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In this episode, John Spencer is joined Brigadier General Meir Finkel. An armor brigade commander in the Second Lebanon War, he is the current head of research and former director of the Dado Center for Interdisciplinary Military Studies / IDF J3. He explains the evolution of the Israel military approach to fighting in dense urban areas and describes several of the unique organizations, tools, and tactics the Israeli military has developed specifically to meet the many challenges of urban warfare—including the critical lessons the Israeli military has learned on the essential need for a combined arms approach that brings together mechanized infantry, armor, and engineers to enter contested urban environments.
Social media has played a sizeable role during the war in Ukraine. Not only are various platforms being used for information campaigns by both sides, social media tools like Twitter are the way many people around the world are watching the war unfold. Almost immediately after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Walter Lekh, a Ukrainian doctor living in the United States, organized a Twitter Space—an audio livestream where any Twitter user can listen in—featuring news and expert commentary about the war. The Walter Report has been streaming without interruption ever since—twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He joins host John Spencer to discuss how social media like his Twitter Space features in the character of warfare, why he launched the Walter Report, and specifically how social media overlays on and intersects with the urban component of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
In this episode, guest host Jayson Geroux is joined by retired Lieutenant Colonel Louis DiMarco, a professor of military history at the United States Army Command and Staff College. Dr. Di Marco is the author of the influential 2012 book Concrete Hell: Urban Warfare from Stalingrad to Iraq. In the conversation, he discusses how he became interested in urban warfare and describes the urban warfare history course he developed and continues to teach at the Command and Staff College. He also highlights a number of historical urban battles while also noting the themes that have consistently featured throughout urban operations history.
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it has been apparent that Moscow's strategic goal is to remove the current government and replace it with a Russian-friendly regime. Because cities are the economic and political centers of power for nations, it is no surprise that the capital city of Kyiv has been the decisive objective from the very start. The fight for Kyiv is the only battle that matters in this war. In this special episode, John Spencer discusses what the battle will look like. He breaks down the key steps Russia or any other military force would have to take to achieve its objectives in this city attack and the tactics and approaches Ukrainian defenders are likely to adopt to stop the attackers from succeeding. He also provides important historical context—how past large-scale combat operations in cities might help predict the future of the battle for Kyiv.
From October 30 to November 8, 2020, a large-scale battle took place as both sides in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War fought for control of the city of Shusha. A year later, John Spencer traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh to study the war and the details of the battle—from the unique qualities of the urban and surrounding terrain to the tactics of both the defenders and attackers. In this episode, he shares a short lecture he delivered based on his research during that visit.
Learning from Mumbai

