Military Statecraft and the Use of Multinational Exercises in World Politics

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Foreign Policy Analysis
Although multinational military exercises have become a common foreign policy tool over the last three decades, our understanding of their purpose and variation is limited. Why do major powers conduct multinational exercises, especially with non-allies, and why did exercises increase after the end of the Cold War? I argue that a rise in strategic uncertainty—when adversaries and allies become less obvious—led major powers to increase their use of “shaping” exercises: training events designed not to threaten or prepare to use force, but to change the characteristics of or relationship between militaries. Textual sentiment analysis and regressions of over a thousand multinational exercises from 1980 to 2016 reveal that major powers reacted to an increase in strategic uncertainty by using these types of exercises to manage ambiguous threats and partners. This study highlights why and how major powers implement diverse tools of military statecraft—that is, the use of military organizations to achieve foreign policy goals—to reduce the threat of violent non-state actors and undermine one another in a competitive international system.
Multinational Military Exercises
Kyle J Wolfley, Military Statecraft and the Use of Multinational Exercises in World Politics, Foreign Policy Analysis, Volume 17, Issue 2, April 2021, oraa022,