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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  • U.S. Army Special Forces members train Iraqi fighters from Hashid Shaabi at Makhmur camp in Iraq, December 11, 2016

    Commentary

    SOF's Evolving Role: Warfare 'By, With, and Through' Local Forces

    U.S. special operations forces are not providing the muscle of the frontline combat troops fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Instead, they are providing meaningful support to the various indigenous forces. If they succeed, this model could become a standard option in the U.S. military playbook.

    May 9, 2017

  • Testimony

    Deterring Russian Aggression in the Baltic States: What it Takes to Win: Addendum

    Document submitted April 17, 2017, as an addendum to testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces on March 1, 2017.

    May 2, 2017

  • Estonian and U.S. soldiers conduct live-fire training during a combat exercise near Tapa, Estonia, April 6, 2017

    Commentary

    How Trump Can Deter Russia and All of America's Other Enemies

    There is no such thing as blanket deterrence. Rather, one must deter a specific adversary from taking a specific action. A holistic approach should include ramping up U.S. capabilities to anticipate emerging threats, including events that are unlikely to happen.

    Apr 26, 2017

  • Multimedia

    Direction of Foreign Policy in Trump Administration's First 100 Days

    In this Call with the Experts, RAND senior fellow, James Dobbins, as well as RAND senior international policy analyst, Linda Robinson, discuss the Trump administration's emerging foreign policy strategy as it approaches the symbolic 100-day milestone.

    Apr 26, 2017

  • Locals read promotional boards about planned economic zones along the China-North Korea border in Nanping, China, March 27, 2017

    Commentary

    Despite Promising Signs, China's North Korea Policy Unchanged

    Official statements and public discussions on China's willingness to punish or otherwise influence North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a direction favorable to U.S. interests have been optimistic lately. But China's continued support of the North should temper expectations.

    Apr 24, 2017

  • Research Brief

    Domestic Factors Could Accelerate the Evolution of China's Nuclear Posture

    This brief discusses how domestic factors could influence China's evolving nuclear deterrent.

    Apr 20, 2017

  • People's Liberation Army soldiers march outside the Great Hall of the People ahead of the opening session of the National People's Congress in Beijing, China, March 5, 2017

    Testimony

    Chinese Contingency Planning for Regional Hotspots

    The Chinese People's Liberation Army has modernized significantly over the past two decades—bringing in world-class inventory and new technology. But the major issue facing the PLA remains its ability to adequately train and prepare staffs for a range of scenarios.

    Apr 13, 2017

  • An American flag behind a chess board

    Commentary

    A Three-Menu Path for Trump Foreign Policy

    The Trump administration would benefit from a comprehensive strategic orientation — a basic set of operating principles backed by a set of actions and realistic budget — to guide the innumerable tactical decisions of U.S. foreign policy.

    Apr 10, 2017

  • A battle damage assessment image of Shayrat Airfield, Syria, following U.S. missile strikes, April 6, 2017

    Commentary

    The Need for a Strategy from the Trump Administration

    The Trump administration's strategy toward Syria, Russia, and its campaign to counter the Islamic State group needs to be guided by a clear sense of priorities and realism regarding the stakes for the U.S. Its standing in the Middle East and the world could depend on how skillfully this crisis is handled.

    Apr 10, 2017

  • Report

    Tactical Cyber: Building a Strategy for Cyber Support to Corps and Below

    This report proposes a strategy for tactical Army cyber operations, enumerating overarching goals, objectives, and associated activities. Instructive case studies are provided that support implementation of the strategy.

    Mar 28, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference in Moscow, December 23, 2016

    Commentary

    What Americans Need to Know if Russia Intervenes in Libya's Civil War

    Indications that Russia could intervene militarily in Libya's civil war are growing. If it does, the Trump White House will face a tangle of unpleasant choices with far-reaching consequences.

    Mar 26, 2017

  • 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 the Taliban from overthrowing the Afghan government, encourage political reconciliation, and pursue terrorists that threaten the United States.

    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

  • 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

  • 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