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

  • People walk in front of the remains of the University of Mosul, which was burned and destroyed during a battle with Islamic State militants, in Mosul, Iraq, April 10, 2017.

    Commentary

    Moving Beyond Mosul

    The Islamic State group has been defeated in Mosul. But this military routing isn't enough to ensure lasting stability, either in Mosul or in Iraq more broadly. What comes next will require careful planning, diplomacy, implementation, and coordination.

    Jul 18, 2017

  • Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front ride on a pickup truck mounted with an anti-aircraft weapon in Ariha, Syria, May 29, 2015

    Testimony

    How Al-Qaida Could Resurge

    Several factors may impact al-Qaida's rise or decline over the next several years. Most of these are outside of al-Qaida's control, but much would depend on how al-Qaida or similar groups responded to them.

    Jul 13, 2017

  • A member of Iraqi security forces holds an Islamic State flag on the top of a destroyed building from clashes in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 10, 2017

    Testimony

    The Terrorist Diaspora: After the Fall of the Caliphate

    As operations against ISIS in Mosul conclude, militants are likely already fleeing—and preparing to wage jihad elsewhere. How can the United States identify and mitigate the threat posed by these foreign fighters?

    Jul 13, 2017

  • A tank belonging to special forces of the Libyan army enters the area of clashes with Islamist militants in their last stronghold in Benghazi, Libya, July 5, 2017

    Commentary

    How the Gulf Row Could Tear Libya Apart Even Further

    Since Gadhafi was removed from power, Gulf nations have been vying for position in Libya through proxy forces to influence political outcomes. Libya's rival militias — armed and funded by their respective Gulf sponsors — set the framework for the civil conflict that erupted in 2014 and continues today. Current tensions between Qatar and its neighbors are adding to the instability.

    Jul 7, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks to journalists following a live nationwide broadcast in Moscow, June 15, 2017

    Report

    Strengthening Strategic Stability with Russia

    Strategic stability between the United States and Russia is eroding, but the two countries still share a deep interest in avoiding nuclear war. Strengthening stability will be challenging. Meaningful progress will require courage and sacrifices on both sides.

    Jul 7, 2017

  • Iraqi soldiers pose with the Islamic State flag in al-Shura, Iraq, which they recaptured on October 30, 2016

    Blog

    Vickers, Crocker, Bergen, and Mudd Headline RAND ISIS Conference

    Panelists at a RAND conference on ISIS agreed that efforts to protect the U.S. homeland and conduct campaigns to dismantle extremist groups have had success. But many long-term challenges to the broader world order remain that will require strategic patience.

    Jul 6, 2017

  • The Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

    Commentary

    How to Harden America's Soft Targets

    The U.S. government has to make choices about where to apply limited resources to the defense of soft targets. But it could expand its information-sharing efforts with other governments and local law enforcement. Broad intelligence sharing and more training could help identify potential attackers before they can execute their plans.

    Jul 5, 2017

  • The Grand al-Nuri Mosque where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a new caliphate in July 2014 is seen in ruins after it was retaken by Iraqi forces from Islamic State militants, June 30, 2017

    Commentary

    Can the Islamic State Survive If Baghdadi Is Dead?

    If and when self-declared Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is killed, it will have little effect on the threat posed by the Islamic State to global security. The far more important objective is to continue dismantling the organization as a whole, including its affiliates in Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, and Afghanistan.

    Jun 30, 2017

  • Two women pay their respects to victims of the bombing in Manchester, Britain, May 23, 2017

    Commentary

    It's Difficult to Know If Counter-Extremism Programs in Europe Are Working

    The benefits of a stronger evaluation culture for counter-extremism and radicalization programs are clear. Evaluation can provide an evidence-based judgement as to whether a program is working, delivering expected results, and providing value for the cost.

    Jun 26, 2017

  • Afghan local police (ALP) sit at the back of a truck near a frontline during a battle with the Taliban at Qalay-i-zal district, in Kunduz province, Afghanistan August 1, 2015

    Commentary

    Trump's Options for Afghanistan: Losing or Not Losing

    The Trump administration faces the choice of losing quickly by withdrawing from Afghanistan; losing slowly by maintaining America's current, inadequate commitment; or not losing by increasing that commitment enough to maintain a stalemate on the battlefield.

    Jun 23, 2017

  • Report

    Support to the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center: Enabling AFIMSC's Role in Agile Combat Support Planning, Execution, Monitoring, and Control

    This report provides a strategic view of the analytical capabilities that are needed by the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center to allocate resources to and assess the performance of installation and mission support activities.

