In what ways do irregular warfare and counterinsurgency overlap? Is China engaged in irregular warfare against its adversaries? What are some of the failures of the wars and conflicts of the last twenty years and why did they occur? What do irregular warfare practitioners need to do to avoid the mistakes and to ensure they learn the hard-won lessons of the last twenty years?

In Episode 85 of the Irregular Warfare Podcast, our guests address these and other issues confronting irregular warfare thinkers and practitioners as a retrospective episode with two leading experts on the subject. The episode features David Kilcullen and John Nagl and makes references to recent pieces of their written work, including Nagl’s “Why America’s Army Can’t Win America’s Wars” and Kilcullen’s Blood Year.

Our guests first delve into issues of defining the overlapping terms “irregular warfare” and “counterinsurgency,” and continue by discussing some of the struggles encountered in seeking to measuring success and failure over the past twenty years. They then discuss how challenges in understanding the human domain affected the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They wrap up the episode with their thoughts and suggestions for irregular warfare practitioners and thinkers who may not have significant direct experience in the wars of the last twenty years. 

You can hear the full episode, hosted by Julia McClenon and co-hosted by Louis Tobergte, below. And be sure to subscribe to the Irregular Warfare Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss an episode!

Image credit: Sgt. Curt Cashour, US Army