Summer Workshop on the Analysis of Military Operations and Strategy

July 08, 2014

The twenty-second Summer Workshop on the Analysis of Military Operations and Strategy (SWAMOS) will be held July 2018. 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 2017. More information about the 2017 workshop can be found below.

This past summer, SWAMOS was held from July 9-23, 2017 on the campus of Cornell University. 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 the program included readings, lectures, seminars, informal discussions, tactical decision games, campaign planning simulations, formal military modeling, and film showings. Participants were given about 850 pages of assigned reading to complete before arriving at the workshop and did 25-50 pages of additional reading each night during the workshop to prepare for the next day’s session. Social activities were scheduled to promote interaction and encourage professional friendships and network-building among the next generation of strategic analysts.

Network-building activities included a reception and discussion with the faculty and graduate students of the Cornell Government Department and Reppy Center.

The SWAMOS 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; unconventional warfare; and defense budgets. 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 Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. The list currently includes more than 200 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.

An important contribution of SWAMOS is the founding of the Committee for the Analysis of Military Operations and Strategy (CAMOS), an APSA-affiliated group that organizes panel discussions. For the last few years, SWAMOS alumni have gathered informally in convention hotel lobbies to renew friendships and meet attendees from other years. Last year, however, there was interest in meeting more formally and broadening the network to include other scholars. To this end, a group of 60 SWAMOS alumni and other scholars submitted a proposal to establish the APSA-affiliated committee. Thus CAMOS has now held panels and receptions at APSA, the Northeastern Political Science Association, and the International Studies Association-Northeast Annual Meetings.

Faculty and Visiting Lecturers

The two directing faculty of SWAMOS 2017 were Richard K. Betts of Columbia University and Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations. Responsibility for guiding the workshop was shared among the two, with each taking primary responsibility for organizing sessions at different times during the two weeks.

A variety of accomplished scholars, policy analysts, and military professionals participated for a day at a time: Tami Davis Biddle of the U.S. Army War College, Mark Cancian of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, David Dworak of the U.S. Army War College, Michael O’Hara of the Naval War College and Caitlin Talmadge of the George Washington University. All of the speakers had academic credentials, but some had particularly relevant military experience as well. For example, Mark Cancian, a Marine Corps Colonel, served in Iraq as a high-level analyst of combat operations and Michael O’Hara, a Commander in the US Navy, has operational experience including carrier-jet aviation (S-3B Viking NFO) and naval intelligence with flying and staff deployments in three aircraft carriers and in Kabul, Afghanistan.

SWAMOS 2017 was held on the campus of Cornell University. Project administration was managed by SIWPS Business Manager Ingrid Gerstmann. Specific administrative tasks and workshop logistics, both during the year and at Cornell, were managed by Emily Holland, Ph.D., from Columbia University’s Department of Political Science.

SWAMOS 2017 Participants

In 2017, the participants included assistant professors, recent Ph.D. recipients in political science, and Ph.D. candidates in political science and international affairs. The majority of participants were American citizens, but a number came from abroad or were foreign nationals attending U.S. 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 an even 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-second annual SWAMOS will be held July 2018.

Application information can be found HERE