Military Strategy

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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. Air Force Staff Sgt. Antonio Diaz inspects munitions before they are mounted onto an F-16C Fighting Falcon during flightline operations Jan. 9, 2015, at Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J.

    Report

    Robust Decision Making Could Help Defense Resource Planning

    Defense planning needs a new approach to identify strategies that perform well over a wide range of threat and funding futures. RDM is designed to inform decisions under conditions of deep uncertainty and complexity, and as shown in an application to the munitions mix challenge, could prove quite useful.

    Feb 1, 2016

  • Members of the 183d Air Operations Group conduct simulated battle operations during exercise Virtual Flag, December 2015

    Commentary

    Getting the Most Out of Your Wargame

    Some famous historical wargames offer a compelling narrative of what wargames can be at their best and worst, but they cannot illustrate the full range of contemporary wargaming that leaders should strive to achieve. A better understanding of how wargames can be helpful — or backfire — is critical.

    Jan 26, 2016

  • S-400 Triumf SAMs during the rehearsal for 2009 Victory Day parade in Moscow

    Commentary

    How China's New Russian Air Defense System Could Change Asia

    The Russian S-400 TRIUMF surface to air missile entered the media spotlight when Moscow deployed the system after Turkey's shoot-down of a Russian plane near the Syria border on Thanksgiving Day. This episode demonstrated the S-400's potential as a weapon with strategic effects, a role that China may seek to exploit in future crises.

    Jan 21, 2016

  • Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army of China arrive at Tiananmen Square during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, in Beijing, September 3, 2015

    Testimony

    China's Expeditionary Capabilities and Implications for U.S. Asia Policy

    Alongside China's development of many capabilities necessary to conduct missions far from its borders, China's actions to shape the international security environment are accelerating. This poses both opportunities and challenges for U.S. policymakers.

    Jan 21, 2016

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) march during the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015

    Testimony

    Developments in China's Military Force Projection and Expeditionary Capabilities

    As China's security policy shifts from homeland defense toward "peaceful expansion," there are implications for U.S. interests. What might China do next with regard to military planning and modernization—and how should the United States respond?

    Jan 21, 2016

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers practice shooting with pistols at a military base amid heavy snowfalls in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region May 23, 2014

    Testimony

    PLA Joint Training and Implications for Future Expeditionary Capabilities

    Effective joint operation capability is a centerpiece of the PLA. Joint training efforts have resulted in successes, but also have highlighted long-standing problems that military leaders recognize as obstacles to future expeditionary capabilities.

    Jan 21, 2016

  • U.S. Army paratroopers prepare to board an Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft on Aviano Air Base, Italy, January 8, 2016

    Report

    U.S. Army Must Prepare for Future Adversaries

    More than a decade in Afghanistan and Iraq has honed the U.S. Army's ability to fight irregular adversaries, but these may not be the adversaries it will face in the future. The security landscape is changing in the face of a rising China, a resurgent Russia, and a Middle East in turmoil. How can the Army prepare?

    Jan 20, 2016

  • Russian servicemen walk in formation as they take part in a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, April 16, 2015

    Commentary

    The Strange Debates of Strategy

    The United States and its allies confront a specific form of statecraft; not new, but real and relevant. And most observers who have looked at the problem tend to agree that the U.S. is ill-prepared for such tactics, in part because it simply has not thought of them as a coherent approach worthy of a tailored response.

    Jan 14, 2016

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter stands with Col. Otto Liller as he is greeted by Iraqi Major General Falah al Mohamedawi (L) at the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service Academy in Baghdad, July 23, 2015

    Commentary

    Solving the Geometrical Problem of Terrorism

    Think of terror organizations as being composed of four elements, organized in concentric circles with the leaders at the center bull's eye, operational elements in the second ring, supporters in the third, and sympathizers in the fourth. Neutralizing each group will require different strategies.

    Jan 13, 2016

  • 152-mm howitzer 2A65 Msta-B in Saint-Petersburg Artillery museum

    Commentary

    Artillery Returns to the Battlefield in the War Against ISIL

    Together with increased air attacks, the Syrians and their Russian advisors seek to revitalize combined arms forces, and artillery is critical to their vision of such forces.

    Jan 11, 2016

  • Hans Binnendijk and Andy Hoehn at the SAIS event on Strategic Rethink

    Multimedia

    Hans Binnendijk on America's Partners and Adversaries

    Hans Binnendijk argues that the United States may need to follow a more collaborative approach to foreign affairs, engaging and sharing burdens with partners who until now have not pulled their weight.

    Jan 6, 2016

  • News Release

    United States Needs a Collaborative Approach to Manage Its Adversaries and Strengthen Partnerships Abroad

    As national security challenges mount, the U.S. may need to follow a more collaborative approach to foreign affairs, engaging and sharing burdens with partners who until now have not pulled their weight.

    Jan 5, 2016

  • American and world flags as gears

    Report

    Friends, Foes, and Future Directions: U.S. Partnerships in a Turbulent World

    How should the United States manage its relationships with partners and adversaries in a world of shrinking defense budgets and reduced political will for international engagement?

    Jan 5, 2016

  • A man stands on a buring military vehicle

    Report

    Operation IRAQI FREEDOM: Decisive War, Elusive Peace

    Summarizes a classified five-volume report on the planning and execution of operations in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM through June 2004. Recommends changes to Army plans, operational concepts, doctrine, and Title 10 functions.

    Jan 4, 2016

  • Report

    Toppling the Taliban: Air-Ground Operations in Afghanistan, October 2001–June 2002

    This report describes the preparations for Operation Enduring Freedom, Army operations and support activities, coalition issues, and civil-military operations in Afghanistan from October 2001 through June 2002.

    Jan 4, 2016

  • U.S. Army automatic rifleman with Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul in Shah Joy, Afghanistan, November 2011

    Commentary

    Ground Combat

    The U.S. Army needs to pay attention to state-sponsored irregular forces, whose numbers are growing. Such groups represent the type of adversary U.S. ground forces are likely to face.

    Dec 23, 2015

  • Uniformed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, march outside a Ukrainian military base, March 5, 2014

    Commentary

    Struggle in the Gray Zone and World Order

    Recent experience suggests that the targets of gray zone campaigns recognize them for what they are — aggressive efforts to overturn the status quo. Gray zone aggression often prompts exactly the sort of reactions it's meant to avoid.

    Dec 22, 2015

  • Soldiers from 7th Special Forces Group Airborne are suspended by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during a training event Eglin Air Force Base, February 5, 2013

    Commentary

    ISIS vs Special Ops

    However critical to the fight against ISIS, using special operations forces for raids represents only half of the needed military adjustment. The other half is the effort to build indigenous forces capable of taking and holding territory in Iraq and Syria.

    Dec 8, 2015

  • Report

    Authorities for Military Operations Against Terrorist Groups: The State of the Debate and Options for Congress

    U.S. counterterrorism operations rely on authorizations from 2001 and 2002. This report surveys the debate over requirements for a new authorization, the terrorist challenge, purposes and key elements of such legislation, and congressional options.

    Dec 7, 2015

  • Marines scan the area for insurgent activity during a general support flight over Helmand province, Afghanistan

    Commentary

    To Defeat ISIS, Focus on Its Real Sources of Strength

    The threat ISIS poses today is graver than ever for two reasons: its war chest and its ability to attract foreign recruits are both at their peak. Redoubling international efforts to cut off ISIS from these two pillars of its war machine is necessary to sap the group's strength.

    Dec 4, 2015