Summer Workshop on the Analysis of Military Operations and Strategy

The twenty-third Summer Workshop on the Analysis of Military Operations and Strategy (SWAMOS) will be held July 2019. Students selected for the program will receive specialized instruction from experienced specialists from academic, political and military backgrounds. Twenty-two students will be selected to participate in the upcoming session. An application for the program will be available December 2018. More information about the 2018 workshop can be found below.

This past summer, SWAMOS was held on July 8-22, 2018, on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. SWAMOS was designed to expose young scholars to a body of knowledge that is seldom made available in conventional graduate programs, to encourage some of them to specialize in the field in order to nurture a critical mass of academics competent to contribute to defense policy debates, to preserve expertise in strategic studies outside of government, and to foster a network of analysts interested in and committed to the subject, capable of giving each other support and promoting the field within academia.

Last year’s workshop included readings, lectures, seminars, informal discussions, campaign planning simulations, formal military modeling, and film screenings. Participants were given roughly 850 pages of assigned reading to complete before arriving at the Workshop and were assigned 25-50 pages of additional reading each night during the workshop to prepare for the next day’s session. Numerous social activities were scheduled to promote interaction and encourage professional friendships and network-building among the next generation of strategic analysts.

The program takes participants from the general to the specific, beginning with basic philosophical questions about the relationship between the conduct of war and the objectives of foreign policy. This was followed by sessions giving a comparative historical perspective on net assessment; the linkages among strategy, combat operations, and tactics; command and control of military capabilities and effectiveness; and logistics. The rest of the program emphasized analytical techniques available for assessing force structures and defense programs. The Workshop sought to expose the participants to competing approaches, to establish a sense of the key debates and lines of development in the field, and to bridge the theoretical and policy sides of military analysis.

In 2002, a closed SWAMOS email list was activated to encourage further discussions on the analysis of military operations and strategy. The list continues to function and is supported by the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies (SIWPS) at Columbia University. The list currently includes over 280 previous SWAMOS participants. The purpose of the list is to foster a lively and open discussion on issues of common interest and to nurture the SWAMOS network. Through this list we also advertise job openings available in academia and in public policy institutions.

SWAMOS alumni began organizing informal mixers during various political science conferences and conventions, to renew friendships and meet attendees from other years. SWAMOS now holds alumni reunion meetings at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) and the International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Meeting. This year, several SWAMOS alumni presented collaborative work on separate panels at the 2018 American Political Science Association Convention.  SWAMOS alumni have also created an informal online network for collaboration on research projects and data collection projects.

Faculty and Visiting Lecturers

The two directing faculty of SWAMOS 2018 were Richard K. Betts of Columbia University, and Stephen Biddle of Columbia University. Responsibility for guiding the workshop was shared, with each taking primary responsibility for organizing sessions at different times throughout the program.

To accomplish the aims of the workshop, a variety of accomplished scholars, policy analysts, and military professionals participated for a few days at a time. This year’s guest lecturers included: Tami Davis Biddle, U.S. Army War College; Bruce Blair, Princeton University; Mark Cancian, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); Colonel David Dworak, U.S. Army War College; Commander Michael O’Hara, U.S. Naval War College; and Caitlin Talmadge, Georgetown University.


In 2018, SWAMOS was held on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The project was administrated by SIWPS assistant director Ingrid Gerstmann. Specific clerical tasks, coordination, and workshop logistics, both during the year and onsite at Cornell University, were managed by Renanah Miles Joyce, Ph.D. candidate in the department of Political Science at Columbia University.

SWAMOS 2018 Participants

In 2018, the participants included assistant professors, recent Ph.D. recipients in political science, and Ph.D. candidates in political science and international affairs. Most participants were American citizens studying at U.S. universities, but a number were foreign nationals studying at U.S. universities, and a few were foreign nationals studying or working at foreign universities.

Many of the participants had general backgrounds in security studies broadly defined but only a few had been exposed to detailed military analysis or policy-oriented strategic research. Although some of the participants had an extensive background in the history of major wars, and a smaller number had formal military experience, most of the material presented and discussed was new to them.

Click here to view a list of SWAMOS alumni.

The twenty-third annual SWAMOS will be held July 7-21, 2019.

Application information can be found HERE