Warfare and Military Operations

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.

  • An airline passenger stands in a full-body scanner at a TSA checkpoint at LAX in February 2014 after U.S. authorities issued a warning to airlines to watch out for militants who may have hidden bombs in their shoes

    Commentary

    What Research Says About Profiling

    When police take action on the basis of race, creed, or ethnicity it is corrosive, unfair, ineffective, and can stoke the flames of police-community tension. But as we have found from a variety of assessments, law enforcement is best served when it bases its activities on risk—not on personal characteristics.

    Dec 18, 2014

  • A hostage runs toward a police officer outside Lindt cafe, where other hostages are being held, in Martin Place, Sydney, December 15, 2014

    Blog

    Could the Sydney Café Siege Happen Elsewhere?

    As the world mourns those lost in the Sydney café siege, investigations have begun examining the efficacy of Australia's anti-terrorism measures and details about the background and motives of the gunman. At the same time, terrorism experts are reflecting on where else such an attack could emerge.

    Dec 17, 2014

  • Illustrated photo of a person typing on a computer keyboard

    Commentary

    Preventing Cyber Attacks: Sharing Information About Tor

    While Tor has many benefits, it is also used to hide criminal activity online such as the recent cyber attacks against JPMorgan Chase and Sony Pictures. The U.S. government should share the IP addresses of Tor network nodes with U.S. critical infrastructure and financial firms so that future cyber attacks could be prevented.

    Dec 17, 2014

  • Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (L) discusses a report on the CIA's anti-terrorism tactics on the floor of the U.S. Senate as Senators Debbie Stabenow (rear) and Patty Murray look on, Washington, December 9, 2014

    Commentary

    Why the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA May Both Be Right

    Given that many questions of fact regarding the CIA's program of enhanced interrogation techniques can probably never be conclusively answered, the real issue comes down to a value judgment: whether inflicting physical pain on prisoners is an acceptable means of reducing the risk of terrorist attacks.

    Dec 12, 2014

  • U.S. Army Soldiers run to UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters after conducting a search for weapons caches in Albu Issa, Iraq, March 2008

    Event

    Lessons from 13 Years of War

    During the past 13 years of war, U.S. conventional and special operations forces worked more closely together than in any previous conflict. Linda Robinson will discuss how special operations forces can be applied in Iraq and Syria and how the U.S. can apply the broad lessons of these years to a future strategy.

    Dec 10, 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

  • Journal Article

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

    In the face of adversaries exploiting regional social divisions by using special operations forces and intelligence services, and dwindling American appetite for intervention, the United States needs to employ a more sophisticated form of special warfare to secure its interests.

    Dec 8, 2014

  • Turkish demonstrators chant Islamic slogans as they set fire to US and Israeli flags outside the Beyazit mosque in Istanbul, January 9, 2009

    Event

    The Challenges for Democracies Facing Asymmetric Conflicts

    While conventional warfare between nations declined in the past half-century, democratic countries increasingly have become involved in conflicts with non-state actors. Join us for a discussion of lessons learned in using military force in response to terrorism, as well as the legal, ethical, and moral implications of doing so.

    Dec 4, 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

  • News Release

    China and U.S. Can Reduce the Risk of War by Learning from History's Blunders

    The history of wars caused by misjudgments reveals that leaders relied on cognitive models, or simplified representations of their worlds, that were seriously at odds with objective reality. China and the U.S. could learn from historical strategic blunders regarding war and peace, and four examples of decisions that turned out well.

    Dec 2, 2014

  • World War II soldiers

    Report

    China and U.S. Can Reduce the Risk of War by Learning from History's Blunders

    The history of wars caused by misjudgments reveals that leaders relied on cognitive models, or simplified representations of their worlds, that were seriously at odds with objective reality. China and the U.S. could learn from historical strategic blunders regarding war and peace, and four examples of decisions that turned out well.

    Dec 2, 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

  • Afghan National Army soldiers walk at the Forward Base in Nari district near the army outpost in Kunar province, February 24, 2014

    Commentary

    What's the Plan? The Afghan National Security Forces

    The Afghan National Security Forces remain very much a work in progress. In the coming months, the resiliency and cohesiveness of the ANSF will be put to the test as the NATO coalition transitions to a non-combat mission. Growing pains can be expected.

    Dec 2, 2014

  • An explosion following an air strike in central Kobani, Syria, November 9, 2014

    Commentary

    NATO's Campaign in Libya Offers Salient Lessons for the Air War Against ISIL

    The NATO air campaign that helped defeat Qaddafi's regime in Libya has received relatively little mention in public discussion of the ongoing air strikes against ISIS. But the campaign in Libya offers at least five lessons that deserve greater attention today.

    Nov 25, 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

  • Report

    Innovative Leader Development: Evaluation of the U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Adaptive Leader Program

    This report presents the results of a systematic evaluation of the U.S. Army's Asymmetric Warfare Adaptive Leader Program.

    Nov 19, 2014

  • Research Brief

    Evaluating Innovative Leader Development in the U.S. Army

    This brief summarizes an assessment of an Army program to enhance adaptability in leaders and promote innovative solutions in training for and conducting unified land operations.

    Nov 19, 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

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye at a joint news conference in Seoul, April 2014

    Commentary

    N.K. WMDs Carry Catastrophic Potential

    The failure of the United States and South Korea to prevent North Korea from gaining significant quantities of weapons of mass destruction saddles those governments with serious military responsibilities, should North Korea go to war or should its government collapse.

    Nov 19, 2014