Military Planning

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RAND research on military strategy has ranged from issues related to the tactics that lead to success in armed engagements, to work that describes how the size and deployment of one nation's military affects its political relationships with others.

  • CH-47 Chinook helicopters land outside of the village of Abd al Hasan, Iraq, to pick up U.S. and Iraqi Army Soldiers, photo by Staff Sgt. Dallas Edwards/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Lessons from Past 13 Years of War Can Improve Future Strategy

    Oct 14, 2014

    Lessons from the past 13 years of war provide insight into the future operating environment and identify critical requirements for land and special operations forces to collaborate successfully with various partners in future conflicts.

Explore Military Strategy

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2015

    Commentary

    Iran Deal or No Deal

    A U.S. rejection of the Iran nuclear agreement would send the wrong message, not only to Iran but also to America's closest allies, and it would not serve American interests in the region.

    Jul 22, 2015

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a July 14, 2015 news conference that Israel would not be bound by the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran

    Commentary

    Peace in the Middle East: America's New Post-Iran Deal Challenge

    It is no surprise that the final Iran nuclear deal was met with opposition in Israel and Saudi Arabia. For all the talk about whether or not this is a good deal, negotiating with Iran was the original sin from their perspective.

    Jul 20, 2015

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu arriving for the opening of the Army-2015 international military forum in Kubinka, Russia, June 16, 2015

    Commentary

    We Face a New, Dangerous Age of Nuclear Weapons Rivalry

    Escalating competition among major powers is amplifying the role of nuclear weapons in defense policies, including more easily used — and thus especially dangerous — tactical nuclear forces. Before it becomes too late, the U.S. should design and lead a new campaign to control nuclear risk.

    Jul 16, 2015

  • A poster of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, and others behind Iranian, Syrian, Lebanese, and Hezbollah flags during Resistance and Liberation Day celebrations in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, May 25, 2014

    Commentary

    Global Terror Network Will Get a Boost from Iran Nuclear Deal

    Iranian sponsorship of terrorist organizations cannot be divorced from the negotiations because the sanctions that will be lifted provide new sources of funding to reinforce the Iran threat network. A global strategy to address the Iran threat network is essential to stability in the region.

    Jul 15, 2015

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif waves after a plenary session at the UN building, Vienna, July 14, 2015

    Commentary

    The Iran Nuclear Deal: RAND Experts Answer Questions About the Days Ahead

    Diplomats have reached a nuclear agreement with Iran. Now, the United States faces important policy decisions that will help shape the days ahead and the relationship that emerges between Iran and the other parties involved.

    Jul 14, 2015

  • Meeting to discuss Iran nuclear deal at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne March 29, 2015

    Project

    The Days After a Deal with Iran

    Now that a nuclear agreement has been struck, what will be the implications for U.S. regional strategy, Iran's own foreign policy orientation, the response from regional partners, the global non-proliferation regime, and the role of Congress in implementation of the agreement?

    Jul 14, 2015

  • A J-31 stealth fighter of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force landing

    Commentary

    RAND Conference Examines Chinese Aerospace Training and Leadership

    To help foster a better understanding of the aerospace component of China's military modernization efforts, participants from the U.S. Air Force, the DoD, and the public policy research and academic communities gathered for the inaugural CASI conference.

    Jul 10, 2015

  • U.S. soldiers rush a building during a platoon live-fire demonstration for Iraqi army trainees and officers on Camp Taji, Iraq, Feb. 5, 2015

    Commentary

    An Authorization for the Fight Against the Islamic State

    The U.S. military is conducting some 2,000 airstrikes a month against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria but progress is slow and the terrorist group has expanded far beyond those two countries. Congress needs now more than ever to take up the issue of authorizing the use of military force.

    Jul 9, 2015

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in front of Palais Coburg, the venue for the Iran nuclear talks, Vienna, Austria, July 5, 2015

    Commentary

    Here's What Will Happen If the Iran Deal Falls Through

    Even a strong nonproliferation agreement that prevents all pathways toward the Iranian bomb won't magically transform the Middle East. But on balance, the region would be better off with a good nuclear deal than without one.

