Military Transformation

RAND research on military transformation—the adjustment of a nation's military to achieve a specified objective—analyzes four major issues: force structure, modernization, readiness, and sustainability. RAND provides decisionmakers with recommendations on all aspects of planning and strategy to maximize the effectiveness, continuity, and innovation of a nation's force as it adapts to technological, cultural, and other significant changes.

  • Pilots of China's J-10 fighter jet from a PLAAF Aerobatics Team prepare before a media demonstration at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, November 24, 2015


    China's Air Force Is Fixing Its Shortcomings

    The prevailing view among Western observers is that Chinese fighter pilots lack the tactical mindset to engage and prevail in a dynamic, unscripted combat environment. But the PLAAF appears to have undertaken major reform in how it trains its pilots.

    Oct 14, 2016

  • News Release

    U.S. Military Facing Challenges as Other Nations Improve Abilities to Deny Access to Territory

    A United States military strategy based primarily on an ability to deploy troops anywhere it feels necessary will face heightened costs and risks in critical regions by 2025, owing to other nations' improved abilities to deny the U.S. access.

    Oct 12, 2016

  • Supply sergeants for the 2nd Cavalry Regiment's field artillery troop defend a hilltop as a 16th Sustainment Brigade logistics supply column passes by during exercise Saber Junction 15


    As Anti-Access and Area Denial Capabilities Grow, U.S. Needs New Strategy

    A U.S. military strategy based primarily on an ability to deploy troops anywhere deemed necessary will face greater costs and risks in critical regions by 2025. Why? Other nations will get better at denying access. The United States should embrace a multipronged strategy to prevent aggression.

    Oct 12, 2016

  • Russian servicemen on Russian T-90A main battle tanks before a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade, with the Moscow International Business Center also known as Moskva-City in the background, May 5, 2016


    Russia's Determination to Revise the Post-Cold War Order

    As long as political will for military measures to contain and deter Russian aggression remains limited, sustaining sanctions against Russia remains the only option to deal with a nation that is determined to revise the post-Cold War political and economic settlement in Europe in its favor.

    Sep 30, 2016

  • RTX2J5SP


    PLA Reforms and Their Ramifications

    The newest round of reforms to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is expected to improve the military's efficiency, warfighting capability, and political loyalty, but entrenched interests within the PLA could lead to reluctance within the military to adjust to new realities.

    Sep 23, 2016

  • People's Liberation Army soldiers take part in a search and rescue exercise near Qilian Yu subgroup in the Paracel Islands, known in China as Xisha Islands, South China Sea, July 14, 2016


    China's Military Reorganization Aims to Tighten Party Control and Strengthen Warfighting Capabilities

    Xi Jinping's sweeping reforms could result in a leaner, more combat-effective PLA that presents a more potent challenge to China's neighbors and to U.S. interests in the region. But even successful reforms will not guarantee victory on the battlefield, and any hypothetical conflict involving the U.S. would carry tremendous risks.

    Sep 6, 2016

  • Journal Article

    China's Search for a "Strategic Air Force"

    China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has undergone a transformation over the past two decades. As it continues to modernize, it is focused on becoming a strategic air force.

    Aug 11, 2016

  • People's Liberation Army naval soldiers stand on a military vessel at a naval base in Hong Kong, July 1, 2016


    Book Review: 'China's Military Transformation,' by You Ji

    China's military has undeniably made tremendous strides in recent years. You Ji's book provides a collection of interesting and often perceptive observations on political and intellectual aspects of a rapidly modernizing People's Liberation Army.

    Jul 5, 2016

  • Commercial Book

    The People's Liberation Army and Contingency Planning in China

    This books brings together leading experts from the United States and Taiwan to examine how the People's Liberation Army (PLA) prepares for a range of domestic, border, and maritime contingencies.

    Jun 29, 2016

  • The U.S. Air Force's Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site at the summit of Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui


    Best Practices for Sustainable Operations at the Air Force's Observatory on Maui

    The Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site on the Hawaiian island of Maui is a major site of U.S. space surveillance activity. A study of best practices implemented at similar research institutions offers suggestions for how the Air Force might further streamline its operations and lower operating costs.

    Apr 22, 2016

  • China's President Xi Jinping reviews an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 12, 2016


    Xi's Purge of the Military Prepares the Chinese Army for Confrontation

    Xi Jinping is relying on an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign, echoing Mao Zedong's dictum that “the party commands the gun,” and implementing a sweeping reorganization of the PLA to ensure his personal dominance over the military and to strengthen its ability to deter or win future wars.

    Apr 21, 2016

  • Taiwan-made MK-30 rockets are launched from Thunderbolt-2000 multiple rocket launchers during the annual Han Kuang military exercise in Penghu, west of Taiwan


    Taiwan Forced to Rethink Its Air Defense Strategy

    Taiwan's defense problem is challenging, but it will spend a considerable sum on air defense capabilities in the coming years, and those investments could be made much more effective.

    Apr 14, 2016

  • Soldiers of China's PLA take part in winter training at temperatures around -22 degrees Fahrenheit at China's border with Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, January 31, 2016


    Will the PLA Reforms Succeed?

    Reforms within the Chinese People's Liberation Army are in the process of delivering sweeping changes to its day-to-day operations, despite concerns held by some military members. Whether or not the overall implementation is successful as envisioned, assessing the operational implications of the reforms will require more time.

    Apr 1, 2016

  • The Chinese Luyang II-class guided missile destroyer Jinan and other ships in formation during a passing exercise, November 7, 2015


    China's Naval Modernization: Where Is It Headed?

    The PLA Navy is expanding its capabilities and operations to reduce vulnerabilities in China's near seas, but also to aggressively support its expanding global ambitions and challenge U.S. leadership in Asia.

    Feb 10, 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


    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

  • 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


    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

  • 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


    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

  • PLA soldiers march ahead of the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at Tiananmen Sqaure in Beijing, March 3, 2015


    China's Incomplete Military Transformation

    Although the People's Liberation Army has made impressive progress over the past 20 years, it still suffers from a number of potentially serious problems. Understanding its weaknesses — particularly what PLA officers themselves see as the most important shortcomings — is just as critical as studying its strengths.

    Mar 18, 2015

  • News Release

    China's Military Modernization Efforts Fall Short; Significant Weaknesses Remain

    Although the drive by the People's Republic of China to modernize its military has been underway for more than two decades, significant weaknesses remain in two broad categories: institutional and combat capabilities.

    Feb 16, 2015

  • Chinese airborne troops parachute in an amphibious landing drill during the Sino-Russian 'Peace Mission 2005' joint military exercise, held in China's Shandong Peninsula in 2005


    China's Incomplete Military Transformation

    The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is keenly aware of its many weaknesses and is vigorously striving to correct them. Although it is only natural to focus on the PLA's growing capabilities, understanding its weaknesses — and its self-assessments — is no less important.

    Feb 13, 2015