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Thread: Research help? Finding databases...

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    Default Research help? Finding databases...

    Hello everyone,

    I am working on a M.A. thesis project about "small wars"/COINs. More specifically, I am going to investigate the relationship between force employment and equipment.

    Those of you here who are interested in military theory and force employment may have come across Stephen Biddle's "Military Power: explaining victory and defeat in modern battle"; Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004. In essence, I want to adapt his key hypotheses to unconventional war, use a similar methodology of testing them and see what happens and how the results compare.

    There is quite a bit of number-crunching involved in my work but before I can do that I need data to work with. That's my problem. I cannot seem to find an open source and roughly comprehensive database/spreadsheet with basic facts on US and international weapon systems:

    The Federation of American Scientists has plenty of data but mostly in pure text format scattered over various webpages.

    GlobalSecurity has at least html-tables on its pages and some updated content compared to FAS but due to the table formatting I cannot easily bulk import them into Excel and merge them into a giant spreadsheet. The biggest problem is the lack of a name entry of the weapon system in the table itself (they are sorted by website). I could of course manually add a name entry for each but it would take me a very long time to finish and the resulting database would be difficult to keep up to date.

    I don't know if Jane's has a database like the one I am looking for. I would think so (at least for their own use) but I could not find anything on their website about one and if/how access could be arranged.

    I drew similar blanks on the web-presences of other organisations/institutions/companies I could think of.

    Can anyone here think of a database that might be useful to me? Before I spend weeks creating one of my own, I would really like to know that I tried everything else.

    Sam

  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Try IISS (London)

    IISS, based in London, has a long established armed forces database and the annual publications, The Military Balance and Strategic Survey. Try their website: iiss.org

    What about SIPRI? Not looked at their website for a long time.

    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Samantha View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I am working on a M.A. thesis project about "small wars"/COINs. More specifically, I am going to investigate the relationship between force employment and equipment.

    Those of you here who are interested in military theory and force employment may have come across Stephen Biddle's "Military Power: explaining victory and defeat in modern battle"; Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004. In essence, I want to adapt his key hypotheses to unconventional war, use a similar methodology of testing them and see what happens and how the results compare.

    There is quite a bit of number-crunching involved in my work but before I can do that I need data to work with. That's my problem. I cannot seem to find an open source and roughly comprehensive database/spreadsheet with basic facts on US and international weapon systems:

    The Federation of American Scientists has plenty of data but mostly in pure text format scattered over various webpages.

    GlobalSecurity has at least html-tables on its pages and some updated content compared to FAS but due to the table formatting I cannot easily bulk import them into Excel and merge them into a giant spreadsheet. The biggest problem is the lack of a name entry of the weapon system in the table itself (they are sorted by website). I could of course manually add a name entry for each but it would take me a very long time to finish and the resulting database would be difficult to keep up to date.

    I don't know if Jane's has a database like the one I am looking for. I would think so (at least for their own use) but I could not find anything on their website about one and if/how access could be arranged.

    I drew similar blanks on the web-presences of other organisations/institutions/companies I could think of.

    Can anyone here think of a database that might be useful to me? Before I spend weeks creating one of my own, I would really like to know that I tried everything else.

    Sam
    If you were a little more specific on what info you're looking for we may can help better. I used to have an open-source spreadsheet with weapons ranges and such back from my Captain's course days (8 years ago!). Fortunately, not many new weapons systems since then.

    http://www.s2company.com has some useful OPFOR tempates and information.

    And don't forget to introdouce yourself in the "Tell us about you" thread.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samantha View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I am working on a M.A. thesis project about "small wars"/COINs. More specifically, I am going to investigate the relationship between force employment and equipment.

    Those of you here who are interested in military theory and force employment may have come across Stephen Biddle's "Military Power: explaining victory and defeat in modern battle"; Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004. In essence, I want to adapt his key hypotheses to unconventional war, use a similar methodology of testing them and see what happens and how the results compare.

    There is quite a bit of number-crunching involved in my work but before I can do that I need data to work with. That's my problem. I cannot seem to find an open source and roughly comprehensive database/spreadsheet with basic facts on US and international weapon systems:

    The Federation of American Scientists has plenty of data but mostly in pure text format scattered over various webpages.

