Podcast – SOF and the Future of Irregular Warfare

Future of Irregular Warfare

Two best-selling authors have a conversation about the future of irregular warfare and implications for policymakers, practitioners, and academics. August Cole and P.W. Singer have recently collaborated on a book – Burn-in: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution. Both authors, singly and together, provide action-packed fiction in short story and book form to describe the future of conflict.

The authors use fiction to explore how technology, social media, autonomy, artificial intelligence, weaponization of information, cyber, and other changes to society will have an impact on irregular warfare in the future. They explain how a suite of technologies available to the ‘strategic corporal’ will be integrated into the future operating environment.

Part of the discussion is about how Russia is once again a ‘great power competitor’. It isn’t because of their large conventional army, aircraft carriers (or lack of), and advanced combat aircraft – rather it is about other factors that the U.S. is not quite currently competing with. Also discussed is China’s centralized approach to artificial intelligence (AI) . . . and a comparison is made with the United State’s approach to AI (not focused or integrated).

Singer and Cole talk about how the special operations community will need to incorporate new technologies into its doctrine, organization, equipment, and training. SOF will continue to play a role in the future of irregular warfare and needs to stay abreast with the rapid technological revolution that is affecting society, economics, politics, and national security. The future SOF operator will need to be able to understand and leverage the coming technological changes of the future.

The Future of Irregular Warfare, Irregular Warfare Podcast, Modern War Institute at West Point, August 28, 2020, 52 minutes.


August Cole is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Brute Krulak Center of Innovation and Creativity at the Marine Corps University and Senior Fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He is an author of numerous short stories about the future of conflict.

P.W. singer is a Strategist at New America and Professor at Arizona State University. He conducts research about the future in the national security environment. Dr. Singer has also been proclaimed an official Mad Scientist for the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

Photo: From the podcast. Image credit: Cpl. Matthew Callahan, US Marine Corps.

Burn-in: A Novel of the Real Revolution.

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