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The Spear

News • Government

The Spear is a podcast from the Modern War Institute at West Point. It aims to explore the combat experience, with each episode featuring a guest who tells a detailed and personal story, describing the events and exploring topics like decision-making under stress and what it feels like to be inRead more

Popular episodes

Ambushed in Baghdad

Jan 5 • 01:09:14

On August 11, 2004, Staff Sgt. John Borman’s platoon ventured out on what was supposed to be a short counter-mortar observation mission. Except that day, instead of targeting Camp War Eagle, the Mahdi Army targeted John’s observation post with accurate indirect fire. To top it off, John wasn’t even supposed to be in Iraq that day. He was supposed to be in Wisconsin at his ...

Fire in the Skies Over Baghdad

Dec 22 • 48:27

In this episode, retired US Air Force Col. Kim Campbell joins to share a story from 2003. A career A-10 pilot, her squadron was deployed to the Middle East at the beginning of the war in Iraq. During a mission, she and her flight lead in another A-10 responded to a call for air support from a US unit engaged with Iraqi troops. On her last rocket pass, she felt and heard an...


Dec 8 • 49:10

In early 2019, Eric Kahle was a first sergeant assigned to an aviation maintenance company bound for Forward Operating Base (FOB) Dahlke in Afghanistan—also known as “Rocket City.” It was not long before rockets became a common occurrence for the soldiers of Delta Company and Kahle was mentally transported back to his first combat deployment in 2006 to Iraq. That deploymen...

Shot in Baghdad

Nov 24 • 01:09:45

In the fall of 2006, Rory McGovern was a company fire support officer assigned to a combined arms team operating in the area around Abu Ghraib, Iraq. The day after Christmas, he was on a security patrol in support of a local sheikh’s Hajj send-off party when a shot rang out. McGovern had been hit. He shares the story of that encounter with the sniper and subsequent recover...

Mosul Gets Hot, Part 2

Nov 10 • 34:22

On December 21, a suicide bomber detonated inside the dining facility on Forward Operating Base Marez outside of Mosul. Twenty-two people were killed in the blast, including Captain William Jacobsen, Matt Sacra’s company commander. Not long after, Sacra was wounded for the first time while serving as an advisor to the Iraqi Army. Following a lengthy recovery, Matt was woun...

Mosul Gets Hot, Part 1

Oct 27 • 53:20

In late 2004, Mosul was becoming more and more unstable. Matt Sacra, a Stryker platoon leader, and his soldiers deployed there to help quell the growing insurgency. On November 10–11, as the city's security continued to be undermined by fighting on its streets, the platoon found itself in the midst of heavy combat—an experience that, as Matt described, left an indelibly ma...

A Horse Soldier Reflects

Oct 15 • 53:57

In late 2001, Scott Neil was a US Army Special Forces soldier whose team was among the first US forces in Afghanistan—the legendary Horse Soldiers who led some of the opening operations in the war there, just weeks after the 9/11 attacks. While theirs is a well-known story, Scott’s military service extends well beyond that experience. In this episode, he reflects on a twen...

The Decision-Making Crucible of Combat

Sep 22 • 54:28

In 2005, Major General Pat Roberson was the ground force commander for a combined special forces task force in Iraq given the task of melding a battalion of Iraqi forces and a battalion of Kurdish commandos into the newly formed Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) Brigade. One night, the ISOF Brigade and Roberson’s Green Berets conducted an air assault into Salman Pak f...

Ambush in a Restive Valley

Sep 9 • 59:37

In this episode, host Tim Heck is joined by Lt. Col. Blake Schwartz. In 2009, Schwartz was a Special Forces team leader deployed in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan. Enemy fighters in the Langar valley, a restive area astride a vital road network, were a particular target for Schwartz’s soldiers. Schwartz attempted three times to enter the valley with his forces. On his final...

Battle for the Mosque

Aug 25 • 48:44

On April 10, 2003, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment (A/1/5) was tasked with searching a mosque in Baghdad for Saddam Hussein. The previous night and into that morning, A/1/5 had fought a running gunfight to capture a presidential palace where Marines were wounded and the company gunnery sergeant was killed. Despite the losses the company had suffered, A/1/5 wa...

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