The US military and those of its allies are faced with the challenges of shifting focus toward great power competition while still maintaining the ability to counter threats on the fringes. Where does the Army fit in this new strategic landscape?

Season 1, Episode 9 of the Social Science of War podcast explores the role of land forces within great power competition. This episode focuses on two white papers released by the chief of staff of the US Army, one on competition and the second on multi-domain operations. Our two guests, including the chief of staff himself, discuss the implications for land forces within this strategic shift from counterterrorism to a national security strategy oriented toward great power competition. They define success in competition as preventing a major war and spend much of the conversation discussing the role of irregular warfare and shaping of the environment as ways to deter near-peer competitors.

General James C. McConville is the chief of staff of the US Army. A native of Quincy, Massachusetts, he is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and holds a master of science in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also a national security fellow at Harvard University. Gen. McConville has commanded at multiple levels, including a tour as commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and has held multiple joint staff positions.

Professor Peter Roberts is a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, where he was previously the director of military sciences. He has been a regular commentator for global media outlets, provided evidence to parliaments around the world on military matters, and advised UK and foreign ministers, military chiefs, and governments on conflict, force design, and the future risks from warfare. Peter also hosted the Western Way of War podcast. He remains a nonresident professor of modern warfare at the École de Guerre in Paris. Prior to joining RUSI, Peter spent twenty-three years in the Royal Navy as a warfare officer and served all over the world with a variety of militaries and agencies.

The Social Science of War podcast is produced by the Department of Social Sciences at West Point. Visit our website if you would like to be a student or teach in the department or if you would like to connect with any of our instructors based on their expertise.

Kyle Atwell created and is the host of Social Science of War. Please reach out to Kyle with any questions about this episode or the Science of War podcast in general.

Note: This episode was originally published in July of 2021 as an episode of the Irregular Warfare Podcast, another series in the Modern War Institute podcast family. You can find the original episode and access all other Irregular Warfare Podcast episodes here, or visit the Irregular Warfare Initiative website.

Image credit: Justin Connaher, US Air Force