    Jun 23, 2017

  • A Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units watches smoke rise after a coalition airstrike in Raqqa, Syria, June 16, 2017

    Commentary

    The Islamic State's Disposable Army

    To leaders of the Islamic State group, murder of its own and collective suicide are keys to its defense strategy. The group targets malcontents and the most suggestible, knowing they are desperate to belong to something and willing to die for it.

    Jun 20, 2017

  • Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers take part in an annual training session near Mount Fuji at Higashifuji training field in Gotemba, west of Tokyo, August 25, 2016

    Commentary

    Giving Japan a Military

    After 70 years, Japan may finally be on the cusp of acquiring its own military. Legally, that is. Prime Minister Abe has proposed a change to Japan's constitution to give legal standing to the Self-Defense Forces, and it's long overdue.

    Jun 20, 2017

  • Exercise Anakonda 2016, Exercise Anakonda 16, Anakonda 16, AK16, AN16, Poland, MTA Drawsko Pomorski, DPTA, MTA Chelmno, MTA Wedryzn, MTA Krosno Odrzanskie, MTA Nowa Deba, Jaworze Training Area, Gdynia Training Area, Ustka, U.S. Army Europe, USAREUR, U.S. European Command, EUCOM, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 364th ESC, 311th Expeditionary Sustainment, Command, 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 451st Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 412th Theater Engineer Command, 469th Combat Support, 483rd Quartermaster Company, 328th Adjutant General Company, 236th Transportation Company, 592nd Ordnance Company, 716th Quartermaster Company, 129th Transportation Company, 361st Engineer Company, 380th Transportation Element, 3d Infantry Division, 3d ID, Fort Stewart, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 173rd Airborne Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, airborne, paratrooper, Stryker, ordnance, ammunition supply, engineer, transportation, quartermaster, petroleum, adjutant general, multi-role bridge, inland cargo, movement control teams, combat service support, combat sustainment, maintenance support, 2X Citizen, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army Reserve Command, U.S. Army Reserve photo, U.S. Army Reserve photograph, U.S. Army Reserve photographer, U.S. Army Reserve photojournalism, Army photo, Army photographer, Army photojournalism, Army picture, Federal Reserve, Operational Reserve, Twice the Citizen, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army Reserve Command, USARC, Warrior-Citizen, military photograph, military photography, military photojournalism, military picture, reserve component, Albania, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, U.S., U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army National Guard, 4th ID, 4th Infantry Division

    Report

    NATO's Northeastern Flank: Emerging Opportunities for Engagement

    This report examines the impact of renewed tension between NATO and Russia on key allies and partners in central and northeastern Europe to identify how changes in their interests, strategies, and capabilities affect U.S. partnering in the region.

    Jun 20, 2017

  • Chemical experts inspect the site of a suicide truck bomb attack at a petrol station in Hilla, Iraq, November 25, 2016

    Commentary

    Can We Predict Where Terrorists Will Strike Next?

    Terrorism has escalated horizontally, not vertically. Instead of weapons of mass destruction, there has been a proliferation of low-level attacks. The trick will be to predict and prevent new plots.

    Jun 19, 2017

  • Smoke rises from the al-Mishlab district in Raqqa's southeastern outskirts, Syria, June 7, 2017

    Commentary

    When the Caliphate Falls, What Then for U.S. Policy?

    The eventual fall of ISIS-controlled Raqqa will necessitate a review of U.S. policy in Syria. Policymakers can start thinking about the questions it will raise now.

    Jun 16, 2017

  • Report

    Cyber Power Potential of the Army's Reserve Component

    Describes the availability of personnel with cyber skills in the private sector and the number of Army reserve component soldiers available to support the Army's cyber mission needs.

    Jun 15, 2017

  • Soldiers pose for photo during International Maritime and Defense Industry Exposition in Kaohsiung, Taiwan September 16, 2016

    Commentary

    Taiwan's 2017 Quadrennial Defense Review in Context

    Taiwan's 2017 Quadrennial Defense Review is consistent with past reviews on defense strategy, reform of the military service system, and defense budget constraints. It also emphasizes the importance to President Tsai of Taiwan's domestic defense industry and shows uncertainty about U.S. Asia policy.

    Jun 14, 2017

  • Global network and information connection

    Report

    Social Media Analysis Could Support Information Operations

    Social media analysis could provide a window into the perspectives and communications of adversaries and other key audiences. If DoD seeks to expand its capability in this area, it must navigate U.S. law, cultural norms, and other issues.

    Jun 14, 2017

  • Report

    Sustaining the Army's Reserve Components as an Operational Force

    This report identifies emerging policy lessons regarding the use of, and reforms to, the U.S. Army's Reserve Components (RCs) as an operational reserve derived from analyses of their contributions to recent contingency operations.

    Jun 12, 2017