Editor’s note: MWI is proud to partner with West Point’s Department of Social Sciences to bring listeners the second season of the Social Science of War podcast. The first episode of the second season has just been released. Each episode this season will bring together guests from both academia and the practitioner and policy worlds to apply cutting-edge scholarship to real-world challenges. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss an episode!

How is increased nonstate actor access to drones impacting war today? That is the difficult and fundamental question that we explore in the very first episode of Season 2 of the Social Science of War podcast. Dr. Nakissa Jahanbani is joined by a panel of guests with deep expertise and experience on the subject, and together they examine an especially complicated set of challenges surrounding Iranian drone proliferation to proxies—and its implications for current conflicts ranging from the Middle East to Ukraine.

The conversation begins with a broad description of how violent nonstate actors adopt weapons technology, with a focus on unmanned aircraft systems. Building on this foundation, our guests discuss state actors’ weapons proliferation to nonstate partners. This includes a detailed look at how Iran sends weapons to proxies such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis. Listeners will also hear a practitioner’s account of engaging with Iranian-backed actors and weapons systems during real-world operations. The conversation concludes with a discussion of prevention and interdiction of weapons proliferation.

We’re joined by three guests on this episode. Retired Lieutenant General Ken Tovo concluded his distinguished Army career as the commanding general of the US Army Special Operations Command. His varied assignments in special operations units and with NATO included several deployments to Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sierra Leone. Dr. Kerry Chávez is a political science instructor at Texas Tech University specializing in international conflict, security politics, and strategies, with a focus on emerging technologies. She is also a nonresident research fellow with the Modern War Institute, and her dataset on violent nonstate actor drone adoption is considered a cornerstone in understanding quantitative trends on this phenomenon. And Mr. Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he focuses on Iranian security and political issues. He is the author of “Arsenal: Assessing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program.”

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 the Social Science of War. Hosts on Season 2 of the podcast are Dr. Nakissa Jahanbani, Dr. Alexandra ChinchillaLieutenant Colonel Sean McKnight, and Major Gabriel Royal. Please reach out to the podcast team with any questions about this episode or the Social Science of War podcast in general.

Image credit: Fars Media Corporation, via Wikimedia Commons