Warfare and Military Operations

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RAND researchers examine military and national security issues across a broad spectrum — from political dissent and military training to tactical operations and reconstruction efforts — and take a long-term, global perspective. Terrorism, types of warfare, and international intervention are among the many topics RAND explores.

  • drone-myth1

    Commentary

    Armed Drone Myth 1: They Will Transform How War Is Waged Globally

    Feb 17, 2015

    Long-range military drones are fundamentally misunderstood. Their champions wrongly contend they are revolutionizing warfare, while critics fear their spread would greatly increase the threat that China, terrorists, and others pose.

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy recruits chant slogan during a parade

    Report

    Sustaining U.S. Leadership in the Asia-Pacific Region

    Feb 23, 2015

    While the U.S. has been occupied with recent military operations, other potential adversaries have been advancing their own military capabilities. A debate over the appropriate set of responses — strategic, operational, and technical — has begun.

Explore Warfare and Military Operations

  • A North Korean long-range rocket is launched at the Sohae launch site in North Korea, February 7, 2016

    Commentary

    North Korea Rocket Launch: Why Did Kim Fire a Missile Now?

    Kim Jong-un is probably seeking clear successes before his important Seventh Party Congress in May, when he wants to appear to be the all-powerful leader of North Korea.

    Feb 8, 2016

  • The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in formation with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships for a photo exercise, November 23, 2015

    Commentary

    Transforming 'Distributed Lethality' Strategy into Action

    Distributed lethality offers a more offensive approach to using naval surface forces as potential adversaries acquire naval capabilities designed to control the sea. Translating the concept into action has implications for Navy operations, logistics, finances, and overall strategy.

    Feb 8, 2016

  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Legged Squad Support System can relieve troops of their 100-pound equipment load, take voice commands, and maneuver around obstacles, in addition to numerous other tasks in the field

    Commentary

    Should We Fear an AI Arms Race?

    Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and others signed a letter calling for a ban on the application of artificial intelligence to advanced weapons systems. AI weapons are not without risks, but the benefits are substantial and the risks can be mitigated with more moderate regulation than a ban.

    Feb 8, 2016

  • Estonia's Defence League volunteer soldiers attend training drill near Rabasaare, Estonia, September 12, 2015

    Report

    Unconventional Options for the Defense of the Baltic States

    Unconventional options from the Swiss defense strategy during the Cold War could benefit Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These include training and equipping local defense units and preparing transportation infrastructure for demolition to prevent an invasion.

    Feb 5, 2016

  • Libya Dawn fighters watch Islamic State militant positions near Sirte March 19, 2015

    Commentary

    The Three Challenges of Countering ISIS in Libya

    ISIS's expansion in Libya is a threat to the security of Libyans, to the region, and to Europe. U.S. and European cooperation to counter ISIS is essential and Libya is unlikely to ever be peaceful without outside military support.

    Feb 5, 2016

  • U.S. Special Forces soldiers prepare to leave Haji Aslam village in Khakarez district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 24, 2014

    Report

    A Counterinsurgency Win in Afghanistan?

    The 2015 counterinsurgency (COIN) effort in Afghanistan ranks among the low end of historical COIN winners. The Afghan government and security forces are capable of maintaining the current stalemate with the Taliban. This is the first step on the most promising path to peace: a negotiated settlement.

    Feb 4, 2016

  • Report

    Uncertainty-Sensitive Heterogeneous Information Fusion: Assessing Threat with Soft, Uncertain, and Conflicting Evidence

    Presents research on methods for heterogeneous information fusion -- combining data that are qualitative, subjective, fuzzy, ambiguous, contradictory, and even deceptive, in order to form a realistic assessment of threat in a counterterrorism context.

    Feb 1, 2016

  • Announcement

    Australian Foreign Minister and International Policy Experts Discuss Middle East Challenges During Meeting at RAND

    The RAND Corporation and the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney convened a distinguished group of Australian and American experts to discuss the challenges ahead in Middle East policy for both countries.

    Jan 29, 2016

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Multimedia

    The Future of Isis

    In an exclusive conversation with RANDNext, RAND terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins discusses the future of ISIS.

    Jan 28, 2016

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a statement that sanctions will be lifted on Iran after the IAEA verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal, January 16, 2016

    Commentary

    Iran, Terrorism, and Nonproliferation After the Nuclear Deal

    As Iran re-enters global markets, the Obama administration needs a strategy that accounts for the nuclear deal's potentially adverse implications for U.S. counterterrorism policy as well as its advantages for nonproliferation policy.

    Jan 28, 2016

  • spotlight-2015-cover

    Brochure

    Spotlight on 2015

    RAND Europe's annual review, Spotlight on 2015, illustrates how our work helps to improve people's lives through policymaking based on objective research and rigorous analysis.

    Jan 26, 2016

  • Members of the New York City Police Department's Critical Response Command anti-terrorism unit stand in formation on Randall's Island in New York City, November 16, 2015

    Commentary

    A Symbolic Purging of the NYPD Radicalization Report

    The NYPD's purging of its 2007 report on radicalization may give some satisfaction by symbolically breaking the connection between the current mayoral administration and the NYPD's previous intelligence and investigative efforts. But its significance seems questionable.

    Jan 26, 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

  • Marina Litvinenko, widow of murdered ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, poses with a copy of The Litvinenko Inquiry Report with her son Anatoly during a news conference in London, Britain, January 21, 2016

    Commentary

    Troubling Truth Beneath Litvinenko Headlines

    Slipping radioactive material into a spy's tea in the middle of London may not sound like a CBRN attack, but it is, as the Owen report has confirmed. Hopefully, the report's release will help focus global attention on the growing threat posed by these devastating weapons.

    Jan 21, 2016

  • Department of Homeland Security researchers work at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, April 28, 2010

    Tool

    A Framework for Programming and Budgeting for Cybersecurity

    When defending an organization, cybersecurity professionals must choose from a large set of defensive measures while operating with a limited set of resources. What is the menu of actions for defending against an attack? And how can defenders navigate the selection process?

    Jan 20, 2016

  • A demonstration on infectious disease identification and treatment from the Benin Armed Force in Contonou, Benin, January 2013

    Commentary

    Countering Bioterror

    While advances in biotechnology have brought a wide range of benefits, biological weapons are now within the reach of many rogue nations and possibly some terrorist groups. Reports show that the U.S. is ill prepared to address this threat.

    Jan 18, 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

  • Afghan carpet salesmen fold a carpet after showing it to customers at a shop in Kabul

    Report

    Lessons from the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations in Afghanistan

    Economic development is likely to remain a key component of U.S. contingency operations. Assessing the activities of the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations in Afghanistan offers insights for similar projects in the future.

    Jan 12, 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