    GlobalSecurity has at least html-tables on its pages and some updated content compared to FAS but due to the table formatting I cannot easily bulk import them into Excel and merge them into a giant spreadsheet. The biggest problem is the lack of a name entry of the weapon system in the table itself (they are sorted by website). I could of course manually add a name entry for each but it would take me a very long time to finish and the resulting database would be difficult to keep up to date.

    I don't know if Jane's has a database like the one I am looking for. I would think so (at least for their own use) but I could not find anything on their website about one and if/how access could be arranged.

    I drew similar blanks on the web-presences of other organisations/institutions/companies I could think of.

    Can anyone here think of a database that might be useful to me? Before I spend weeks creating one of my own, I would really like to know that I tried everything else.

    Sam
    Sam,

    This paper sounds similar to what you are looking to do, although I think you're trying to extend it more to weapons platforms and beyond just mechanization.

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=2339

    There dataset started with the Correlates of War, http://www.correlatesofwar.org/, although they've added some more depth in the specific direction that they have taken their paper.

    Best of luck.

    Shek

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    Hello!

    Thank you davidbfpo, Cavguy and Shek for your quick replies.

    @Cavguy

    Thank you for welcoming me and pointing out that I didn't phrase my problem precisely enough.

    I would like to find a spreadsheet/electronic database of technical specification data on US and international weapon systems. Ideally, it would also cover items such as camouflage uniforms, backpacks, etc, and relevant data such as their size, weight, replacement cost and so on.

    Basically, I am looking for a collection of data very similar to what you can find on this website: http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...ems/index.html

    When you click on Ground Systems, for example, you arrive at another page with a large number of links to materiel ranging from the M1 Abrams to an M16, each with further links to technical specifications.

    My problem is that the technical specification data is not as complete as I would like and in the wrong format. By not complete enough I mean, for example, that dates of manufacture or delivery are often missing (and they would be important for my statistical analysis). By wrong format I mean that specs are often just html-text or, if I'm lucky, in html-table but in either case significant work would be required before it could become a dataset I could import into a pre-existing spreadsheet or database for further processing.

    What I'm trying to find is a database or giant spreadsheet that is as comprehensive as it gets and the data of which I can immediately stick into mathematical formulae, for example to calculate a mean year of introduction for a selection of modern sniper rifles.

    @davidbfpo:

    Thank you for your suggestions. I had looked at the IISS and SIPRI before but unfortunately their resources cannot help me with what I need.

    IISS:

    1) The Armed Conflict Database has reams of data on conflicts but it is a little short on military equipment. So, for example, it can tell me that in a given conflicts one side used artillery but it doesn't go into any greater depth than that (e.g. what exact make, size, weight...).

    2) The Military Balance is about the distribution of technology rather than the technology itself. So, for example, it can tell me how many Leopard 2 tanks Germany and a few other countries have but not how heavy such a tank is in various armour configurations.

    3) Since I am looking for a collection of raw data, Strategic Survey unfortunately cannot help me either.

    SIPRI:

    The SIPRI website gives me access to six databases that are also not very helpful to me right now:

    1) Country profiles (e.g. security trends)
    2) Peace Operations (UN and non-UN)
    3) Military expenditure (e.g. as % of GDP)
    4) Arms transfers (volume, value, etc.)
    5) Data on arms-producing companies (financial/employment data, sales figures but not specifications of their products)
    6) Export control systems

    @Shek

    Thank you for the link to the paper and the Correlates of War. It's a bit difficult to describe what exactly I'm doing in a few words. It's not what these guys did. I want to get at the relationship between force employment and materiel.

    Stephen Biddle was the first one I know of who combined (!) an analysis of military technology with an analysis of the way in which forces are actually employed. He did that in order to better quantify the relative importance of both to success.

    "The key to battlefield success, he suggests, lies in the adoption of the modern method that emerged out of the desire to break the deadlock of World War I: avoiding the full impact of the enemy's firepower while on the defensive and exploiting it while on the offensive. Biddle develops his analysis through the detailed consideration of three case studies from World War I, World War II, and the Persian Gulf War, as well as some elaborate statistical analysis." (Lawrence Freedman, reviewing Biddle in Foreign Affairs, 2005 - http://www.foreignaffairs.org/200501...rn-battle.html)

    There is much in Biddle's study on conventional war that could be used to understand the relationship between technology and force employment in unconventional war as well. I don't know if you'd like me to go into greater detail, so I'll stop here but feel free to PM me if you're interested.

