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About

This project is intended for use by scholars, policymakers, journalists, and others who seek to better understand the balance of powers between the branches with respect to how U.S. armed forces are used abroad. It provides new data and analysis that can help elucidate historical and current practice under the War Powers Resolution (WPR) and lay the foundation for potential reform.

Specifically, the project provides a living resource on the war powers reporting practice of every President since the WPR was enacted in 1973. It creates a searchable database of all unclassified 48-hour reports submitted to Congress through December 31, 2019, which are required when Presidents introduce forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities, deploy combat-equipped forces, or substantially enlarge a combat-equipped contingent. The reports have been analyzed to provide substantive information on each report and the database will be regularly updated. This site also contains expert analysis of key findings from the data and interactive graphic illustrations of the data.

The project’s lead researcher and author is Dr. Tess Bridgeman, a senior fellow and visiting scholar at the Reiss Center on Law and Security and a former senior executive branch lawyer. Read more about the full project team.

How to Use this Website

The website has three major components:

  1. Interactive data illustrations. The three interactive graphics on the main page of this site illustrate major research findings and provide an entry point to explore the full data set.
  2. Searchable database. The database contains coding and analysis of the entire set of unclassified 48-hour reports. You can use it to:
    • Filter reports to see key information, such as the stated mission or purpose of the reported activity, the location of deployment or introduction of armed forces, the statutory WPR trigger for reporting, the legal authority cited for the activity, the type of military activity reported, and other categories;
    • View a summary page for each 48-hour report, which highlights key categories of data and excerpts from the reports; and
    • Access the original text of every 48-hour report. You can also download the full underlying data set as a CSV file.
  3. Methodology and Analysis. In the navigation menu you will find links to the project methodology and an analysis of key findings.
    • The methodology section explains how the data were collected and analyzed.
    • The key findings and analysis section provides an overview and initial findings of the study. It also briefly examines a separate data set of unreported incidents, which were analyzed according to the same coding criteria as WPR-reported activity (to the extent possible). These sections are also available in a downloadable PDF format.

Engage With Us!

The War Powers Resolution Reporting Project is a living resource that aims to be useful to a wide range of communities. We encourage you to download and employ our research in your own work. Please provide the following citation if you do:

“War Powers Resolution Reporting Project,” Reiss Center on Law and Security, https://warpowers.lawandsecurity.org.

We are constantly seeking to improve this resource. We welcome your comments and suggestions, which may be directed to warpowers@lawandsecurity.org.

If you like what you see here and wish to support our work, please consider making a donation to the Reiss Center. Your generosity enables us to provide resources such as this project at no charge.