SEST-538 Military Analysis
Fall for 2017-2018
This class is designed to help students understand the dynamics of modern conventional military operations in all their dimensions. It is intended for students considering careers in the armed forces, the intelligence community, military contracting, academic security studies, as well as those who simply have a keen interest in analyzing and understanding conventional military operations.
The principal method of this course will be to examine key battles and campaigns of the Second World War and to identify critical decisions, capabilities, or other factors that produced the historical result—and might have resulted in a very different outcome had they proven otherwise. The class will employ both counterfactuals and alternative analyses to explore the range of potential outcomes of different cases.
The purpose of these exercises, and the goal of the class, will be to help the student consider current or future conventional military situations and assess how they should or could develop based on what would inevitably be only partial information, i.e., less information than what we now know about the World War II cases. For instance, predicting the ability of one country to invade its neighbor is inherently difficult; however, a thorough understanding of German success over France in 1940 and its ultimate failure against Russia in 1941 can help illustrate the critical variables in any such scenario, and therefore focus the intelligence analyst on key questions and information gaps, and the military planner on key objectives and capabilities.
For all of these reasons, students will be expected to carry a considerable workload both in terms of readings and class participation. Students will be expected to participate in detailed debates on topics ranging from the strategic to the tactical level, and so will be expected to have internalized the historical materials necessary to do so.
Although this course employs the campaigns and battles of World War II as its course material, it is NOT a class on World War II history. Consequently, no more than a rudimentary understanding of World War II history is necessary as a prerequisite. By the same token, this is also NOT a course on the basics of military forces—students should have an understanding of military forces and operations (what a division or an air wing consists of, what does “combined arms” refer to, what strategic vs. tactical air power refers to) although no more than the basics are required.
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