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Soldier of Fortune Advisory Committee: Meet John Spencer, Urban Warfare Expert

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Note from publisher Susan Katz Keating: Today marks the third installment of the new Advisory Committee here at Soldier of Fortune. The members are people I trust and admire, and who I have known over the years. I think of them as SOF’s very own Magnificent Seven. They all are veterans who have made significant marks in the military milieu. They are doers and thinkers, and much respected. Today: meet urban warfare expert John Spencer.

I first encountered John Spencer when his urban warfare defender advice to Ukraine went viral, and morphed into The Mini-Manual for the Urban Defender. Published after Russia invaded Ukraine, the booklet has been translated into 12 languages. The manual is a good read – it’s hard to resist delving into chapters such as, “Attack, Attack, Attack,” and “The Ambush.” The manual is designed for those who fight a just war, and includes nuggets such as, “Use concrete; it is your greatest defensive resource,” and, you should drink water because “you cannot fight if you’re dead.” I have taken careful notes, in case my city ever comes under attack.

On another note, I am pleased to say that Spencer served with my dad’s old unit, the California Army National Guard.

John Spencer

A former U.S. Army Ranger instructor, Spencer has reported on his observations from inside war-torn Ukraine, and assessed the situation first hand. His official bio, below, describes him as follows.

John Spencer is an award-winning scholar, professor, author, combat veteran, national security and military analyst, and internationally recognized expert and advisor on urban warfare, military strategy, tactics, and other military related topics. Considered one of the world’s leading expert on urban warfare, he served as an advisor to the top four-star general and other senior leaders in the U.S. Army as part of strategic research groups from the Pentagon to the United States Military Academy.

He wrote three books: Understanding Urban Warfare, (Howgate Publishing, 2022), Connected Soldiers: Life, Leadership, and Social Connections in Modern War (Potomac Books, 2022), The Mini-Manual for the Urban Defender (John Spencer, 2022).

READ MORE from John Spencer on his visit to war-torn Ukraine.

Spencer currently serves as the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies with the Madison Policy Forum. He recently served as the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, Co-Director of the Urban Warfare Project, and host of the Urban Warfare Project podcast. He served as a colonel in the California State Guard, and was assigned to the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard as the Director of Urban Warfare Training.

READ MORE from John Spencer on the Battle of Fallujah

Serving over twenty-five years in the active Army as an infantry soldier, Spencer has held ranks from Private to Sergeant First Class, and Second Lieutenant to Major. His assignments as an Army officer included two combat deployments to Iraq as both an Infantry Platoon Leader and Company Commander, a Ranger Instructor with the Army’s Ranger School, a Joint Chief of Staff and Army Staff intern, fellow with the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group, and Co-Founder, Strategic Planner, and Deputy Director of the Modern War Institute at West Point. While teaching at West Point he received the West Point Apgar Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Spencer holds a Master of Policy Management from Georgetown University. His writing has appeared in the New York TimesUSA TodayWall Street JournalWashington PostLA TimesNY Daily NewsWired MagazinePoliticoThe HillForeign Policy MagazineDefense OneArmy Magazine, and many other publications. Spencer is also a regular military analyst and commentator for CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and numerous news and media organizations. You can connect with him on Twitter @SpencerGuard.

Soldier of Fortune is pleased that he is part of our esteemed Advisory Committee. Welcome, John Spencer!

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