AUSA's Army Matters Podcast

AUSA's Army Matters Podcast

AUSA's Army Matters podcast amplifies the voices of the Total Army – one story at a time.

Join hosts LTG (Ret.) Les Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey every other Wednesday as they interview the modern chroniclers of the Army experience to discuss inspiring leadership stories, current issues faced by Soldiers and our military families’ journeys.

Talking with a Living Army Legend

Starting from very humble beginnings in the segregated south, LTG (Ret.) Arthur Gregg rose through the ranks in his thirty-plus year career to become the Army’s first-ever African-American, three-star General. He blazed the trail for generations of soldiers and officers, and his accomplishments were honored earlier this year with the renaming of Fort Lee to Fort Gregg-Adams. Host LTG (Ret.) Leslie C. Smith sits down with the 95-year-old LTG Gregg to discuss how he went from medical lab technician to a top Army general, what it was like serving in the time of segregation, and how it felt to see his name on one of the Army’s top bases.

How to Use Instagram to Become a Better Leader

When a rumor circulated around Fort Drum, Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Mario Terenas took to Instagram to dispel it, racking up tens of thousands of responses. That led him to realize the power of the social media platform to really connect with his soldiers, making him a better leader in the process. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie C. Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with CSM (Ret.) Terenas to discuss Instagram, the story of his abandonment at age sixteen, how to become #mountaintough… and how cleaning toilets can develop leadership skills.

Why America is Talkin' 'Bout These Army Singers

In July of this year millions across the country were blown away when the 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus appeared on the talent show America’s Got Talent, impressing the judges and making it to this month’s semifinals. But the Chorus has been around for decades, telling the story of the Army through song and performance. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie C. Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with two Chorus members, SSG Marcus Gilbert and SGT Damarielis Vargas, to talk about the Chorus, their favorite performances, the intimidating nature of Simon Cowell… and perhaps belt out a tune or two…

How to Split a Playing Card in Half with an Air Rifle

In October of 2022, SGT Alison Weisz won the World Championship in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle Competition, becoming the first American woman to win the title since 1979. Not stopping there, she’s currently spending her days training at Fort Moore for a chance at winning gold at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie C. Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with SGT Weisz to discuss how a children’s gun safety course led her to where she is today, how a proper diet affects everything in life, and what advice she’d give to Elmer Fudd in his pursuit of the bunny.

What Does the Next Generation of Army Leaders Think? – Part II

Army recruiting. Climate change. Community service. AI. These are all important issues, and in the second of our special two-part series we continue speaking to four top ROTC and JROTC cadets to get their thoughts on all of these topics – and more.

What Does the Next Generation of Army Leaders Think? – Part I

Many of today’s Army leaders started out as cadets in ROTC or JROTC Well, what do the youth in the program today think about the Army and the world itself? In today’s episode – the first of a very special two-part series – we sit down with four top cadets to get their thoughts on their programs, the benefits and difficulties of service, what the Army could do to improve recruitment, as well as some musings on topics like climate change, mental health, social media and more.

From Draft to All-Volunteer: A Celebration

In July, 1973 then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird announced the U.S. military would fill its ranks with volunteers, not draftees. In the last fifty years over 11 million volunteers have signed up, making the All-Volunteer Force a model recruitment process for the country. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie C. Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with General (Ret.) Carter Ham to discuss what it was like being amongst the first to volunteer in that 1973 volunteer class, and then chat with LTG Walter E. Piatt to discuss what the Army is doing this month to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

Who Will Win This Army Cooking Competition?

Most people know Robert Irvine as a celebrity chef and television host. But not everyone knows he got his start in the British Royal Navy at age 15, that he runs 11 businesses employing over 5,000 people, and that he spends a large amount of time every year meeting with – and feeding – troops around the world. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie C. Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with Chef Irvine to discuss his military career, his new book for entrepreneurs, and have him judge a friendly – or not? – podcast cooking competition.

Pop Quiz: Did the U.S. Army Fight in the Asia-Pacific War?

John McManus, one of the most prolific chroniclers of Army history, has just completed an acclaimed trilogy of books about the Asia-Pacific battles in World War II. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie C. Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with McManus to discuss his last book, To the End of the Earth: The US Army and the Downfall of Japan, 1945, lessons learned from those battles, and how he transitioned from an aspiring baseball announcer to a history professor and author. (Oh, and Professor McManus also oversees a little history pop quiz along the way…)

Set up for Failure? These WWII Black Women Warriors Overcame

In early 1945 a predominantly all-black, all-female battalion was sent to Europe to do the impossible: ensure delivery of 17 million pieces of mail to aid morale across the continent. They succeeded, but it took over fifty years – and the work of many – for the exploits of the “Six Triple Eight” to be recognized. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie. C. Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with Col (Ret.) Edna Cummings to discuss her efforts to bring attention to the 6888, the glass ceilings she burst through in her own 25-year Army career, and what it was like to witness the 6888’s leader Charity Adams honored in the recent naming of Fort Gregg-Adams.

Finding Purpose in Hunting War Criminals and Honoring Heroes

MSG (Ret.) Darrell Utt has overseen many brave missions in his life, from ones as a young child that put food on his family’s table to tracking down war criminals as a Green Beret. Today he oversees the operations of the in-progress National Medal of Honor Museum in Arlington, TX. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie C. Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with MSG (Ret.) Utt to discuss the importance of teamwork, what makes him so driven to complete the Medal of Honor Museum, and how to put together a honeypot operation.

