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Listen to the 'Command and Control' podcast by Peter Roberts

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A podcast about military command and control

The 'Command and Control' podcast, hosted by Dr Peter Roberts and sponsored by Systematic, explores how our understanding of C2 needs to flex with modern requirements. It includes high-profile guests from NATO, Netherlands, UK, US, and Australian Armed Forces as well as thinktanks and industry experts to debate hot topics such as AI and multi-domain integration.

Here below, you see an overview of all the available episodes of the 'Command and Control' podcast – and further down on this page, you will find short introductions and direct links to each of the episodes.

Listen to the episodes

  • Episode 18: The Civ/Mil part from a NATO Sec Gen
  • Episode 17: C2 Systems – how much has changed?
  • Episode 16: Naval C2
  • Episode 15: Not the heroic model of decision-making
  • Episode 14: Delegation to the point of discomfort
  • Episode 13: You cannot beat winter
  • Episode 12: The devolution of command
  • Episode 11: Air C2
  • Episode 10: NATO C2: How to improve?
  • Episode 9: Joint All Domain C2 – A primer
  • Episode 8: Question time – live Q&A at DSEI London
  • Episode 7: Confidence and the initiative
  • Episode 6: Artificial Intelligence in C2
  • Episode 5: Familiarity ≠ Trust
  • Episode 4: A New Orders Process
  • Episode 3: What makes a great commander?
  • Episode 2: Adaption under fire – a Ukraine case study
  • Episode 1: The quest for certainty
  • Trailer

In this section, you can read about and listen to all the available episodes of the 'Command and Control' podcast. In addition, you will also find the podcast on a number of podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. See the list of platforms here.

Episode 18: The Civ/Mil part from a NATO Sec Gen

Pic of a man called Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Former NATO Sec Gen Jaap de Hoop Scheffer talks about what it takes to make effective command relationships work at the highest level of Pol/Mil C2: the tensions between domestic agendas and international obligations, decision-making in NATO, and how to achieve coherence and agreement in matters of war. 

The conclusion, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that the level of co-operation between politicians and their military counterparts is not something that can be scripted or forced: it depends more on personalities, behaviours, and shared interests than on orders and formal hierarchies. Reflecting on successes and failures, Jaap makes for compelling listening.

Episode 17: C2 Systems – how much has changed?

In providing commanders with the ability to command and control, computerised systems have been in use for more than 50 years. Their evolution from siloed systems inside individual units, moving across task forces, then to covering theatres has helped operators and HQ staffs orchestrate military means with increasing efficiency and lethality.

The change in the last decade – according to Andrew Graham – has been in moving from enabling these domain-to-domain C2 structures to talk to each other, to one that has to integrate the data from each platform system to be seem by everyone else.

Now that idea - based on an assumption of ubiquitous and constant connectivity - has evolved again. How can you operate a C2 system when to transmit data might spell certain death?

Episode 16: Naval C2

Vice Admiral Martin Connell, Second Sea Lord of the Royal Navy

The captain of a warship has, sometimes, godlike omnipotence. Does this mean that naval command and control has some unique characteristics that need to be better understood in order to be integrated into the ‘modern’ rubric?

Vice Admiral Martin Connell, Second Sea Lord in the British Royal Navy, talks to Peter about what’s unique about naval C2, and whether the education and development of leaders in the Royal Navy is good enough.

Episode 15: Not the heroic model of decision-making

What makes a good and a great military leader? The myth of a divine, born leader is very popular, but we actually know better than that. Science has given us the evidence to understand what traits and characteristics imbue a person with the skills and experience to become a great leader. For this, we actually know how to select them based on the very different requirements in wartime and peacetime. It is also popular to talk about leadership and followership as two distinct functions; the term 'servant leader' has become fashionable amongst military professionals as an attempt to delineate the boundaries between these two groups, yet still keep the hierarchy. Expert analysis is harder to find, however – for that we need to turn to science and a human psychologist.

In this episode, podcast host Peter Roberts talks to Sarah Chapman Trim about making the least-worst decision (as opposed to the best one), the fallacy of the divine general, how we can train better leaders, and the dual-agency model of leadership. Her research paper on the topic (perhaps better understood with the title ‘Social identity as Alchemy’) is available here.

