The twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth sessions of the Summer Workshop on the Analysis of Military Operations and Strategy (SWAMOS) will be held in July and August 2021. Students selected for the program will receive instruction from experienced specialists from academic, political and military backgrounds. Twenty-two students will be selected to participate in each of the upcoming sessions.
An application for the program will be available in December 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SWAMOS was not held in Summer 2020. More information about the 2019 workshop can be found below.
Background on SWAMOS 2019
SWAMOS was held on July 7-21, 2019, 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. The Workshop’s goal is 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 committed to the subject, capable of giving each other support and promoting the field within academia.
SWAMOS 2019 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 took 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.
Since 2002, the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies (SIWPS) at Columbia University has supported a closed email list of SWAMOS alumni. The list currently includes over 300 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 organize informal mixers during 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. 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 2019 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.
A variety of accomplished scholars, policy analysts, and military professionals participated for a few days at a time. SWAMOS 2019’s guest lecturers included: Tami Davis Biddle, U.S. Army War College; Mark Cancian, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS); Jacqueline Deal (LTSG); Colonel David Dworak, U.S. Army War College; Commander Michael O’Hara, U.S. Naval War College; and Caitlin Talmadge, Georgetown University.
SWAMOS 2019 Participants
In 2019, 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 or working at U.S. universities, but a number were foreign nationals studying at U.S. universities or institutions in other countries.
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.
SIWPS assistant director Ingrid Gerstmann provides administrative oversight of SWAMOS. Specific clerical tasks, coordination, and workshop logistics, both during the year and onsite at Cornell University, are managed by Jonathan Panter, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University.
Click here to view a list of SWAMOS alumni.
The twenty-fourth annual SWAMOS will be held July 11-25, 2021.
The twenty-fifth annual SWAMOS will be held on July 25-August 8, 2021.
Application information will be posted on this page in December 2020.