MWI Research


The Modern War Institute’s research program supports policy-relevant scholarship on the most pressing national security challenges, capitalizing on West Point’s unique role as a focal point for both military and civilian experts in modern warfighting. We accomplish this by creating a community of interest in which both communities flourish, reaching an audience of leaders empowered to implement our recommendations. By publishing original research through our MWI Reports and providing avenues for experts to share their insights with a broader community through various events, like our War Councils, MWI leads the way in advancing the study of modern war. The research program is a key tool for integrating West Point’s military program with current academic scholarship to support cadet education.

Our fellows constitute the core of MWI’s research program. The MWI fellows program assembles some of the most accomplished and promising thinkers, scholars, and practitioners. Fellows enhance the rigor of the institute’s research, contribute to MWI publications, and participate in MWI workshops and programming. The program connects researchers dedicated to affecting policy and educating leaders within the US Army, joint and combined forces, and defense and national security community.

During the 2023–2024 academic year, MWI’s research program focuses on three themes, broadly defined:

Human Resources

This theme centers on the role people play—as both individuals and as members of a larger organization—in warfighting and broader strategic contexts. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put a spotlight on diverse ways to organize a country’s population for war, with coverage of citizen-soldiers, total defense strategies, soldier morale, and conscription each raising questions about how soldiers from different backgrounds experience war and fight together as a team. This theme also considers how technology, culture, or policy can optimize recruitment and human performance.

Allies and Partners

One of the United States’ great strengths is its ability to attract partners who share its goals. With a national security strategy centered on strategic competition, the success of US policy will increasingly depend on its ability to forge and maintain effective partnerships. From powerful and long-standing alliances like NATO to surrogate operations and proxy war, working with other countries takes many forms. Topics of inquiry for this theme include but are not limited to assuring and reassuring allies, deterrence, security force assistance and arms trade, and interoperability.

Combined Arms Warfare

Combined arms operations remain the most important and the most challenging component of modern military effectiveness in conventional war. Recent conflicts between near-peer adversaries in the Caucasus and in Ukraine have looked much more like the high-intensity conflicts of the twentieth century than the last two decades of American-led counterinsurgency. They have also identified new logistical and operational challenges. What have these conflicts revealed about modern combined arms operations? Have technological advances and the emergence of new domains altered how armies mass and maneuver forces? This theme explores these questions and others related to understanding how different elements of landpower work together to create decisive action.

Image credit: LBM1948, via Wikimedia