Military Force Planning


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.

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    Measuring and Retaining the U.S. Army's Deployment Experience

    Nov 18, 2014

    The Army has contributed the bulk of deployed U.S. troops since 9/11, and has accrued substantial deployment experience. How can the U.S. prevent experience from being lost as combat operations conclude, soldiers separate from service, and Regular Army endstrength is reduced?

  • Service members from participating nations salute during the opening ceremony of Khaan Quest 2014, a multinational exercise designed to promote regional peace and security. It is co-sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and hosted annually by Mongolian Armed Forces, photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton/U.S. Army


    Key U.S. Military, Diplomatic Strategies Are Necessary to Balance China's Growing Regional Strength

    Sep 2, 2014

    Developing a strategy for the United States to address China's growing military strength should not sacrifice future cooperation between the two nations. A U.S. policy could recognize China's expanding importance in the world and its legitimate interests, while also keeping U.S. commitments to allies and partners in the region.

Explore Military Force Planning

  • U.S. Marine Corps General, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has a meet and greet with airmen on Yokota Air Base, Japan, November 4, 2015


    Investing in Military Human Capital

    A new effort to review the military's personnel system will focus initially on policies to assign, evaluate, and promote service members. To truly address systematic challenges, however, the scope will need to widen to include how the various military services might size, structure, and support key missions.

    Nov 5, 2015

  • News Release

    U.S. Military Drawdown Could Affect Gains in Service Member Diversity

    Planned, large-scale personnel reductions in the U.S. military could inadvertently reduce gains made in the racial and gender diversity of the force since the 1990s.

    Oct 26, 2015

  • U.S. Army Rangers prepare for extraction during Task Force Training on Camp Roberts, California


    U.S. Needs Larger Army, Not a Smaller One

    To meet potential challenges in the Baltics and Korea while at the same time countering the existing terror threat posed by the Islamic State group and dealing with other problems that will doubtless emerge, the United States would need more troops, not less.

    Sep 9, 2015

  • Afghan National Army soldiers, advised and assisted by NATO Train, Advise, Assist Command, conduct a fire support mission in Zabul province, Afghanistan


    In Afghanistan, the Glass Is Still Better Seen as Half Full: A Response to Gary Owen

    While things are certainly not “great” in Afghanistan, there are more reasons for hope than many had expected to see by this point in the transition from a large U.S. presence to a greatly reduced one.

    Aug 24, 2015

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    Stephen M. Drezner Dies; Former RAND Executive Researched Human-Computer Relationship

    Stephen M. Drezner, a RAND analyst and executive who conducted early research into the evolving relationship between humans and computers and later helped shape and guide the growth of the nonprofit institution over a 34-year career, died August 20. He was 77.

    Aug 24, 2015

  • U.S. Army Specialist visits his former high school as part of the Army Special Recruiter Assistance Program


    Go Slow on Arming Recruiters

    Several important voices have argued for arming military recruiters in the wake of the recent shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Giving them a chance to fight back against an active shooter may be a sound proposition, but practicalities of military recruiting suggest a patient and thoughtful policy review.

    Jul 31, 2015

  • A U.S. Army sergeant assists Iraqi army soldiers as they practice Military Operations in Urban Terrain procedures at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq


    Training Foreign Military Forces: Quality vs Quantity

    The American model for large-scale development of partner nation armies is failing. The push for numbers and the attendant dilution of training is at odds with building a cohesive army with the will to stand and fight, predicated upon an unproven assumption that a “large footprint” is itself a decisive strategy.

    Jul 15, 2015

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets soldiers after delivering remarks on his Force of the Future initiative in Fort Drum, N.Y., March 30, 2015


    A 'Measured Approach' to Managing Military Officers

    Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's “Force of the Future” initiative may mean far-reaching changes in how military personnel are recruited, evaluated, assigned, promoted, retained, separated, and compensated. What is needed is a map that shows potential paths to reach the objectives.

    Jul 15, 2015

  • A checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on March 10, 2012


    Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    If neither victory nor a political settlement are likely in the short term, and if complete withdrawal is unpalatable, then the United States must ensure that its support of Afghanistan remains politically sustainable.