Learning from Mumbai


On November 26, 2008, ten Pakistan-based terrorists simultaneously attacked and sieged multiple sites across the megacity of Mumbai, India. The world watched in horror as the attacks terrified the city for almost three days. Often referred to as India’s 9/11, the attacks were planned and orchestrated seemingly with the precision of a military special forces unit. In this episode, host John Spencer presents a short lecture on the attacks, describing some of the features of the megacity of Mumbai and detail the planning and execution of the attacks, before highlighting the urban warfare lessons that can be extracted from the event. The lecture was recorded during a presentation to the NATO Science and Technology Office's "Basics of Complex Modern Urban Functions and Characteristics" course.
What do urban warfare experts have on their Christmas lists? In this episode, Colonel (CA) John Spencer is joined by Major Jayson Geroux and Mr. Stuart Lyle for a holiday-themed conversation about the tools and capabilities they really hope Santa brings. Maj. Geroux is a member of the directing staff of the Tactics School at the Canadian Army’s Combat Training Centre and Mr. Lyle is researcher at the UK-based Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
On the morning of March 7, 1988, three members of the Palestine Liberation Organization hijacked a bus full of Israeli women traveling to work near the town of Dimona, Israel, in what has become known as the “Mothers’ Bus attack.” Maj. Gen. Avshalom Peled was at the time a platoon commander in the Yamam, an elite Israeli counterterrorist organization that specializes in close-quarters battle, and took part in the rescue operation. He joins this episode and describes his role in the now famous hostage rescue. He also shares some of the many lessons Israeli police learned from the operation.
In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Richard Norton, aprofessor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College and a retired US Navy commander. Dr. Norton discusses his research on what he calls "feral cities"—those in which the state has lost the ability to maintain the rule of law yet remain a functioning actor in the greater international system.
Observers watched the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War closely, searching for indicators of the character of warfare on tomorrow's battlefields. The lessons extracted have covered advanced technology and unmanned platforms, proxy dynamics, the ongoing relevance of armor, and more. But some of the most important lessons have received much less attention. They center around the increasingly unavoidable importance of combat in cities and are drawn principally from the battle for the city of Shusha—a fight that arguably decided the outcome of the war. Listen as John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at MWI, explains why.
In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Brig. Gen. Robert Wooldridge. He is the Deputy Commanding General for Support of the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard—which just held the Army’s first urban warfare planners course. Listen as he explains the gaps that drove the division's leaders to create the course, the challenges in designing the course, the lessons they learned executing the course, and what comes next as the team works toward institutionalizing standard operating procedures for urban operations planning.
In this episode, the second in a two-part series, John Spencer continues his conversation with retired Brig. Gen. Yom Tov Tamir. In the previous episode, he reflected on his long career as an armor officer in the Israel Defense Forces, in which he held positions from tank commander to division commander. Part two picks up with a description of his experiences during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, including the last battle of the war, the Battle of Suez, which ended disastrously. Based on his experiences, he shares his his thoughts on the role of armor in urban warfare and complex layered defenses. The conversation ends with an explanation of two popular IDF Armored Corps mottos: “The tank is iron but the man is steel,” and “The man in the tank wins.”
In this episode, the first in a two-part series, John Spencer is joined by retired Maj. Gen. Yom Tov Tamir. He served a long career in the Israel Defense Forces as an armor officer holding positions from tank commander to division commander. In 1973, he was an armor battalion commander during the Yom Kippur War. In part one of the conversation, he reflects on his career as an armor officer—from a secret trip to Germany in 1964 to learn about American tanks, through his service in the 1967 Six-Day War, to Yom Kippur War. The discussion lays the foundation for part two, which covers the role of tanks in urban warfare, including drawing lessons from the 1973 Battle of Suez City.
In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Anthony King, a professor of war studies at the University of Warwick and the author of a new book, Urban Warfare in the Twenty-First Century. He talks about his book, including an important conclusion: because of discernible trends in urbanization, weapons development, and the size of modern military forces, Western militaries will be unable to avoid fighting in cities in the future.
In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Ze’ev Orenstein, director of international affairs at the City of David Foundation. He explains the history of ancient Jerusalem and the discovery of the City of David—the lost and original city of Jerusalem and a place of importance to billions of people today. Over its four-thousand-year history, the city has been deeply shaped by a variety of forces, including urban planning, warfare, and underground operations—the conversation even includes the story of one of the earliest recorded episodes of offensive underground warfare. As you'll hear, the lessons gathered from the history of this ancient city have a range of modern urban operations implications.
In this episode, John Spencer is joined by retired Colonel Kevin Felix. He served 30 years in the US Army, with his last assignment as chief of Army Capabilities and Integration Center's Future Warfare Division. He describes the Army’s different approaches for thinking about and studying the future of warfare, including major efforts beginning in 2014 to focus on global urbanization, including by incorporating it into wargames like Unified Quest. The discussion highlights the complex challenge of predicting the future, developing warfighting concepts informed by those predictions, and ultimately making decisions about what the future of warfare will require of the US Army.
Urban Breaching

Urban Breaching


In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Garner, an instructor for the Urban Mobility Breacher Course, which is a part of the US Army Engineer School. As a tactical task, breaching can be challenging. That becomes especially true in the unique conditions of dense urban terrain. Staff Sgt. Garner explains how the course trains soldiers to understand and overcome those challenges, and the importance of having urban breaching capabilities in units.
Policing a Major City

Policing a Major City


In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski to discuss urban policing. In the conversation, Chief Niski explains the basics of urban policing, how the size of the police force and frequency of patrols in dense urban areas is determined, technologies that can be used to assist in urban policing, and recommendations for the military about advising police forces.
Rebuilding Fallujah

Rebuilding Fallujah


A few episodes ago, John Spencer spoke to retired Colonel Leonard DeFrancisci about his Marine Corps civil affairs detachment's role during the Second Battle of Fallujah. He joins the Urban Warfare Project Podcast once again to continue the conversation, this time describing the massive coalition effort to rebuild the city after intense fighting and major destruction of the urban battle.
During the recent outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, many of the Israeli strikes targeted Hamas tunnels. That raises a range of important questions. What advantages do subterranean environments lend to combatants? What military challenges do tunnels pose? More broadly, why is underground warfare occurring increasingly frequently? Dr. Daphne Richemond-Barak—author of the book Underground Warfare and creator of the International Working Group on Subterranean Warfare—joins this episode to discuss these and other questions about the subterranean dimension of urban warfare.
Comments (1)

Brandon Miles

see, I read the descriptions of some of these podcasts and they make me think "it would be good, were it not based entirely on a narrative following lockstep with Western mainstream media" which is, of course, in lock step with the state department and intelligence agencies, which are in lock step with the defense industry and Wall Street, because that's who owns the US government and gives them their narratives and goals. "To install a Russian-friendly" government not only just doesn't match up with any of the stated goals that anyone familiar with this conflict would recognize, but is literally projecting what the US did to Ukraine in 2014, which started and fueled much (not all) of the conflict that culminated in what's happening today. although, it would be obvious that having a Russian friendly leader in Ukraine would likely solve much of the goals of Russia, to dumb everything down to that is at best short sighted and naive, and at worst a blatant misrepresentation during a time in which all opposing narratives are being censored all through the West. I'll give it a listen anyways, though, with the hopes that it's simply short-sighted, because it sounds more like actual tactical strategy than political strategy

Mar 16th
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