    It's good to be here. I hadn't seen the "Tell us about you" thread, so I'll trundle off over there now.

    Sam

  6. #6
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samantha View Post
    Hello!

    I would like to find a spreadsheet/electronic database of technical specification data on US and international weapon systems. Ideally, it would also cover items such as camouflage uniforms, backpacks, etc, and relevant data such as their size, weight, replacement cost and so on.

    Basically, I am looking for a collection of data very similar to what you can find on this website: http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...ems/index.html

    When you click on Ground Systems, for example, you arrive at another page with a large number of links to materiel ranging from the M1 Abrams to an M16, each with further links to technical specifications.

    ......

    Stephen Biddle was the first one I know of who combined (!) an analysis of military technology with an analysis of the way in which forces are actually employed. He did that in order to better quantify the relative importance of both to success.

    Sam
    Sam,

    Welcome to the community. I've never read Biddle's work from the foreign affairs snippet and looking at it on Amazon. No real shock in the summary version - he who is able to best use his equipment in a synchronized manner will win. A qualitative-only analysis of the Gulf War should have resulted in a bloody conflict - in both of our attacks the Iraqi conventional forces never stood a chance against our well drilled combined arms force.

    I am interested in how you seek to apply this to COIN/Small Wars. Technology matters much, much less. It's more about mindset. Conventional combined arms is different - combined arms in COIN means syncronizing such things as leader engagements, civil affairs, information engagement, lethal operations, and other non-traditional competencies rather than artillery, engineers, and airstrikes. Technologies improve quite a number of things, but only matter inside of a reasonable "combined arms" COIN plan.

    The technology/equipment affects the counterguerilla battle - i.e. killing insurgents. The mindset affects counter-insurgency - i.e. defeating root causes.

    ===

    I don't think there's one document that contains the type of info you're seeking. PERHAPS you might look at some wargaming sites like battlefront.com which has games that utilize the data you describe - they have forums you can ask the same questions.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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    Janes would be the most authoritative and comprehensive source and I think they will have what you need. Here's what you get with "all the world's aircraft" for example:

    Jane's All the World's Aircraft sets the standard in aviation reference. It provides exhaustive technical detail on more than 1,000 civil and military aircraft currently being produced or under development by approximately 560 companies. Photographs and line drawings aid recognition and comparison, giving you the ability to evaluate competitors, recognise trends in aerospace development, identify potential buyers and select business partners. You can check key specifications for any aircraft, including dimensions, performance, structure, landing gear, power plants and armaments. In addition, there are details of the worlds aircraft manufacturers and their programmes, so you can identify key contracts, production rates, customers and order backlogs.

    Key contents include:
    * Fixed-wing, rotary-wing and lighter-than-air
    * Air-launched missiles summary
    * Aero-engines summary
    * First flights of the previous year
    * Aerospace calendar of the previous year
    * Official world records
    * International aircraft registration prefixes
    * Propeller technology
    * Glossary

    Benefits of online version
    An online subscription provides: continuous online updates; search capabilities, additional photographs and diagrams, an 18-year archive, and exclusive access to production tables, available in Excel or HTML, to facilitate your analysis.
    There are similar volumes on infantry weapons, separate volumes for different kinds of vehicles, artillery, Navy stuff, etc. I bolded a portion in the quote there which looks like exactly what you're looking for. Unfortunately, Jane's products don't come cheap. This one volume is $2300 for online access and to get a complete picture of all military hardware will likely require well over ten volumes.

    So since I'm assuming you don't have an extra $20-30k sitting around, I would look for someone or, more likely, some organization or library who has these subscriptions. I'm betting it will be very difficult.

    Other than that I fear you will be forced to spend an inordinate amount of time simply compiling your data into a usable format. If it's any consolation you may be able to package and sell it judging by what Jane's charges!

    Hope that helps!

    PS: I see now from your introduction thread that you're attending Georgetown in DC. If there's any city on the planet where you can find an online subscription to jane's, DC would be it. I'd suggest contacting the Georgetown library to see if they can help you track it down.
    Last edited by Entropy; 03-27-2008 at 03:18 AM.

  8. #8
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    The key to getting library access to all those volumes is telling the Librarian. They may have it throught the publisher. I've gotten several journals opened up simply by saying "Hey!"
    Sam Liles
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