Armed Conflict

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RAND researchers examine military and national security issues across a broad spectrum — from political dissent and military training to tactical operations and reconstruction efforts — and take a long-term, global perspective. Terrorism, types of warfare, and international intervention are among the many topics RAND explores.

  • U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice listens as Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi speaks during a meeting in Beijing, China, July 25, 2016, photo by Mark Schiefelbein/Reuters/Pool

    Report

    Exploring the Course and Consequences of a Sino-U.S. War

    Jul 28, 2016

    Premeditated war between the United States and China is very unlikely. But the danger that a mishandled crisis could trigger hostilities cannot be ignored. A new analysis illuminates various paths a war could take and their possible effects.

  • Fighters of the anti-government guerilla group UNITA parade under a portrait of their leader Jonas Savimbi, November 12, 1985, marking the 10th anniversary of Angolan Independence from Portugal, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commercial Book

    Guide to Understanding Insurgency Warfare

    Nov 1, 2016

    An exploration of the history and dynamics of 181 insurgencies since 1946 provides lessons for those fighting insurgent campaigns today in such countries as Syria, Libya, and Iraq.

Explore Warfare and Military Operations

  • Children registered in a school and received their new school bags in Mosul, Iraq, January 23, 2017

    Commentary

    The Urgent Need for an Education Plan in Mosul

    In addition to restoring Mosul's damaged infrastructure, efforts to stabilize the city must include a plan to rebuild education. Students need to make up years of missed K-12 and university education, and ISIS indoctrination needs to be undone.

    Mar 27, 2017

  • A coder types on laptop keyboard

    Commentary

    Reining in Internet Abuse

    The internet is being used for harmful, unethical, and illegal purposes. Examples include incitement and recruitment by terrorists, cyber bullying, and malicious fake news. Americans say they are unhappy with the tone of the online discourse, but are reluctant to consider potential remedies.

    Mar 23, 2017

  • Fighters of the Syrian Islamist rebel group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham cheer on a pickup truck after a Russian helicopter was shot down in the north of Syria's rebel-held Idlib province, August 1, 2016

    Commentary

    Al Qaeda in Syria Can Change Its Name, but Not Its Stripes

    Al Qaeda in Syria, by any name, remains a dangerous and capable terrorist organization with the ability to conduct attacks in the West. Those seeking to grapple with the threat the group poses should focus less on its names and more on its actions.

    Mar 23, 2017

  • People rush to a site hit by what activists said was heavy shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus, June 16, 2015

    Commentary

    Holding Assad Accountable for Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

    With two no votes from China and Russia, the UN Security Council failed to pass a resolution punishing Syrian officials for their roles in chlorine attacks in 2014 and 2015. Leadership from the United States on this issue could show allies that despite a change in government, the U.S. remains committed to holding those who use chemical weapons accountable.

    Mar 22, 2017

  • Russian military helicopters fly during rehearsals for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 3, 2014

    Testimony

    Russian Hybrid Warfare: What Is It, and What Can Be Done About It?

    Russia's use of subversive actions, such as information and cyber operations, threatens U.S. interests in Europe. Addressing this hybrid threat will take time and effort. And any U.S. response must be developed alongside efforts to bolster conventional deterrence.

    Mar 22, 2017

  • Report

    Assessing and Evaluating Department of Defense Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade: Worked Example

    This report presents a realistic but fictional scenario as context for how assessment planning for inform, influence, and persuade efforts should work in practice, demonstrating core principles and best practices for developing effective assessments.

    Mar 22, 2017

  • Afghan security forces take position during a gun battle between Taliban and Afghan security forces in Laghman province, Afghanistan, March 1, 2017

    Commentary

    How Trump Should Manage Afghanistan

    While media coverage has focused on Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan remains an important frontline state in the fight against terrorism. The Trump administration should aim to prevent Taliban forces from overthrowing the Afghan government, encourage political reconciliation where feasible, and pursue terrorists that threaten the U.S.

    Mar 21, 2017

  • A new multi-role Russian MiG-35 fighter flies during its international presentation at the MiG plant in Lukhovitsy outside Moscow, Russia January 27, 2017.

    Commentary

    Thinking Constructively About Overmatch

    To regain military superiority the Pentagon has suggested a strategy that focuses on emerging technologies and deterrence. But it will need more than new technologies to deter and respond to aggression; it should also take into account grand strategy and acquisition considerations and keep countering Russia and China a top priority.

