Rather than characterize Robert McNamara's legacy as one of inefficiency, his economic, quantitative analysis of military problems should be portrayed as an innovative, if flawed, first adoption of more sophisticated methods for defense analysis.
There were no attacks like 9/11 during Obama's eight years in office. But there were plenty of terrorist adversaries. While he will be judged in part for his domestic achievements, Obama's counterterrorism choices are a major part of his legacy.
Rather than thinking of defeating terrorists solely in traditional military terms, it might make sense to think of bankrupting them. It might help to consider the factors that cause luxury brands to lose their luster or big box retailers to fail.
As the last case of nuclear proliferation fades further into history, it may become politically difficult to allocate resources to preventing it, as other pressing threats, such as bio- and cyber-terrorism, continue to emerge.
Focusing on one type of threat or the other — whether state or non-state in its general nature — is becoming a less tenable option as the United States considers how to assess and improve its military readiness.
ISIL has been forced out of 56 places it once controlled, including five major cities. Taking its territory and diminishing its brand is required to reduce the group's operational capacity for carrying out or influencing local or distant attacks.
Presence involves global military deployments to counter potential aggressors, reassure allies, underwrite extended deterrence, build partner capacity, and more. It is now as important, in terms of its stabilizing and deterrent effect, as warfighting capabilities. Yet U.S. force posture falls short.
Xi Jinping is relying on an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign, echoing Mao Zedong's dictum that “the party commands the gun,” and implementing a sweeping reorganization of the PLA to ensure his personal dominance over the military and to strengthen its ability to deter or win future wars.
Many of the challenges the U.S. will face in the coming years across the range of military operations could be deep inland and require rapid response. Airborne forcible entry — with reimagined and modernized airborne forces — would offer decisionmakers options in crises that they do not possess today.
For regional security and to deprive ISIS of what is still its most compelling and important sanctuary in the world today, the U.S. needs a new strategy for Syria that includes willingness to contribute to a substantial postwar military operation to stabilize the country.
Reforms within the Chinese People's Liberation Army are in the process of delivering sweeping changes to its day-to-day operations, despite concerns held by some military members. Whether or not the overall implementation is successful as envisioned, assessing the operational implications of the reforms will require more time.
China's recent deployment of HQ-9 missiles to the Paracel Islands signals its determination to consolidate its gains in the South China Sea, regardless of criticism by the United States and its allies.
Effective and enduring political settlements result from quid pro quos, not irrational pursuit of one-sided advantage. Recognizing that contending parties have legitimate interests in the complex Syria conflict could help bring an end to a destructive war in a volatile but vital region.
A series of panel discussions at RAND today drew a range of opinions on the Iran nuclear deal and its aftermath, but also general agreement that despite some improvement, the agreement has not halted Iran's provocative behavior in the region.