Ensuring that a modern military has the appropriate personnel and capabilities is the key goal of military force planning. RAND research on such topics as military wages, support for military families, troop diversity, and reenlistment rates ensures that U.S. and allied militaries are well aware of issues related to career field management and personnel retention and recruitment.
It is relatively easy to criticize what's going wrong in Afghanistan. It is much harder to propose a realistic way forward. Seth Jones and Keith Crane in a new report, “Afghanistan After the Drawdown,” suggest a calibrated political and military approach that protects U.S. interests at a realistic level of manpower and investment.
As important as a bilateral security agreement is to formalize America's long-term presence in Afghanistan. The current draft doesn't spell out the details of a U.S. military presence after 2014, including the size, composition, and strategy of U.S. forces. Those details are what matter most.
If 2013 was the year of decisions, 2014 will be the year special operations forces implement their roadmap for the future. But where exactly does that road lead? The trajectory will be determined by several budgetary and policy choices that the U.S. military, policymakers and Congress will make in 2014.
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.
Both to repeat the successes of private military contracting and to avoid the mistakes of contractors in the recent wars, the Department of Defense must consider several points specific to security contractors, writes Molly Dunigan.
The urgency with which the fiscal cliff question must be addressed should not excuse faulty calculations when it comes to the U.S. military's operational and personnel needs, write Tim Bonds and Lauren Skrabala.
Honoring the sacrifices of veterans should be front and center on our policy agenda and not limited to one day a year, says Terri Tanielian.
Despite the fears of some, but in line with the experience of every other institution, both in the US and abroad, that has experienced such a transition, there have been no significant problems, writes Bernard Rostker.
The cost of providing ready aircrews, maintainers, and aircraft is one measure. But the cost of generating flying hours and satisfying ongoing operational demands must also be considered, writes Albert A. Robbert.
With U.S. troops out of Iraq, the U.S. presence there will fall to 5,000 private security contractors....The experience with private security contractors during the war was fraught with challenges that pose risks now, writes Molly Dunigan.
Reflecting changes in the American approach to counterinsurgency, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen recently enunciated a new and apparently more restrained doctrine for the use of armed force. But is this really a repudiation of the so-called Powell Doctrine, asks James Dobbins.
In recent years, U.S. commanders of the ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command have been unanimous in stating that CFC could defeat a North Korean invasion. Nevertheless, they have also expressed concern about the catastrophic damage that North Korea could do to the ROK before losing, writes Bruce Bennett.
In academia and, increasingly, corporate America, sabbaticals are a time-honored way to step aside from the daily grind and intellectually reboot. The U.S. Army should embrace something similar, writes Laura Miller.
Published commentary by RAND staff: No Need to Expand U.S. Army, in United Press International.
Published commentary by RAND staff: U.S. Doesn't Need the Draft, in United Press International.
As bipartisan arguments for larger military forces surface among commentators and political leaders, it is important to place these arguments into some meaningful analytical context. It is also wise to hearken back to the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act—and the September 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy that shaped it. In that act, Congress clearly stated that active-duty strengths should be increased over the long term.
To get needed help in Iraq, including major financial support from European Union countries, returning to the last half-century's commitment to working with others seems the obvious choice. NATO is the answer, and the sooner the better.
Despite some calls to reinstitute the draft, Beth Asch writes in an commentary that the all-volunteer military is working just fine.
Iraq will be cleansed of weapons of mass destruction and the means of making them, but the post-crisis course of U.S. policy in the Middle East is far from clear, writes Robert Hunter in an commentary.
Published commentary by RAND staff.