The twenty-sixth Summer Workshop on the Analysis of Military Operations and Strategy (SWAMOS) will be held on July 10 to 24, 2022 at Cornell University. Applications are now open and information can be found here. Applications and questions can be directed to swamos-info@columbia.edu.

The twenty-fourth Summer Workshop on the Analysis of Military Operations and Strategy (SWAMOS) was held on July 12 to 24, 2021, after being rescheduled from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The twenty-fifth SWAMOS was held on July 26 to August 7, 2021. The workshops were held virtually using Zoom videoconferencing. 

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; 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 supporting each other and promoting the field within academia. 

This 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. Subsequent sessions provide a comparative historical perspective on net assessment; analyze linkages among strategy, combat operations, and tactics; and examine subjects such as military effectiveness and logistics. The program also emphasizes analytical techniques available for assessing force structures and defense programs. The Workshop seeks to expose participants to competing approaches, introducing them to key debates and lines of development in the field, and bridging 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 is supported by the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies (SIWPS) at Columbia University, and currently includes 400 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 American Political Science Association (APSA) and the International Studies Association (ISA) annual meetings. SWAMOS alumni have also created informal online networks for collaboration on research projects and data collection projects. 

I. Faculty and Visiting Lecturers 

The two directing faculty of SWAMOS 2021 were Richard K. Betts 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. This year’s guest lecturers included: Tami Davis Biddle, U.S. Army War College; Jacqueline Deal, Long Term Strategy Group; Mark Cancian, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Colonel David Dworak, U.S. Army War College; Commander Michael O’Hara, U.S. Naval War College; and Caitlin Talmadge, Georgetown University.

II. Faculty and Visiting Lecturers

In 2021, SWAMOS was held online, using Zoom videoconference software. The project was administered by SIWPS assistant director Ingrid Gerstmann. Specific clerical tasks, coordination, and workshop logistics were managed by Jonathan Panter, Ph.D. candidate in the department of Political Science at Columbia University. 

III. Participants at SWAMOS 2021

Thirty-nine students and early career scholars participated across the two SWAMOS sessions held in 2021. This year’s 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.