The Case for Campaign Analysis: A Method for Studying Military Operations


Understanding military operations, from armored warfare to nuclear counterforce strikes to humanitarian response, is fundamental to international relations theory and practice. Although scholars have studied military operations for decades, there is little methodological guidance to direct their analysis or to help them leverage analysis to address broader theoretical questions. Campaign analysis is a method that involves the use of a model and techniques for managing uncertainty to answer questions about military operations. In this article, we define campaign analysis, standardize the method, provide methodological guidance, and illustrate the promise of the method for academic theory. We identify six core steps of the method: 1) question selection, 2) scenario development, 3) model construction, 4) value assignment, 5) sensitivity analysis, and 6) interpretation and presentation of results. Additionally, we recommend that scholars elevate the models they build in their analyses as a central contribution of their work, and we recommend a new technique for propagating uncertainty in inputs through to a model’s output. We then conduct replications and extensions of two existing campaign analyses in order to illustrate the six steps of campaign analysis, the value of the two recommendations, and the promise of campaign analysis as a technique for improved measurement of variables central to international relations theories.

In International Security
Andy Halterman
Andy Halterman
PhD Candidate

My research interests include natural language processing, text as data, and subnational armed conflict