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.

  • 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

  • Report

    Special Warfare: The Missing Middle in U.S. Coercive Options

    RAND authors analyze the options for using special warfare to fill the gap in coercive strategies between the costly commitment of conventional forces and the limits of precision-strike campaigns, including its characteristics, advantages, and risks.

    Jan 27, 2015

  • Iraqi security forces guard during the building of a new road between Diyala province and Samarra December 21, 2014. The Badr Organization, a leading political party and militia with ties to Iran, is supervising the new road.

    Commentary

    Salvaging Iraq

    The Iranian government, particularly the Revolutionary Guards, is playing a huge role in helping the Iraqi security forces fight the Islamic State. Iraq and Iran share a 910-mile border that is mostly porous. Iraq's territorial integrity is critical for Iran too.

    Jan 26, 2015

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during a news conference at the 69th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 26, 2014

    Commentary

    Congress Should Delay New Iran Sanctions

    The new Congress is racing to pass legislation that would institute new sanctions on Iran during ongoing nuclear negotiations. This undermines U.S. efforts to peacefully eliminate the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

    Jan 23, 2015

  • Saudi border guards patrol Saudi Arabia's northern border with Iraq

    Commentary

    ISIS Aims to Occupy Mecca

    As ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reaches for control of the holy sites in and around Mecca and Medina and the wealth that comes with them, the U.S., NATO, and others should consider providing significant equipment and know-how to shore up the border defenses of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan.

    Jan 19, 2015

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

    Commentary

    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

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif before a meeting in Vienna November 23, 2014

    Commentary

    An Iran Nuclear Deal Is Still Possible, and Here's Why

    The United States and other world powers returned to the negotiating table this week to try to finalize a nuclear agreement with Iran after announcing a seven-month extension in late November. How did the parties get this far?

    Dec 19, 2014

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    Multimedia

    Lessons from 13 Years of War

    In this podcast, Linda Robinson discusses how U.S. conventional and special operations forces have worked closely together during the past 13 years and how special operations forces could be used in current conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

    Dec 10, 2014

  • Research Brief

    Lessons from 13 Years of War Point to a Better U.S. Strategy

    This brief summarizes seven lessons from the past 13 years of war and identifies critical requirements for land forces, special operations forces, and partners to collaborate successfully.

    Dec 10, 2014

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    Multimedia

    The Challenges for Democracies Facing Asymmetric Conflicts

    In this podcast, Admiral Amichay Ayalon and Brian Michael Jenkins discuss lessons learned in using military force in response to terrorism, and their legal, ethical, and moral implications.

    Dec 4, 2014

  • The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin fires two SM-2 missiles during Exercise Valiant Shield 2014

    Testimony

    The Role of Maritime and Air Power in the DoD's Third Offset Strategy

    Russia and China have been investing in military modernization programs to blunt the U.S. military's technological edge, fielding advanced aircraft, submarines, and both longer range and more accurate missiles. The DoD's Third Offset Strategy is a much-needed initiative to identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America's military dominance for the 21st century.

    Dec 2, 2014

  • Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev meets with U.S. President Barack Obama during a nuclear security summit in April 2010

    Commentary

    Celebrating the Success of Project Sapphire

    Twenty years ago this week, the United States transported over 600 kilograms of at-risk, weapons-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Kazakhstan to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for safekeeping. Kazakhstan had the courage to trust its new relationship with the U.S. to help prevent the proliferation of dangerous material to countries that might seek to build nuclear weapons.

    Nov 21, 2014

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

    Commentary

    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

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    Report

    Saving the Government Money: Examples from RAND's FFRDCs

    RAND's three federally funded research and development centers apply research capital they have developed over the years to help decisionmakers solve problems and often save money as well. This publication lists and briefly summarizes some RAND projects undertaken over the past ten years that have helped save the government money or that have identified ways to do so.

    Oct 27, 2014

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells the 69th U.N. General Assembly on September 29 that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far greater threat to the world than Islamic State militants

    Commentary

    Not to Worry, Israel

    Some Israelis worry that America's fight against the Islamic State is distracting from the Iranian nuclear challenge. But the idea that the U.S. would make additional concessions to Iran in the nuclear negotiations because of the anti-Islamic State group effort is not based on realities on the ground.

    Oct 23, 2014

  • U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency from the Justice Department in Washington January 17, 2014

    Commentary

    Is Obama a Modern-Day Quintus Fabius Maximus?

    Critics say President Obama dragged his feet on sending more troops to Afghanistan, on addressing the dangers in Libya, on providing support to Syria's rebels and, most recently, on initiating military action against Islamic State. But is that necessarily such a bad thing?

    Oct 22, 2014

  • Tank silhouette at sunset

    Commentary

    Destroy ISIL's Heavy Weapons and Vehicles: Level the Playing Field

    More than any other option, employing air power decisively to deny ISIL the ability to use its armor and artillery has the potential to immediately and dramatically shift the battlefield balance against it.

    Oct 20, 2014

  • Scouts pull overwatch at the Chowkay Valley in Kunar Province, Afghanistan in 2006

    Blog

    7 Lessons from 13 Years of War

    RAND senior international policy analyst Linda Robinson addressed the annual Army USA Conference in Washington to present new research that distills lessons learned from the U.S. experience in the last 13 years of war.

    Oct 16, 2014

  • U.S. Army boots on sand

    Commentary

    What Could U.S. Boots on the Ground Do in Iraq and Syria?

    Before embracing American boots on the ground as a strategy to fight ISIS, it's essential to be clear about what they're going to do, what they may require, and what risks may be entailed.

    Oct 15, 2014

  • CH-47 Chinook helicopters land outside of the village of Abd al Hasan, Iraq, to pick up U.S. and Iraqi Army Soldiers

    Report

    Lessons from Past 13 Years of War Can Improve Future Strategy

    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.

    Oct 14, 2014

  • U.S. Army Sgt. instructing Iraqi soldiers on individual movement techniques during a class at the Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center in 2011

    Commentary

    The Foreign Policy Essay: Hearts, Minds, & ISIL

    Defeating ISIL will not come from “winning hearts and minds” and soft power, nor will it come from a handful of precision airstrikes. It will require hard, bloody ground combat. The United States may not want to admit this, but it is the grim truth nonetheless.

    Oct 13, 2014