Episode 14: Delegation to the point of discomfort

Many medium powers have been struggling to keep pace with the US military as it reimagines how it will undertake command and control over the coming decade. For those in Canada, the challenge is extremely pertinent: shared coastlines, integrated C2 at NORAD, conjoined airspace and territorial seas, a long and unfenced land border, and the block between the US homeland and Russian forces in the Arctic. Canada also faces pressing concerns in trying to balance resources between the challenges being faced to their West as well as to their East and North.

Deputy Commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, Major General Darcy Molstad, talks to podcast host Peter Roberts about the various challenges, tensions and frictions, and how Canada has been adapting. Underneath all of the strategic discussion lies an enduring truth about what commanders face in the future, and what will be required of them: delegation to the point of discomfort.

Episode 13: You cannot beat winter

In this episode, podcast host Peter Roberts engages in a discussion with Major General Karl Engelbrekston, former chief of the Swedish Army who retired in June 2023. Command and control is clearly different when operating in environmental and geographic extremes; the High North (well inside the Arctic Circle) exemplifies those conditions. How to command and how to exercise control over military forces in those extremes leads to an interesting conversation about the realities of delegation and empowerment.

Given Karl Engelbrekston's experiences with multi-national forces too, there are some interesting takeaways from this discussion that get to heart of modern C2. Most usefully, this conversation allows us to hold a mirror to some of the rhetoric about contemporary and future C2 made in other military circles. Sobering stuff.

Episode 12: The devolution of command

The best people to talk about command and control are inside the USMC, the same institution that gave us the current C2 taxonomy back in the 1980s. While USMC force design 2030 forges towards a decentralised command structure and an aggregated control hierarchy, the pragmatism of the Corps has nested capabilities at lower levels that would allow a much more flexible approach. In contrast to other forces which retain very structured C2 architectures, the USMC seems to be comfortable with a degree of ambiguity that would make others tremble.

In this episode, podcast host Peter Roberts talks to Colonel Lester (Ray) Gerber from USMC Pacific Forces Command about the philosophy of C2 in the Corps, about the nature of control now and in the future, and about the centrality of the human component. Much of the latter part of the discussion is focused on partners and allies: should we be ready for less command and more co-operation in a revised C2 dynamic fit for the fight tonight? Much to ponder on here.

Episode 11: Air C2

Command and control in the air domain has always been very different to that of other domains. Much more control, command execute in different ways, at different levels, and all captured in the phrase "Best picture has....".

How much has been forgotten from former experiences of air C2 in major contests and competitions? How much are we willing to relearn? How much of the differences in domain-specific C2 will be lost as we amalgamate and integrate structures towards a beautifully informed single commander or system, a la Enders Game?

Podcast host Peter Roberts talks to former senior RAF officer, Paul Kendall, about our understanding of air power in the West, Supremacy and Superiority, and a contested electronic environment without the freedoms that have been hallmarks of Western military operations since the 1990s.

Episode 10: NATO C2: How to improve?

Having spent the week at the NATO C2 Centre of Excellence in The Hague, talking C2 with some impressive people, this episode captures a 'hot wash' between host Peter Roberts and Colonel Mietta Groeneveld, Director and Commander of the C2COE. Given this was recorded only 90 minutes after a fairly intense 3 days, the episode does not cover all the takeaways, but it gives a flavour about some of the themes talked about and some of Mietta's thoughts too.

Episode 9: Joint All Domain C2 – A primer

In 2019, the US military Chiefs of Staff determined that C2 really had to adapt to suit the modern operating environment. The decision came after the publication of a report on Russian C2 and counter C2 capabilities and – on that basis – the programme on Joint All Domain C2 (JADC2) was started.

Currently, the US is spending between $1-2BN per year on it, having scoped the basic requirement and pushed activity forward with remarkable speed. US DoD is progressing rapidly through the experimentation phase but the programme has shifted scope and shape over the past 5 years – moving from a plan to enable the Joint Force Commander with a long screwdriver to something that enables a more dynamic and rapid kill chain.

In this first episode of the new series, Senior Military Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Rafael Lopez explains that while the programme may still suffer from “Principle Agent Problems”, the future looks pretty bright.

Episode 8: Question time – live Q&A at DSEI London

In this final episode of the series, we are bringing the political, military, and industry expert views on modern C2 – recorded live at DSEI London 2023. Join our expert panel of Royal Navy Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Andrew Burns, Commandant Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Major General Zac Stenning of the British Army, and Group Senior Vice President of Defence at Systematic Andrew Graham discussing the challenges and opportunities of modern command and control.