    Mar 21, 2017

  • Members of the NYPD's Counterterrorism Bureau stand watch at the Union Square Holiday Market in Manhattan, December 20, 2016

    Commentary

    Taking the 'Terror' Out of Terrorism Requires Outsmarting Fear

    Terrorism aims to create terror. Building an effective counterterror strategy could help society understand how terrorism works, then work together toward a psychologically more resilient and less vulnerable mindset.

    Mar 16, 2017

  • Military vehicles carrying DF-26 ballistic missiles travel past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Beijing, September 3, 2015

    Report

    China's Evolving Approach to Nuclear Deterrence

    China's nuclear posture has been consistent since 1964. But in recent years, China has increased the numbers of its missiles and warheads and improved the quality of its force. Understanding its future nuclear direction is critical to shaping U.S. strategy.

    Mar 15, 2017

  • Pakistani soldiers at an army post in the Shawal mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, near a known haven for al Qaeda militants, April 29, 2006

    Commentary

    Beware the New Mujahideen: The Threat from Future Jihadist Networks

    Today's terrorist networks will multiply far beyond the wars in Iraq and Syria. When one conflict ends, these fighters often join another. It is critical they be denied safe haven and the ability to train and network in ungoverned territories.

    Mar 14, 2017

  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (right) greets Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the State Department in Washington, February 28, 2017

    Commentary

    What Are the Chances of the U.S. and China Going to War?

    War between the United States and China seems far-fetched. But complacency would be a mistake. Washington and Beijing should keep a direct channel open between their defense ministers to defuse any potential crises or escalation.

    Mar 14, 2017

  • A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter watches a convoy of his forces advancing north of Raqqa, Syria, February 5, 2017

    Commentary

    To Take Raqqa, the U.S. Must Work with Its Partner in the Fight Against the Islamic State Group

    Turkey strongly opposes the U.S. bid to arm the Syrian Kurds. Rushing into Raqqa without reaching agreement with Turkey would jeopardize larger U.S. regional and even global geopolitical objectives.

    Mar 13, 2017

  • Iraqi civilians walk in Al Mansour District as fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State fighters continues in western Mosul, Iraq, March 10, 2017

    Commentary

    Why a Dying ISIS Could Be an Even Bigger Threat

    The collapse of the so-called caliphate won't eliminate ISIS or similar groups. In the short term, the threat of ISIS-related attacks on the West may even grow.

    Mar 13, 2017

  • Report

    Development and Pilot Test of the RAND Program Evaluation Toolkit for Countering Violent Extremism

    The RAND Program Evaluation Toolkit for Countering Violent Extremism helps programs assess their activities and identify needed improvements. This report is a companion to the toolkit and provides background on its development and testing.

    Mar 13, 2017

  • Report

    Reimagining the Character of Urban Operations for the U.S. Army: How the Past Can Inform the Present and Future

    Provides a historical analysis of how militaries have deployed light and mechanized infantry with armored forces during close urban combat, to identify the comparative advantages and costs of this warfighting approach and lessons learned.

    Mar 13, 2017

  • Tool

    RAND Program Evaluation Toolkit for Countering Violent Extremism

    The RAND Program Evaluation Toolkit for Countering Violent Extremism uses checklists, worksheets, and templates to help programs assess whether their activities have met their goals and identify needed improvements.

    Mar 13, 2017

  • News Release

    RAND Study Examines 200 Real-World 'Zero-Day' Software Vulnerabilities

    Zero-day software vulnerabilities—security holes that developers haven't fixed or aren't aware of—can lurk undetected for years. They are useful in cyber operations and in defensive and academic settings. Whether to disclose or stockpile them is an ongoing debate.

    Mar 9, 2017

  • Composite image of binary code on a sunset over water

    Report

    The Life and Times of Zero-Day Software Vulnerabilities

    Zero-day software vulnerabilities—security holes that developers haven't fixed or aren't aware of—can lurk undetected for years. They are useful in cyber operations and in defensive and academic settings. Whether to disclose or stockpile them is an ongoing debate.

    Mar 9, 2017

  • North Korean ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol speaks during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Death by Nerve Gas: Two Arrests, Many Questions in Attack in Malaysia

    Details about the murder of Kim Jong-Un's half-brother are still being uncovered. If a firm connection to North Korea can be made, others in the region should react strongly. Otherwise, Kim may conclude that further provocations are worth it.

    Mar 7, 2017