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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Karen Elliott House, Brian Michael Jenkins, Dalia Dassa Kaye, James Dobbins, and Seth G. Jones at RAND's Politics Aside 2014

    Blog

    ISIS in Perspective

    While ISIS poses a threat to the U.S., violence from the group is not likely to be aimed directly at the American homeland any time soon, according to a panel of experts who discussed the Middle East at RAND's Politics Aside event. But an attack could be mounted against the U.S. if ISIS were to establish a nation from the territory it holds in Syria and Iraq.

    Nov 15, 2014

  • Afghan policemen in Kabul

    Commentary

    Afghanistan After America: A Fragile Stability

    Since 2011, the United States, the Afghan government, and the Taliban have engaged in intermittent and often indirect talks about peace negotiations. It may be stalemate on the battlefield that eventually forces the parties to break this stalemate over the shape of a peace process.

    Nov 14, 2014

  • Militant Islamist fighters wave the ISIS flag atop a tank on the streets of northern Raqqa province, Syria, June 30, 2014

    Testimony

    Countering ISIL's Financing

    Stolen oil, extortion revenue, and access to international financial systems have enabled ISIL to build wealth. Helping Iraq and regional partners target financial facilitators and local revenue sources can reverse ISIL funding.

    Nov 13, 2014

  • Multimedia

    Using Network Analysis Methods to Support the Global SOF Network

    This video explores how network analysis metrics -- in particular

    Nov 13, 2014

  • Multimedia

    SOF Partner Assessment: Introduction to Country Characteristics

    Part one of a four-part video series describes the use of consistent metrics to assess countries' political attractiveness and reliability as partners in the U.S. Special Operations Command's proposed Global Special Operations Forces (SOF) Network.

    Nov 13, 2014

  • Afghanistan's CEO Abdullah Abdullah and President Ashraf Ghani walk with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, October 3, 2014

    Commentary

    What's the Plan? The Afghan Government

    With the election dispute settled, one can sense a feeling of hope and opportunity among the Afghan political spectrum. Members of each camp are voicing optimism and saying the right things, but before the unity government can address the country's issues, it must first clear the hurdle of appointing new leadership.

    Nov 10, 2014

  • Supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) party cheer their leader, Nawaz Sharif (not pictured), during a campaign rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 2013

    Report

    Drivers of Long-Term Insecurity and Instability in Pakistan

    Already one of the most urbanized nations in South Asia, Pakistan is projected to have a majority of its population living in cities within three decades. Researchers examine Pakistan's increasing urbanization as a potential driver of long-term insecurity and instability, with particular attention to the cities of Karachi, Lahore, and Quetta.

    Oct 30, 2014

  • Mark Hulkower and fellow defense attorneys speak to members of the media outside of the U.S. District Court after five Blackwater security guards were charged with killing 14 unarmed civilians and wounding 20 others in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad

    Commentary

    The Future of Blackwater and Other Guns for Hire

    The story of how private military security companies came to play a pivotal role in wartime operations is an important one, and Ann Hagedorn, a former reporter for the Journal, was right to take it on.

    Oct 28, 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

  • Smoke rises after a U.S.-led airstrike in Kobani, Syria, October 10, 2014

    Commentary

    Air Campaign Against ISIS Is Just Getting Off the Ground

    More than 60 countries have joined the coalition against ISIS, with at least 12 participating in the air campaign. Eventually, this will be an impressive armada, but the campaign is still in its first stage, and most of the coalition participants joined the effort only recently.

    Oct 17, 2014

  • Brigade General Gregoire de Saint-Quentin (L), head of France's Operation Serval in Mali, stands with General Nabere Honore Traore, army chief of Burkina Faso, during a handover ceremony of the Timbuktu mission, April 23, 2013

    Report

    What Can the U.S. Army Learn from France's War in Mali?

    French Army operations in Mali provide an example of how a technologically sophisticated army organizes and fields an expeditionary force. While the French way of war may not be optimal for U.S. commanders, who have greater resources at their disposal, the Army should still examine it for useful insights.

    Oct 17, 2014