Asymmetric Warfare

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The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan are among the best-known recent examples of asymmetric warfare: conflicts between nations or groups that have disparate military capabilities and strategies. RAND investigates political and military responses to — and the impacts of — counterinsurgency, terrorism, and other forms of irregular warfare.

Explore Asymmetric Warfare

  • Philippine and U.S. marine soldiers in a joint military exercise in Ulugan bay, Philippines

    Blog

    The Foreign Policy Essay: The Limits of Small Footprints

    The history of “small-footprint approaches” should be sobering. It suggests that such approaches are good at preventing allied governments from losing against rebels, but are not very good at actually winning wars.

    Mar 31, 2014

  • Research Brief

    The Utility of Modeling and Analysis in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

    RAND examined the utility of operations analysis, modeling, and simulation for supporting decisionmaking in counterinsurgency and irregular warfare, with the focus on Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    Feb 10, 2014

  • Report

    Modeling, Simulation, and Operations Analysis in Afghanistan and Iraq: Operational Vignettes, Lessons Learned, and a Survey of Selected Efforts

    RAND conducted an examination of operations analysis, modeling, and simulation support to decisionmaking in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to illustrate how these tools can support decisionmaking in irregular warfare.

    Feb 10, 2014

  • Soldiers move to secure a helicopter landing zone in Paktika Province

    Blog

    Failure to Learn: Reflections on a Career in the Post-Vietnam Army

    In the aftermath of a decade of war, the Army must have an objective, serious debate — one that it never engaged in after Vietnam — to understand its experiences, both good and bad.

    Jan 27, 2014

  • Soldiers particpate in an urban combat exercise

    Report

    The 2008 Battle of Sadr City: Reimagining Urban Combat

    Coalition forces' defeat of an uprising in Sadr City helped consolidate the Government of Iraq's authority, contributing significantly to the attainment of contemporary U.S. operational objectives in Iraq.

    Jan 15, 2014

  • Report

    Assessment of Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) Training Activity

    This report assesses whether the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization's programs and functions may be duplicative with those of the military Services, U.S. Special Operations Command, and other agencies.

    Dec 11, 2013

  • Afghan artillerymen in a live-fire exercise are certified and ready to lead

    Blog

    Weighing Afghanistan in 2013 Against the Counterinsurgency Scorecard

    Early 2013 Afghanistan ranks among the historical counterinsurgency winners, but its score is equal to those of the lowest-scoring historical wins. This tenuous position points to several areas in need of improvement.

    Oct 21, 2013

  • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare homemade bombs in the Aleppo district of Salaheddine September 30, 2013

    Blog

    Syria As We Know It Is Gone

    Other than as a geographic expression, Syria has ceased to exist, writes Brian Michael Jenkins. With Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah support, Bashar Assad's forces, at the moment, appear to have gained the initiative over a fragmented rebel movement.

    Oct 16, 2013

  • Report

    Leveraging Observations of Security Force Assistance in Afghanistan for Global Operations

    Future U.S. Army Security Force Assistance missions, such as those envisioned for the U.S. Army's Regionally Aligned Forces, can benefit from the experience gained in Afghanistan as captured in this report.

    Oct 16, 2013

  • Christopher Paul, RAND senior social scientist, giving testimony

    Blog

    Christopher Paul Receives Fulbright Specialist Award

    RAND's Christopher Paul has been selected for a Fulbright Specialist project in New Zealand at Massey University's Centre for Defence and Security Studies (CDSS). Collaborating with CDSS, he will provide an internal review of the security studies curriculum and consult on the development of a new internship program and a proposed course of study on irregular warfare.

    Oct 2, 2013

  • counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan

    Blog

    Paths to Victory in the Australian Defence and Security Context

    The historical importance of commitment and motivation and the need to overmatch insurgents suggest that Australia should weigh any commitment of support against existing conditions, those that can be changed and those that can't, writes Christopher Paul.

    Oct 2, 2013

  • U.S. soldiers on a joint patrol with the Afghan National Army

    Blog

    New RAND Report Updates, Expands Research on Successful Counterinsurgency Approaches

    When a country is threatened by an insurgency, what efforts give its government the best chance of prevailing? A new update to a RAND 2010 study expands the data set of 30 insurgencies to 71, and compares all 71 of them begun and completed worldwide since World War II.

    Sep 27, 2013

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    Report

    Paths to Victory: Detailed Insurgency Case Studies

    This companion volume to Paths to Victory: Lessons from Modern Insurgencies offers in-depth case studies of 41 insurgencies since World War II. Each case breaks the conflict into phases and examines the trajectory that led to the outcome.

    Sep 26, 2013

  • U.S. soldiers on COIN operation in Iraq

    Report

    Lessons from Modern Insurgencies

    A comparison of all 71 insurgencies begun and completed worldwide since World War II finds the counterinsurgency (COIN) practices or combinations of practices that offer the most promise for a government win against an insurgency.

    Sep 26, 2013

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    Research Brief

    Preparing for "Hybrid" Opponents: Israeli Experiences in Lebanon and Gaza

    The experiences of the Israel Defense Forces against hybrid opponents — Hezbollah and Hamas — in the recent conflicts in Lebanon and Gaza will help the U.S. Army understand the capabilities that it and the joint force will require in the future.

    Sep 18, 2013

  • Kurdistan Workers' Party soldiers, commonly known as PKK near the Iran/Iraqi Kurdistan border

    Blog

    Why Erdogan Wants Peace With the PKK

    With the leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) now apparently ready to try to peacefully resolve differences with Turkey, the prospects that the uprising will come to an end have improved, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Mar 27, 2013

  • free_syrian_army_soldier_pre_baath_flag_6957563747_7e520af1f0_z

    Report

    Syria as an Arena of Strategic Competition

    Less than two years since the beginning of the uprising in Syria, localized protests have morphed into full-blown civil conflict, and external actors have become involved as well. RAND conducted an analytic exercise to generate a greater understanding of the parties and issues in play, including the actors, their motivations, and potential impact of their activities.

    Mar 18, 2013

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    Journal Article

    The Future of Insurgency

    What do key historical trends suggest about the future of insurgency? Based on an examination of quantitative and qualitative data surrounding causes of insurgency, outside support, strategies, and tactics, this report makes several arguments about the future.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • Egyptian convoy at the Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt

    Blog

    Gaza: Hard Fighting Looms Without a Broader Peace Strategy

    The United States and Israel should capitalize on Egypt's active role in mediating a cease-fire and thus revisit initiatives like the Arab Peace Initiative, which in the new regional strategic environment may be the best hope of reviving the moribund peace process before it is too late.

    Nov 20, 2012