What's in a Name? Well, Everything.

When the Department of Defense decided to examine the renaming of its bases in 2020, it turned to Brigadier General (Ret.) Ty Seidule to vice-chair its Naming Commission. Not only is BG (Ret.) Seidule Professor Emeritus of History at West Point Academy, but also a southerner. He grew up in awe of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, but eventually had to reevaluate who should be honored as a hero. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with BG (Ret.) Seidule to discuss the process of renaming military bases, the importance of history, and give shout-outs to a number of heroes that more people should be aware of.

Love, Art and an Inspired Baby Name

Actress Jill Wagner (Teen Wolf, Wipeout, numerous romance films), was raised in a military family, and reunited with an old boyfriend, Major David Lemanowicz, while on a USO Tour in Afghanistan in 2015. It was just one of multiple meet-cutes for the couple, eventually leading to their marriage, and upcoming spy thriller Paramount+ TV series, Lioness, co-created by MAJ Lemanowicz, Jill Wagner, and Taylor Sheridan. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with the couple to discuss their romance, how service has defined their lives, the upcoming series… and the story behind the unique (and patriotic) name they gave their first-born child.

Lessons on Being Bold from the Next Generation

What does the next generation think about the world today? About service? About their own anxieties? Well, perhaps the best place to start is to chat with this year’s Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Military Youth of the Year Award recipient, right? Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with award-winning speaker Ahsha B. – as well as Boys and Girls Clubs President and CEO Jim Clark – to talk about what the organization is doing to help today’s young people, how the club helped Ahsha B’s own personal confidence, and what advice they’d give to other people (as well as our podcasting team …)

Blazing a Trail – and Flight Path – for Army Women

Brigadier General (Ret.) Anne Macdonald is an Army trailblazer in all senses of the word: part of the first gender-integrated class at West Point Academy, the first active-duty combat arms (aviator) female to be promoted to General Officer, and the current President of the Army Women’s Foundation. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with BG Macdonald to talk about the glass ceilings she’s busted, her powerful experience visiting an Afghan women’s prison and what she misses most about the U.S. while living in Abu Dhabi.

How to Build a Strong Army Marriage

When people think about the stressful and difficult parts of Army service, home life isn’t always given a great deal of thought. And yet, finding a balance between your unit and family is perhaps the most important part of a Soldier’s life. Host LTG (Ret.) Leslie C. Smith and his very special guest co-host—his wife, Vanedra Smith—talk with California Army National Guard LTC Chris Elson and his wife, Gina Viscusi-Elson, on how to make an Army marriage strong, provide tips on ways to survive the difficult moments, and challenge each other with a round or two of “The Not-so-Newlywed Game.”

The Satirical Site that Keeps the Army Laughing

In 2012, former USMC Sergeant Paul Szoldra started a website satirizing the military. Over the last eleven years that site – The Duffel Blog – has entertained hundreds of thousands of people both within and outside the military. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie C. Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with Szoldra to talk about the effectiveness of satire, some of their favorite Duffel Blog articles, and a certain SMA ranking story from years ago…

Getting to Know the Country I Served

After thirty years of heroic service, Colonel (Ret.) Kenny Mintz decided to undertake an epic adventure in 2022 – a walk across the United States, going from Washington, D.C. to southern California. The path allowed him to retrace the route he and his single mother drove when he was a child moving across the country. Hosts LTG (Ret.) Leslie Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with COL Mintz to talk about how football led to his career in the Army, what drew him closer to his mother, and how it’s in our DNA as humans to walk and move.

The Black Musician Who Befriended the KKK

For the past forty years, Daryl Davis has befriended members of the Ku Klux Klan and convinced (directly and indirectly) over 200 to quit the organization. How has he accomplished this? And how can everyone apply this technique to their own life? Hosts LTG (Ret.) Les Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with Mr. Davis - along with Chaplain (MG) Thomas Solhjem - to chat about the power of conversation, the beauty of music, and how the Army uses Mr. Davis' experience to help soldiers take care of their health, fitness and well-being.

How to Defeat MMA Fighters, Terrorists & Self-Doubt

MSG Tim Kennedy was living a life without purpose until he joined the U.S. Army and then became an MMA fighter. Those two organizations allowed him to channel his aggression and led to a career as a top-ranked fighter, Army Special Forces sniper, television host, human trafficker hunter and entrepreneur. Series co-hosts LTG (Ret.) Les Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with MSG Tim Kennedy to talk about how failure continues to drive him, how to take punches, and how a Captain’s dry humor changed his life.

How Did the Battle of the Bulge Inspire Bass Pro Shops?

Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of the ever-present Bass Pro Shops, one of the world’s largest outdoor retail chains, makes his very first podcast appearance in today’s episode. New series co-hosts LTG (Ret.) Les Smith and SMA (Ret.) Dan Dailey sit down with Johnny to chat about how his father’s involvement in WW2’s Battle of the Bulge inspired him to make veterans and the military a priority for the business (and in life), how a love of fishing (and a mail catalog) led to the company’s success, and how one patriotic song (and its singer) has also inspired Johnny to give back to the country.