Among the themes discussed are: What will C2 look like in the future? Will C2 survive in its current form? What’s the role of the commander in the future? And do we train and educate our future commanders well enough?

Episode 7: Confidence and the initiative

Warfare rarely exists within one domain. Combined arms, multi-domain integration and allied partnering makes a common BMS essential. Maj Gen Zac Stenning of the British Army discusses how the West must work together on technology to ensure continued relevance.

Episode 6: Artificial Intelligence in C2

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the latest buzzwords to hit defence. Yet, what do they really mean? Former Chief of the Royal Danish Air Force Henrik Dam and Brigadier General (Rtd) Henrik Sommer separate fact from science fiction and explain what industry can really provide to militaries.

Episode 5: Familiarity ≠ Trust

Trust has always been a central concept in military command and control: it can be based on a ‘Band of Brothers’ construct or something a bit more complex with allies and partners. Yet this human-to-human rubric is not the same when we consider the concept of trust as it applies to human-machine trust. Or is it? Peter talks to Christina Balis, who wrote a paper in June 2022 about human-machine trust, about how we should be thinking about this – something that has been missing from the discussions as more C2 systems are added into military forces. What emerges is a demand for less coders (or software savvy commanders), and more about diverse education sets and inquisitive minds. Especially if the philosophies of delegated and mission-command are to remain more than rhetoric.

Episode 4: A New Orders Process

It is not just the sharing of a common operational picture among allies and own forces that changes the game. It is now the additional functionality – speed, usability, integration of feeds, and ability to overcome degraded comms that is a necessity in today’s era of peer warfare argues Lieutenant General (Rtd) Ben Hodges of the US Army in this latest episode of Command & Control.

Episode 3: What makes a great commander?

The nature of war is unpredictable for a myriad of reasons – not least because it is a human endeavour. But how much does personality and politics play a part on battlefield outcomes? Professor Mike Clarke, former Head of RUSI explores how exemplary command and control can overcome this ever-present factor.

Episode 2: Adaption under fire – a Ukraine case study

If the Ukraine conflict has taught us anything, it is that cutting edge, available technology tips the balance in a big tech, peer war. Listen to Dr Jack Watling of the Royal United Services Institute discuss how Ukraine’s combination of effective, multi-level C2 with a trusted Battle Management System is at the heart of their battle-winning strategy.

Episode 1: The quest for certainty

As C2 technology becomes ever more sophisticated, the successful meshing of this with human intent is vital in contemporary warfare. General Mick Ryan (Rtd) of the Australian Army discusses the command and control pinchpoints where human endeavour ends and that of the machine begins.


The big questions: What is it all about, why is it important, and why now?

The show is about military command and control, sometimes considered the panacea of battles and campaign, and what it might look like for the fight tonight and the fight tomorrow. The hypothesis is that command is human and control has become increasingly technical – and that that the growth of C2 systems calls for consideration on how to effectively synchronise between the key functions of command and control.

About the podcast

The 'Command and Control' podcast aims to open up the conversation about command and control – or C2 – which is often over looked in the race to acquire more technology, arms and personnel, but is a necessity when it comes to battlefield strategy.

The present era of a return to peer warfare and high-end warfighting amid a technological boom has resulted in a blend of human decision-making and cutting-edge technology. But how does this really look? Can AI really substitute for human factors? And how will dynamic control shape military command in the future. Check out the 'Command and Control' podcast to find out!

The podcast host: Dr Peter Roberts

Dr Peter Roberts is the host of the 'Command and Control' podcast. He is both a Royal Navy veteran and the former Director of Military Sciences at the Royal United Services Institute.

In addition, he is a regular global commentator on military affairs and the host of a popular defence podcast called Western Way of War.


The podcast episodes and release

The ‘Command and Control’ podcast is planned to have 8 episodes.

The first episode is released on June 2023, and the last one will be a live Q&A session at DSEI London on September 12 2023.

Where to find the podcast

You can find and listen to the 'Command and Control' podcast right here on this landing page – and on a number of podcast platforms, including: Amazon Music/Audible, Apple Podcasts, Audacy, Boomplay, CastBox, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, JioSaavn, Libsyn, Player FM, Resso, Spotify, Stitcher.

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