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.

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  • Afghan security forces take position during a gun battle between Taliban and Afghan security forces in Laghman province, Afghanistan, March 1, 2017

    Commentary

    How Trump Should Manage Afghanistan

    While media coverage has focused on Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan remains an important frontline state in the fight against terrorism. The Trump administration should aim to prevent Taliban forces from overthrowing the Afghan government, encourage political reconciliation where feasible, and pursue terrorists that threaten the U.S.

    Mar 21, 2017

  • A new multi-role Russian MiG-35 fighter flies during its international presentation at the MiG plant in Lukhovitsy outside Moscow, Russia January 27, 2017.

    Commentary

    Thinking Constructively About Overmatch

    To regain military superiority the Pentagon has suggested a strategy that focuses on emerging technologies and deterrence. But it will need more than new technologies to deter and respond to aggression; it should also take into account grand strategy and acquisition considerations and keep countering Russia and China a top priority.

    Mar 21, 2017

  • Soldiers drive a CM33 Clouded Leopard infantry fighting vehicle during the annual Han Kuang military drill simulating the PLA invading the island, in southern Taiwan, August 25, 2016

    Commentary

    Why China Will Not Unify with Taiwan by 2020

    The prospects for peaceful unification of China and Taiwan continue to dim. Nothing Beijing has tried to woo or coerce Taiwan has worked. For those determined to compel Taiwan's unification, military subjugation remains a last option. But it would only worsen China's security environment.

    Mar 21, 2017

  • Risk board game

    Commentary

    Why Strategies Disappoint — and How to Fix Them

    Strategies fail because leaders are unwilling to make difficult decisions — to focus on one threat as opposed to another, prioritize resources, and then explain their decisions publicly — at the risk of being wrong. Can the new U.S. administration succeed in fixing the strategy process?

    Mar 20, 2017

  • Military vehicles carrying DF-26 ballistic missiles travel past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Beijing, September 3, 2015

    Report

    China's Evolving Approach to Nuclear Deterrence

    China's nuclear posture has been consistent since 1964. But in recent years, China has increased the numbers of its missiles and warheads and improved the quality of its force. Understanding its future nuclear direction is critical to shaping U.S. strategy.

    Mar 15, 2017

  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (right) greets Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the State Department in Washington, February 28, 2017

    Commentary

    What Are the Chances of the U.S. and China Going to War?

    War between the United States and China seems far-fetched. But complacency would be a mistake. Washington and Beijing should keep a direct channel open between their defense ministers to defuse any potential crises or escalation.

    Mar 14, 2017

  • Iraqi civilians walk in Al Mansour District as fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State fighters continues in western Mosul, Iraq, March 10, 2017

    Commentary

    Why a Dying ISIS Could Be an Even Bigger Threat

    The collapse of the so-called caliphate won't eliminate ISIS or similar groups. In the short term, the threat of ISIS-related attacks on the West may even grow.

    Mar 13, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with his new National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster after making the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, February 20, 2017

    Commentary

    A More Public National Security Strategy Discussion

    President Trump has proposed an increase of $54 billion in defense spending, about 10 percent more than the current budget. But what is the national security strategy that supports this reallocation of resources? A comprehensive discussion of threats to U.S. interests and strategies to address them is in order.

    Mar 7, 2017

  • Counterterrorism service troops advance towards Ghozlani military complex, south of Mosul, Iraq, February 23, 2017

    Commentary

    For U.S., Many Options but No Clear Path in Middle East

    The struggle against jihadist terrorism has a long way to go. All courses of action come with risks, but are not mutually exclusive. The U.S. could escalate the fight, attack the root causes of terrorism, reduce the ungoverned spaces where terrorists find sanctuary, work with state partners in the Middle East, or withdraw from the region.

    Mar 6, 2017

  • Illustration of the flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union

    Report

    What Are the Defense and Security Implications of Brexit?

    Brexit negotiations have focused on trade, sovereignty, and immigration. But the UK's decision to leave the EU also raises important defense and security questions for the UK, Europe, and the world.

    Mar 5, 2017

  • Report

    Defence and security after Brexit: Understanding the possible implications of the UK's decision to leave the EU — Overview report

    This RAND study examines the potential defence and security implications of the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union ('Brexit'), whether for the UK, Europe or globally.

    Mar 5, 2017

  • New U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is greeted by Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrives at the Pentagon outside Washington, U.S., January 21, 2017

    Commentary

    Five Simple Strategy Lessons for a New Secretary of Defense

    Secretary of Defense James Mattis will need to lay the intellectual groundwork to fulfill President Trump's promise of “a great rebuilding” of the United States military. History suggests that how the strategies are developed may be as important to their success as what they say.

    Mar 2, 2017

  • Multimedia

    Limiting Regret and Deterring Russian Aggression in the Baltic States

    Testimonies presented before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces on March 1, 2017.

    Mar 1, 2017

  • U.S. Army sergeant helps direct an M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle off a flatbed on Tapa Army Base, Estonia, June 4, 2015

    Testimony

    What It Takes to Deter Russian Aggression in the Baltics

    The United States and NATO face several challenges in deterring Russia in the Baltics. Solving these is vital to achieving core U.S. objectives in Europe. The first step is to ensure that NATO can stay in the game and deny Moscow an easy strategic victory.

    Mar 1, 2017

  • Alaska Air Guardsmen bid farewell to last C-130 Hercules aircraft, March 4, 2017

    Report

    Air Force Strategic Planning

    With the U.S. Air Force facing pressure to reduce its headquarters staff, many question the utility of strategic planning and the need to produce public strategy documents. A look at past efforts finds that strategic planning is still needed, but perhaps not in its current form.

    Feb 28, 2017

  • Taiwanese soldiers salute from tanks during a military exercise in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan, July 4, 2015

    Report

    Transforming Taiwan's Reserve Force

    As the political-military challenge from China grows, Taiwan's reserve force may need to play a more prominent role in Taipei's approach to deterring Chinese aggression. Changing its reserve force size, structure, roles, missions, equipment, and training could help Taiwan offset PLA advantages.

    Feb 22, 2017

  • U.S. Army soldiers board a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at the Joint Multinational Training Command's Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, August 13, 2013

    Testimony

    How to Restore the Power Projection Capabilities of the U.S. Armed Forces

    To help put the United States back on a path toward fielding forces that can defeat any adversary, the DoD needs money and insight. The latter can help inform decisionmaking. The former would let the DoD develop, acquire, and field new systems and postures.

    Feb 16, 2017

  • Somali government soldiers secure the scene of an explosion in front of Dayah hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, January 25, 2017

    Commentary

    U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy Must Be About More Than ISIS

    ISIS is a worthy candidate for eradication, but failing to also target its franchises, al-Qaida splinters, and other non-aligned groups in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia could allow other threats to metastasize.

    Feb 9, 2017

  • Report

    Smarter Power, Stronger Partners, Volume II: Trends in Force Projection Against Potential Adversaries

    This book describes scenarios to test whether the anti-access and area-denial threat to U.S. force projection is growing more severe. They describe plausible U.S. and adversary military actions given current operational capabilities and approaches.

    Feb 8, 2017

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, September 4, 2016

    Commentary

    Taking Stock of the U.S. Rebalance and the Contest for Influence in Asia

    Since 2011, the U.S. has carried out measures designed to bolster its influence in Asia, a region that is projected to play a central role in driving global economic growth. Despite steady progress, with increased diplomatic outreach to China and its neighbors, doubts about the U.S. pivot to Asia have persisted.

    Jan 19, 2017