    Jul 7, 2015

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin at the opening of the Army-2015 international military forum in Kubinka, Russia, June 16, 2015

    Commentary

    The Baltic Balance: How to Reduce the Chances of War in Europe

    Recent announcements of increased U.S. military support in the Baltics are a positive step in addressing a major new challenge to European security.

    Jul 2, 2015

  • Report

    A Surprise Out of Zion? Case Studies in Israel's Decisions on Whether to Alert the United States to Preemptive and Preventive Strikes, from Suez to the Syrian Nuclear Reactor

    Examines four key historical cases in which Israeli prime ministers chose preemptive or preventive military strikes and had to decide whether to notify or consult with the United States.

    Jun 29, 2015

  • Senior Colonel Yang Yujun holds a copy of the annual white paper on China's military strategy, Beijing, China, May 26, 2015

    Commentary

    What to Make of the White Paper on China's Military Strategy

    Reflecting critical developments under the Xi administration, China's recent “Military Strategy” white paper signals a turn toward a potentially more coercive phase of China's rise.

    Jun 27, 2015

  • Iraqi soldiers perform physical training with 82nd Airborne

    Testimony

    An Assessment of the Counter-ISIL Campaign: One Year After Mosul

    ISIL's continuing strength demonstrates that adjustments to the current U.S. approach to counter it are necessary. The best strategy is to defeat and destroy ISIL through a partnered approach. But partnering with the Iraqi government presents a difficult challenge.

    Jun 24, 2015

  • Sunni tribal fighters stand guard near a school used as a shelter for displaced people in the city of Ramadi, April 11, 2015

    Commentary

    The Enemy You Know and the Ally You Don't

    Arming Iraq's Sunni militias to fight the Islamic State may seem like a quick fix, but newly declassified documents suggest it might only add fuel to the fire.

    Jun 23, 2015

  • Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani talks with Royal Saudi Land Forces Commander Lieutenant General Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud at a joint military exercise in Mangla, Pakistan, October 6, 2011

    Commentary

    What Pakistan and Saudi Arabia Want from Each Other

    Whatever overlapping interests they may have in dangerous groups like Lashkar-e Taiba, the Saudis and Pakistanis have much bigger reasons for seeking each other's friendship. These reasons may be largely transactional, but the transaction has been a mutually beneficial one for nearly 40 years.

    Jun 17, 2015

  • The USS Fort Worth conducts patrols in international waters of the South China Sea, near the Spratly Islands

    Commentary

    Why the United States Needs an Active Denial Strategy for Asia

    The evolving balance of power will require adjustments to U.S. strategy. Making those adjustments will help ensure that the U.S.-China relationship, now merely tense, doesn't escalate to hostile.

    Jun 8, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Deterring Without Dominance: Discouraging Chinese Adventurism Under Austerity

    Active denial would make the U.S. position in Asia more resilient.

    Jun 3, 2015

  • U.S. Army Soldiers walk through a market in Ebnkathwer, Iraq, March 3, 2010

    Commentary

    Land Power and a Third Offset Through a Wide-Angle Lens

    The so-called “third offset” is intended to guide U.S. defense strategy. The right way to view it is as part of a comprehensive vision for competitive advantage, one in which land power, often minimized in offset analyses, can play a central role.

    May 21, 2015

  • A fighter of the Kurdish People's Protection Units fires an anti-aircraft weapon at Islamic State fighters in Tel Tamer, Syria, February 25, 2015

    Testimony

    Historical Lessons for the Wars in Iraq and Syria

    The wars in Iraq and Syria are deeply intertwined and must thus be dealt with simultaneously. Understanding the factors that brought past insurgencies to an end can provide lessons for how to proceed.

    Apr 30, 2015

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brief reporters at the Pentagon on April 16, 2015

    Commentary

    Fixes for Risk Assessment in Defense

    Defense Department approaches to risk management could be improved if they focused on complex strategic judgments — questions on which information is imperfect, dozens of variables interact in nonlinear ways, and human choice and agency generate unpredictable patterns.

    Apr 22, 2015