    Jul 6, 2015

  • Platoon leaders and platoon sergeants marching during the Headhunter leadership challenge at Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 15, 2014


    The Most Enduring Lesson: People

    Given the complex, technology-heavy, and conceptually-nuanced environment of today's military, the quality of military personnel is the dominant form of competitive advantage. All the services today place maintaining a high-quality force at the top of their list of priorities.

    Apr 10, 2015

  • Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani inspects the honour guard during a graduation ceremony at the National Military Academy in Kabul, March 18, 2015


    Q&A: What to Expect from Ghani's U.S. Visit

    With Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's first official visit to the United States set to begin Sunday, a trio of RAND researchers discuss what to expect after the president and his chief executive officer, Abdullah Abdullah, arrive in Washington.

    Mar 20, 2015

  • U.S. sailors conduct maintenance on an F/A-18C Hornet on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson Jan. 4, 2015


    Advice for Defense Innovators

    Today's leaders should follow the example of their predecessors and closely evaluate a few well-defined scenarios, such as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or a Russian invasion of a NATO member state to determine the most serious gaps in U.S. and allied capabilities.

    Jan 12, 2015

  • Afghan National Army soldiers walk at the Forward Base in Nari district near the army outpost in Kunar province, February 24, 2014


    What's the Plan? The Afghan National Security Forces

    The Afghan National Security Forces remain very much a work in progress. In the coming months, the resiliency and cohesiveness of the ANSF will be put to the test as the NATO coalition transitions to a non-combat mission. Growing pains can be expected.

    Dec 2, 2014

  • Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a blast in Kabul November 18, 2014


    What's the Plan? The NATO Coalition in Afghanistan

    The imminent changes to the NATO mission in Afghanistan will be profound and, more crucially, carry unpredictable outcomes. After January 1, the removal of tens of thousands of coalition troops will trigger an inevitable period of adjustment as all sides involved in the conflict press for a new equilibrium that tilts in its favor.

    Nov 19, 2014

  • News Release

    Military Retirement Compensation System Can Be Improved to Cut Costs and Improve Equity

    The U.S. Department of Defense can change its retirement system in ways that will save between $1.8 and $4.4 billion a year, while extending benefits to more veterans and maintaining its attraction as a recruiting tool.

    Nov 12, 2014

  • Paratroopers depart Lielvarde Airbase, Latvia, Sept. 8, 2014, at the conclusion of a NATO exercise involving over 2,000 troops from 10 nations that focuses on increasing interoperability and synchronizing complex operations


    The More Options, the Better

    Preserving the ability of the United States to choose how it will respond to global events is essential. And maintaining options is critical to the calculus.

    Sep 23, 2014

  • A view from the deck of the Chinese PLA Naval ship Haikou; for the first time, China participates in RIMPAC, the world's largest biennial naval exercise between the U.S. and Pacific Rim nations


    A U.S. Strategy for Dealing with China

    Developing a next generation strategy for dealing with China will require the United States to sculpt a balanced and flexible approach that protects U.S. interest in East Asia while at the same time fosters cooperation with China on issues of common concern.

    Sep 3, 2014

  • News Release

    Key U.S. Military, Diplomatic Strategies Are Necessary to Balance China's Growing Regional Strength

    Developing a strategy for the United States to address China's growing military strength should not sacrifice future cooperation between the two nations.

    Sep 2, 2014

  • Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade training with NATO allies in Poland


    Rethinking U.S. Force Planning

    While the renewed interest in crisis response forces by the military services is welcome in these times of uncertainty, forces that are permanently assigned to a geographic combatant command and based in a region continue to offer distinct benefits. RAND research has shown that an overseas presence enhances contingency responsiveness in most cases.

    May 16, 2014

  • News Release

    Increasing Numbers of U.S. Army Recruits Enlist Some Years After High School

    More than half of all U.S. Army recruits are choosing to join later in life instead of immediately after high school graduation, but these older recruits tend to reenlist and be promoted at greater rates than their younger peers.

    Apr 23, 2014