Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular as a source of Professional Military Education. They work very well for auditory learners, they are accessible outside the Defence network and they can be listened to in down time – during jogging or the commute to work, making it a great way to add extra learning into an already busy schedule.
Here are the best military podcasts that we have come across for 2020, along with some of their best episodes from 2019.
Principles of War
Our podcast focused on a range of subjects this year, including Long Tan and a series on the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, looking to broaden our horizons with a more joint apporach. Keep an eye out for our work on Jutland this year, along with more battles from New Guinea and the including the Australian Divisional landing at Lae and then we will start our Falklands podcast series.
Here are our 3 most popular episodes.
Episode 39-The unwomanly face of war and the moral centre of gravity Do yourself a favour and listen to Svetlana Alexievich’s book, The Unwomanly Face of War.
Episode 46 – The Battle of the Bismarck Sea A land battle, fought at sea and won in the air, the Battle of the Bismarck Sea shows the effect that innovative air power can have in a campaign. We spend time looking at GEN Kenney, Commander of the USAAF Fifth Air Force and the way that he fostered a culture of Innovation and Creativity, a necessity given that lack of resources that he had to conduct the Air War in the SWPA.
Episode 40 – Long Tan Mission Analysis We discuss how we managed to put a Coy in contact outnumbered by a force ratio of 20:1. What decision making and factors played into this situation? The series, mostly with interviews from Dave Sabben, look to understand how D Coy, once in the situation, held their ground and managed to fight their way out of a tactical situation that is so unlikely that we never train for it.
War Room is the online journal for the United States Army War College. It crowdsources content with the intent of featuring innovative and provocative articles and podcasts that explore the challenges in national security and defense.
Jacqueline Whitt, Andrew Hill, and Con Crane on the “lessons” of history – this one is a three-part episode, the first episode is here: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/podcasts/so-what-does-history-teach-us-anyway/
Ron Granieri with Eirik Kristoffersen, Chief of the Norwegian Army on strategic leadership and alliances: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/special-series/senior-leader-perspectives/allies-are-more-than-friends/
Bridging The Gap Between The Civilian World And The Military Jacqueline Whitt w/ Jennifer Mittelstadt on bridging the civ-mil gap in PME.
The Modern War Institute Podcast
The Modern War Institute at West Point generates new knowledge for the profession of arms, enhances the West Point curriculum, and provides the Army and the Nation with an intellectual resource for solving military problems. The MWI Podcast is a covers a range of operational and strategic topics.
The Spear Podcast is also produced by the Modern War Institute. It is an excellent podcast discussing individual battles from a PL and COY level. A much more tactical podcast with some excellent learnings from contemporary combat.
The Strategy Bridge is a non-profit organisation focused on the development of people in strategy, national security and military affairs. Hosted by P. R. Beckman, it covers a wide range of topics with some excellent guests. Some of the podcasts in strategic history are especially interesting.
Here are 3 episodes from 2019 that we think are worth a listen.
War On The Rocks
Hosted by Ryan Evans, War on the Rocks is a platform for analysis, commentary, dabate around foreign policy and national security through a realist lens. The podcasts are produced with subject matters experts with deep expertise and experience in the subjects they cover, making the episode excellent learning material.
Here are some of the best episodes for 2019:
The Wavell Room is our British contribution to the list. It is a not for profit that is run by volunteers. It is a great way to get an understanding for some of the contemporary issues that the British military is facing.
These are 3 well worth while listens from the Wavell Room.
Australian Naval History Series
The Australian Naval History series is produced by UNSW and the Australian Naval Institute. Listening to these podcasts helps non naval types get an appreciation of the capabilities and limitations of Naval power and it’s integration into joint campaigning. There is also some fascinating historic stories that are told here as well. I listened to the episodes on the Coast Watchers (a naval unit!), as background to the Battle of the Bismark Sea series.
The Dead Prussian
Produced by Mick Cook, the Dead Prussian was the first Australian PME podcast. Mick predominantly interviews authors and lecturers and covers a wide amount of ground with a lot of interesting learnings.
Here are 3 great episodes from 2019.
US Army Heritage and Education Centre
The United States Army Center for Heritage and Education makes available contemporary and historical materials related to strategic leadership, the global application of Landpower, and U.S. Army Heritage to inform research, educate an international audience, and honor Soldiers, past and present.
Here are 3 of their best 2019 episodes.
No list of PME podcasts and audiobooks would be complete without mentioning Bruce Gudmmundsson excellent RADIO PME website. It is an extensive resource listing almost all of the PME podcasts and audiobooks available. Use the site with caution because even cursory browsing will generate many hours of podcast episodes to listen to! Click on the Welcome Button, select current or historic PME and look for the topic that you are after. . Dr Gudmundsson is the author of On Infantry, On Artillery and Stormtroop Tactics, was a USMC Reservist for 20 years with 8 years of active duty, rising to the rank of Major. He is a MWI Adjunct Scholar.