A military analyst is someone who is trained to collect information about military powers, study that information, and formulate useful analysis which can be utilized in making policy decisions, preparing for war, presenting legal cases to the international court, or taking steps to ensure national security. Military analysts can work for think tanks, national governments, news organizations, and private consulting agencies, doing everything from conducting highly secret analysis used by intelligence agencies to offering opinions on military issues in the news.
Military analysts can work with both foreign and domestic militaries. They examine every aspect of military capability, including military budget, training, weapons systems, and military doctrine and policies. In addition to looking at offensive and defensive capabilities, many military analysts also examine the role of various militaries in peacekeeping operations, and they look at the ways in which nations use their militaries. Some countries, for example, participate in saber rattlings and intimidation with their armed services, while others prefer to retain a defensive military which has a more public service-oriented mission which can include responding to natural disasters and other events.
When a military analyst works for a security agency, he or she may have access to highly classified materials which can be utilized to gather a great deal of information about a foreign power, ranging from satellite data to information smuggled out of the country by espionage agents. The reports of such analysts are usually classified as a result, with access being limited to high-ranking agents and the head of state. Military analysts in these positions may also prepare more general material which can be released to the public.
Military analysts can make policy recommendations, educate the public about military issues, and provide information to news agencies which may be useful in the preparation of reports. Some become particularly notable public figures, thanks to their appearances on news shows, with high profile analysts fetching higher salaries than those who work in the background, as a general rule. As with many government employees, government military analysts may be critical to national security, but their pay is usually lower than that of a military analyst who works in the private sector.
People in military analysis careers usually have a bachelor's degree at a minimum. They study topics like military history, foreign languages, foreign relations, political policy, and economics in the course of their educations, so that they can apply this knowledge to their analysis of military topics. A military analyst will usually choose to focus in a particular area, specializing in a topic like nuclear capabilities, the Chinese military, or the history of peacekeeping operations. Some governments have military analyst training programs which they use to help people prepare for work as analysts.