Subject Area Keywords

Intelligence analysis, Methodology


Qualitative analysis has two extraordinary capabilities: first, finding answers to questions we are too clueless to ask; and second, causal inference – hypothesis testing and assessment – within a single unique context (sample size of one). These capabilities are broadly useful, and they are critically important in village-level civil-military operations. Company commanders need to learn quickly, "What are the problems and possibilities here and now, in this specific village? What happens if we do A, B, and C?" – and that is an ill-defined, one-of-a-kind problem.

The U.S. Army's Eighty-Third Civil Affairs Battalion is our "first user" innovation partner in a new project to adapt qualitative research methods to an operational tempo and purpose. Our aim is to develop a simple, low-cost methodology and training program for local civil-military operations conducted by non-specialist conventional forces. Complementary to that, this paper focuses on some essential basics that can be implemented by college professors without significant cost, effort, or disruption.


The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors, and do not represent those of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.