​Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein speaks with airmen as he tours the Kentucky ANG base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 10, 2019. Air National Guard photo by SSgt. Joshua Horton.
Photo Caption & Credits

USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein’s Media Recommendations

Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman created the CSAF Professional Reading Program in 1996 to develop a common frame of reference among Air Force officers, enlisted, and civilians. Each Air Force Chief of Staff since then has enhanced and continued the reading program. (For the reading list see Air Force Magazine, March 2019, p. 60.) Recommendations from CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright are also included.

Here are the Chief’s recommendations for films, TED Talks, podcasts, and blogs. For the full reading list and an archive of past lists, go to https://static.dma.mil/usaf/csafreadinglist/


Official movie poster of “Hidden Figures” the true story of three African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) -who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit. (20th Century Fox)

Hidden Figures
20th Century Fox
Hidden Figures tells the true story of three African-American female mathematicians working for NASA during the beginning of the US space program. They were vital to many of the program’s early successes, including one of history’s greatest operations—the launching of the first manned orbit.

Tuskegee Airmen
HBO Studios
The story of the first squadron of black American pilots to be allowed to fight for their country. It is 1943, and the Germans are winning WWII. Four newly recruited pilots are united by a desire to serve their country—at a time when black flyers are not welcomed in the US Army Air Force.

The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War is a 10-part, 18-hour film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film. The Vietnam War features testimony from nearly 80 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.

Frontline: Confronting ISIS
PBS Distribution
Two-year analysis of US-led efforts to defeat ISIS. Martin Smith travels with one of Iraq’s Shia militia groups, as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. He meets the father of a Jordanian pilot who was burned to death by ISIS and sits down for candid interviews with leaders including former US Secretaries of Defense Ashton Carter and Chuck Hagel, embattled Iraqi president Haider al-Abadi, and others.

TED Talks

The Puzzle of Motivation
Daniel Pink
Career analyst Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories—and maybe, a way forward.

Where Good Ideas Come From
Steven Johnson
People often credit their ideas to individual “Eureka!” moments, history tells a different story. Johnson’s fascinating tour takes us from the “liquid networks” of London’s coffee houses to Charles Darwin’s long, slow hunch to today’s high-velocity web.

The Military Case for Sharing Knowledge
Stanley McChrystal
When Gen. Stanley McChrystal started fighting al Qaeda in 2003, information and secrets were the lifeblood of his operations. But as the unconventional battle waged on, he began to think keeping important information classified was misguided and counterproductive. McChrystal makes the case for actively sharing knowledge.

How to Make Stress Your Friend
Kelly McGonigal
Stress—it makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken, and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

Three ways to plan for the (very) long term
Ari Wallach
We increasingly make decisions based on short-term goals and gains—an approach that makes the future more uncertain and less safe. How can we learn to think about and plan for a better future in the long term —like, grandchildren-scale long term? Wallach shares three tactics for thinking beyond the immediate.


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War on the Rocks
War on the Rocks is a platform for analysis, commentary, debate, and multimedia content on foreign policy and national security issues through a realist lens. The podcasts include interviews with soldiers, spies, officials, and scholars on a range of issues related to strategy, defense, and foreign affairs, and “Pacific Pundit,” a series on the intersection of US and Asian geopolitics, foreign policy, and history.

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Mandatory Fun
Mandatory Fun is a weekly podcast about the military and pop culture aiming to break cultural tropes and bridge the military-civilian divide through storytelling and entertainment in episodes such as “How Going to War Brings Out the Best and Worst in People,” “Four Skills That Will Help You Survive in a Disaster or a Zombie Apocalyse,” and “How Unconventional Tactics Won the Battle for Ramadi.”

The Economist Radio podcast logo. (The Economist)

The Economist Radio
Podcasts that explore the latest tech trends, examine the booms and busts in business, and ask big names big questions. Episodes include explorations of the real consequences of German reunification, the Arab Spring, the Hong Kong protests, and analysis of Bolivia, Chile, and Sri Lanka’s elections and impacts on the US and around the globe.

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American Military History
Dedicated to telling the story of American history through the eyes of military men and women. Starting with the Revolutionary War, it covers engagements through the present day, as well as taking a few stops along the way to learn about the history of each of the branches of the American military—Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines.

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War College
A weekly look at the weapons systems and tactics that both endanger the world and keep it safe, including episodes on US Special Operators training to fight Russian tanks (and memes), Syria, the Kurds, and civil war, the new nuclear arms race, and why people defend dictators on line.

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Foreign Affairs Unedited
Since its founding in 1922, Foreign Affairs has been a leading forum for serious discussion of American foreign policy and global affairs. Recent broadcasts include “What the US Can Do About North Korea,” “The Age of Global Transparency,” and “Israel and It’s Middle East Neighbors.”

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New Books in Military History
Interviews with scholars of military history about their new books including, among many others, “The Longer We Were There,” “Footprints of War,” “Transnational Nazism,” “One Long Night,” “Mexican Exodus,” and “After Appomattox.”

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Leadership and Loyalty
Dov Baron is a headline leadership speaker and corporate cultural strategist. He speaks at global conferences on influence, business, and embracing purpose-driven, authentic leadership. The podcasts include “Why We Struggle and How to Stop,” “Having the Courage to Create a Tribe,” and “Leadership and Loyalty.”

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Over the Horizon
Rapid technological development and diffusion of power have created an environment that old paradigms have difficulty grasping, with an emphasis on multi-domain operations and strategy. It is a space to consider defining questions such as “What comes after the joint and interagency constructs?” and “What does an effective multi-domain operation look like?”

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War is Boring
In daily articles on the US military from personnel issues to weapons systems and global and regional hotspots, War is Boring reports on drones to AKs and high technology to low politics, exploring how and why we fight above, on, and below an angry world.

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The Strategy Bridge
A nonprofit organization focused on the development of people in strategy, national security, and military affairs. The blog offers podcasts, mentorship gatherings and other events, and scholarly articles about US and global military and defense affairs.

A Message from the Chief

Gen. David Goldfein
Staff photo by Mike Tsukamoto

“Our new … list provides a range of professional development opportunities to refocus our thinking on the challenges that this new era brings. We must sharpen our understanding of nuclear weapons, deterrence, great power diplomacy, and future warfighting technologies. Airmen are the strength of the Air Force. I challenge each of you to take deliberate steps toward expanding your understanding of this new national security environment, the threats we will face, and the tools we will need to prevail. Your dedication and commitment to expand your understanding ensures we remain the best Air Force the world has ever seen. FIGHT’S ON!”

David L. Goldfein
General, USAF
Chief of Staff