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Empirical Analysis for Meeting Great Power Challenges

PI: Stephen Biddle, Columbia University


Empirical Analysis for Meeting Great Power Challenges

Principal Investigator: Stephen Biddle, Columbia University 

Co-Investigators: Eli Berman, University of California San Diego; Eric Min, University of California Los Angeles

Years of Award: 2019-2022

Managing Service Agency: Office of Naval Research

Project Description:

The new National Defense Strategy shifts the emphasis in U.S. defense policy back to great-power threats, especially those posed by China and Russia. This poses important challenges of assessment. Sound strategy and policy require a clear understanding of enemy capabilities, and an ability to anticipate how U.S. strategy and operations will interact with enemy capabilities to produce combat outcomes. New technology, however, and especially anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) systems and cyber warfare, are changing Chinese and Russian capabilities in ways that may require new approaches to evaluate properly.

The primary objective of this research is to support this new strategic focus by identifying factors that will shape the ability of great powers such as China or Russia to use new technology and new strategies effectively. We will do this by exploiting new data and novel research methodologies to build stronger theories of combat outcomes in modern great power warfare. From these findings, we will draw implications for U.S. policies to deter such rivals, and to project power successfully if deterrence fails.

In particular, the project comprises two interrelated efforts: (1) an empirical analysis of the determinants of state success in using complex naval technology via the new NAVBATTLE dataset, with an associated series of in-depth case studies of battles carefully selected for maximum theoretical leverage; and (2) a pilot study on the potential of text analysis to expand the data available for study via machine coding of archival combat records.

Select Publications:

Berman, Eli, Joseph Felter, Jacob Shapiro, and Vestal McIntyre. 2018. Small Wars, Big Data: The Information Revolution In Modern Conflict. Princeton University Press.
Biddle, Stephen, and Ivan Oelrich. 2016. "Future Warfare In The Western Pacific: Chinese Antiaccess/Area Denial, U.S. AirSea Battle, And Command Of The Commons In East Asia". International Security 41 (1): 7-48.
Biddle, Stephen, Wade Hinkle, and Michael Fischerkeller. 1999. "Skill And Technology In Modern Warfare". Joint Force Quarterly 22: 18-27.
Biddle, Stephen. 2007. "Explaining Military Outcomes". In Creating Military Power: The Sources Of Military Effectiveness, 207-227. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Biddle, Stephen. 2010. "Military Effectiveness". In The International Studies Encyclopedia, 5139-5156. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Biddle, Stephen. 2019. "Theory And Practice Of Continental Warfare". In Strategy In The Contemporary World, 5th ed., 247-264. London and New York: Oxford University Press.
Fischerkeller, Michael P., Wade P. Hinkle, and Stephen D. Biddle. 2002. "The Interaction Of Skill And Technology In Combat". Military Operations Research 7 (1): 39-56.
Freedman, Lawrence D., and Stephen Biddle. 2005. "Military Power: Explaining Victory And Defeat In Modern Battle". Foreign Affairs 84 (1): 184.
KATAGIRI, AZUSA, and ERIC MIN. 2018. "The Credibility Of Public And Private Signals: A Document-Based Approach". American Political Science Review 113 (1): 156-172.
Min, Eric. 2017. "Negotiation In War". PhD dissertation, Stanford University.