge Podcast we are joined by Dr. Nick Prime to talk about Military Strategy and its intellectual history. Prime recently completed a PhD at King's College London focused on Wylie and the control school of strategy. He was the Smith Richardson Predoctoral Fellow in naval and strategic studies with International Security Studies program at Yale University.


The Nigerian Civil War and the Biases of American Intelligence Analysis

From July 1966 to January 1970, Nigerians fought a civil war which led to the deaths of more than half a million people. Looking back at the American attempts to understand what was happening offers an opportunity to assess how intelligence analysts responded to a foreign policy challenge. In this episode we talk with Judd Devermont about the American intelligence community’s biases in its analysis of the Nigerian Civil War and its influence on American policy. Devermont is the director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has worked at the CIA, National Security Council, and in the office of the Director of National Intelligence. His article, “The U.S. Intelligence Community's Biases During the Nigerian Civil War,” was published in African Affairs. Devermont is the host of the podcast “Into Africa.”


Able Archer and the Nuclear War Scare of 1983

In 1983 Soviet leaders interpreted a series of American actions leading up to Exercise ABLE ARCHER as real steps toward a nuclear attack. In this episode we talk with Dr. Robert Hamilton about how Soviets and Americans misunderstood each other and almost started a nuclear war. Hamilton is an Associate Professor of Eurasian Studies at the U.S. Army War College and a retired Army colonel. He is the author of the article “ABLE ARCHER at 35: Lessons of the 1983 War Scare.”


The American Anti-War Movement During World War I

The decision to go to war is one of the most important a country can make. In a democracy that debate can involve activist groups both for and against the war. In this episode of the Strategy Bridge Podcast, we talk with Dr. Michael Kazin about the American anti-war movement during the First World War. Kazin is a professor of history at Georgetown University and a co-editor of Dissent Magazine. He is the author of War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914-1918.


The U.S. Navy as a Learning Organization with Trent Hone

As the United States industrialized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the U.S. Navy worked to adapt to a maritime environment shaped by the development of new technologies and ship types. This effort led to the redefinition of what it meant be a naval officer and new thinking about doctrine, tactics, and strategy. In this episode of The Strategy Bridge Podcast we talk with Trent Hone about how the American Navy transitioned from a traditional institution to a modern learning organization. Hone is the author of Learning War: The Evolution of Fighting Doctrine in the US Navy, 1898-1945.


African Soldiers in the German East African Colonial Army with Michelle Moyd

From the 1890s through the end of World War I, Germans recruited African soldiers to serve in the Schutztruppe, the colonial army in German East Africa. Known as the askari, they were drawn from various ethnic groups whose backgrounds made them desirable for military service in the eyes of the Germans. In this episode we talk with Dr. Michelle Moyd about the askari, their way of war, and what motivated them to act as agents of German imperialism. Moyd is an associate professor of history at Indiana University and a former U.S. Air Force officer. She is the author of Violent Intermediaries: African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa.


On Indian Foreign Policy with Dr. Aparna Pande

In this episode of The Strategy Bridge Podcast we talk with Dr. Aparna Pande about Indian foreign policy and how it has been influenced by ancient philosophers, the example of Indian empires, the institutions of the British Raj, and the ideas of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Pande is the director of the Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia at the Hudson Institute and the author of From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India's Foreign Policy.


The First Day at the Battle of Hue: One Soldier’s Story

When the Tet Offensive began on January 31, 1968, Bob Lauver had been in Vietnam for 15 months. He was a sergeant with G Battery, 65th Artillery Regiment, and he was in charge of a Quad 50 gun truck. The trucks were originally intended for air defense, but they found a new role in Vietnam in firebase support and as convoy escorts. In this episode, we follow Lauver through his experiences on the first day of the Battle of Hue, for which he would be awarded a Silver Star.


Politics & Strategy of the Mexican-American War

In the presidential election of 1844, James Polk campaigned on a policy of territorial expansion. After becoming president he used diplomacy and military force to implement his policy. In this episode we talk with Dr. Amy Greenberg about the politics and strategy of the Mexican-American War. Greenberg is a professor of history at Penn State University and the author of A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico.


On Iroquois War and Diplomacy with Timothy Shannon

In the 1600s and 1700s, the Iroquois were a Native American confederacy that exercised great influence in northeastern North America in their relations with the French, Dutch, and English colonists and the surrounding native peoples. In this episode we talk to Dr. Timothy Shannon about how the Iroquois waged war and engaged in diplomacy to advance their interests. Shannon is a professor of American history and the chair of the history department at Gettysburg College. He is the author of Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier. His most recent book is Indian Captive, Indian King: Peter Williamson in America and Britain.


The Rise of the Military Welfare State with Jennifer Mittelstadt

As the U.S. Army transitioned to the All Volunteer Force in the 1970s, it realized that it needed to provide a higher standard of living to its soldiers and their families to encourage recruitment and retention. The provision of these services was controversial, as it challenged concepts of military identity and became part of a larger political discussion within the U.S. about social welfare services. In this episode of The Strategy Bridge podcast, we talk with Jennifer Mittelstadt about her book The Rise of the Military Welfare State. Mittelstadt is a professor of history at Rutgers University and this year is the Harold K. Johnson Chair of Military History at the U. S. Army War College.


President Eisenhower's Project Solarium with Richard Immerman

In the months after Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated president, he initiated what became known as Project Solarium. Three teams were established to research different options for dealing with the Soviet Union and to present their findings to the president and his foreign policy and national security advisors. In this episode of The Strategy Bridge podcast we talk with Richard H. Immerman about Project Solarium and what we can learn from it.

Many Project Solarium documents are available at the State Department’s Office of the Historian website (between May-August 1953). Three especially interesting documents include:

  1. Notes Taken at the First Plenary Session of Project Solarium, Washington, June 26, 1953

  2. Memorandum by the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Cutler) July 16, 1953 (Eisenhower’s comments on Project Solarium)

  3. Summaries Prepared by the NSC Staff of Project Solarium Presentations and Written Reports

Immerman is professor emeritus at Temple University, a specialist in the Cold War foreign policy and intelligence history, and co-author of Waging Peace: How Eisenhower Shaped an Enduring Cold War Strategy.


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Culture, Politics, and Carl von Clausewitz with Vanya Eftimova Bellinger

The Strategy Bridge talks with Vanya Eftimova Bellinger about the influence of culture and politics on Carl von Clausewitz. 

Vanya Eftimova Bellinger is the author of Marie von Clausewitz: The Woman Behind the Making of On War and is Professor of Clausewitz Studies at the Army War College. Read more from Professor Bellinger here.


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On Strategy Education with Tami Davis Biddle

The Strategy Bridge talks with Dr. Tami Davis Biddle about strategy education, strategic thinking, and the importance of being a lifelong learner. 

Dr. Tami Davis Biddle is a professor of national security and strategy at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA. Read Dr. Biddle's monograph Strategy and Grand Strategy: What Students and Practitioners Need to Know and her research on air power in World War II, Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914-1945.