Editor’s note: This podcast episode was created in partnership with the One CA podcast and the Civil Affairs Association.

For more than a year now, the world has watched as Ukrainian cities have become almost unrecognizable, transformed by the destruction of the ongoing war triggered by Russia’s invasion. Bucha, Mariupol, Kherson, Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Bakhmut—these are just a few among many cities that, when the fighting ends, will face the monumental task of rebuilding. To better understand what that task involves, we’re returning to an Urban Warfare Project Podcast episode originally recorded in 2021. In it, John Spencer is joined by retired Colonel Leonard DeFrancisci. A Marine Corps officer, he led a civil affairs detachment during the Second Battle of Fallujah and participated in the massive coalition effort to rebuild the city after the intense fighting and major destruction of the urban battle.

In the conversation, DeFrancisci explains those efforts to rebuild Fallujah, which had been nearly destroyed in the fighting of late 2004. He describes the priorities of the rebuilding effort, its complexity, and a variety of the individual projects he and his Marines undertook to support the restoration—and repopulation—of the city. His story highlights the special capabilities civil affairs forces bring to postconflict situations. Of particular relevance today, the conversation is rich with lessons that will be important when the challenge of rebuilding Ukrainian cities comes.

You can listen to the discussion below or find the episode on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyTuneIn, or your favorite podcast app. Be sure to subscribe, and if you’re enjoying the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, please take a minute and leave the podcast a review or give it a rating!

Image credit: Lance Cpl. James J. Vooris, US Marine Corps