Citizen Soldiers: Service and Sacrifice with Wendy R. Anderson | Episode 59

Wendy R. Anderson, Managing Director of Military and National Security Initiatives at Strong Eagle Media, joins me to discuss her company’s amazing new documentary Citizen Soldier and her previous work inside senior levels of the Department of Defense and other components of the federal government. We discuss service, sacrifice, and leadership from both civilian and military perspectives.

Citizen Solider follows the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from stateside training through combat, and loss, in Afghanistan. I highly recommend it.

LZ Grace: A Place for Warriors to Heal | Episode 37

This week Lynnette Bukowski joins me to discuss LZ Grace Warriors Retreat. Lynnette, and many volunteers, have transformed a 38 acre farm in Virginia Beach into a place for members of the special operations community and first responders to decompress and recharge. Lynnette shares the story of her husband, a Navy SEAL, and we discuss some of the unique challenges the she faces in supporting who are accustomed to serving, and often suffering, in silence.

The episode closes out with another update on Russia, and their involvement with Hezbollah, from William Tucker.

Video Games, Virtual Reality, and Conflict with Robert Rath | Episode 32

In episode 32 of Covert Contact freelance writer Robert Rath joins me to discuss video games and the very real violence that surrounds us. Gaming, especially in the first person shooter genre, reflects our view of combat but it can shape our views on the subject as well. Video game inspired technology is also increasingly leveraged by the military for training systems – and weapons control systems as well. The lines between real and simulated combat are starting to blur. There are obvious parallels in the emergence of drones but rapidly evolving virtual reality capabilities and robotics are going to make gaming and warfare, not to mention reality itself, change in ways that are difficult to predict but sure to be profound. This is a fascinating topic and we just scratched the surface in this hour. But rest assured that we will be revisiting some of the subjects covered here for much deeper dives in future episodes of the show.

Robert has written on the subject extensively and I highly recommend some of his recent work on the topic including Ground Zeroes Gets Intelligence Right, Modern Warfare is a Comforting Lie, Military Expert P.W. Singer Predicts the Video Game Wars of the Future (Playboy – But now safe for work), and Pikachu and Pepper Spray: Hong Kong’s Geeky Protest Art.

Turkey Shot Down a Russian Jet – Where Do We Go From Here? | Episode 27

Putin called today’s downing of a Russian Su-24 by a Turkish F16 a “stab in the back” but it this was certainly not an unproved attack. In fact it follows countless warnings from Turkey that violations of its airspace (and aggression against its interests on its border) will not go unchecked. Terrorism analyst and counterintelligence pro William J. Tucker joins me again for a look at this event, the circumstances that got us here, and where we might be going.

Related Links
All episodes featuring William J. Tucker
Follow William J. Tucker on Twitter

War and the New Normal: Phil Walter on Life After War | Episode 23

In episode 23 Phil Walter joins me to talk about his transition from the the battlefield, to home, and eventually into a role where he has the opportunity to work on national security policy.

I’m thankful to Phil for sharing his personal story because I think it might help others who are finding it difficult to adjust to life after war. But even if you aren’t a veteran, and even if you aren’t struggling, there’s something to learn here.

Phil has served in the military, the intelligence community, and the inter-agency. His written works are catalogued on Storify and archived at www.philwalter1058.com. I highly recommend them if you are at all interested in national security issues. You can follow him on Twitter @philwalter1058 and he is a member of the Military Writer’s Guild.

Phil’s “War and the New Normal” series that was featured on this podcast was originally published on the blog Point of Decision.

If you are enjoying Covert Contact, and would like to see content like this continue to be produced, please subscribe and learn how you can support the show.

The views expressed here are those of the author alone and do not contain information of an official nature.

The Navy SEAL Who Killed Osama bin Laden and the Heroes You’ll Never Know | Episode 8

In episode eight I look at the case of Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill and the culture that lures men and women like him out of the shadows and into a world of fame, ego gratification, and financial reward. I examine the role that military leadership and our culture at large plays in chipping away at the notion of quiet professionalism and share some thoughts about how we can change course. There is also a call from Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the University of Maryland’s Laboratory for Computational Cultural Dynamics. Phillip shares some thoughts on social media and its impact on national security, politics, and the collection of intelligence.

Robots and the Future of Warfare: The Advantage Might Not Lie with the Inventors | Episode 6

In episode 6 I look at the evolution of unmanned platforms and speculate about the impact that they could have on warfare. The technology is evolving faster than our appreciation for the complications it will bring so while there will be countless positive benefits there will also unquestionably be a dark side to it all. Smarter systems are better, and spare innocent lives, but does that mean that less ethical actors could exploit less capable platforms to kill indiscriminately? Does that give them an advantage?

Blogs of War contributor William Tucker also called in to the Covert Contact voicemail line and shared some thoughts on how the U.S. intelligence community should be allocating its resources.