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.

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


    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.

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    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.

Explore Warfare and Military Operations

  • A passerby pauses near a makeshift memorial with U.S. and French flags outside the French embassy in Washington, November 16, 2015


    What the Paris Attacks Mean for U.S. Strategy in Syria and Homeland Security

    Events in the Middle East and Europe have direct implications for U.S. homeland security. And the attacks in Paris have increased pressure to step up the fight in Syria and Iraq. But Americans should consider the threat in context, and adjustments to U.S. strategy in Syria should only be a matter of degrees.

    Nov 19, 2015

  • Islamic State fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province, Syria, June 30, 2014


    ISIS Will Become More Deadly Before It Dies

    The lesson with ISIS is straightforward. Western populations should be prepared for an upsurge in violence if ISIS continues to lose territory. There has already been a growth in attacks and plots across the West with operational or inspirational ties to ISIS.

    Nov 18, 2015

  • A man holds a cross that reads "death to the president" as he marches with other protesters who are against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term, June 3, 2015


    Flirting with Genocide in Burundi: Paying Attention Could Save Lives

    Burundi has been afflicted by political violence since April. President Pierre Nkurunziza, who helped bring peace to the country in the last decade, is risking everything for the sake of staying in power. He is dragging the country backwards after 10 years of progress.

    Nov 18, 2015

  • A tank of the Syrian National Army in the outskirts of Damascus on September 21, 2013


    The Dynamics of the Conflicts in Syria and Iraq and the Threat Posed by Homegrown Terrorists and Returning Western Fighters

    The fighting in Iraq and Syria is likely to continue. How will the dynamics of these conflicts shape the region and events beyond? And what threat do Westerners who've joined jihadists on these battlefields and homegrown terrorists pose to the U.S. homeland?

    Nov 18, 2015

  • Close-up view on white conceptual keyboard - European Union (key with flag)


    Cybersecurity in the European Union and Beyond: Exploring the Threats and Policy Responses

    A study of cybersecurity threats in the EU identified and assessed key cyber-threats facing the EU and the challenges associated with their identification; the main cybersecurity capabilities in the EU and US; the current state of transnational cooperation; and perceptions of the effectiveness of the current EU response.

    Nov 18, 2015

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    The Paris Terror Attacks and Confronting ISIS

    In this Call with the Experts, RAND terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins offers insights on ISIS's latest strategy and capabilities, how the West can fight it, and what the tragedy in Paris could mean for the Syrian refugee crisis.

    Nov 18, 2015

  • French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (L), French President Francois Hollande (C), French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R), and students observe a moment of silence at the Sorbonne University, Paris, France, November 16, 2015


    Insights on the Paris Terror Attacks from RAND Experts

    RAND experts weigh in on what the wave of coordinated terror attacks across Paris means for France, the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, the global refugee crisis, and more.

    Nov 17, 2015

  • A French soldier from Operation Barkhane rides in an armoured vehicle in Timbuktu, November 5, 2014


    The French Way of War

    There is a French way of warfare that reflects the French military's lack of resources and its modest sense of what it can achieve. They specialize in carefully apportioned and usually small but lethal operations, often behind the scenes.

    Nov 17, 2015

  • The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen as flags fly at half staff at the Washington Monument, November 16, 2015


    Time to Prepare for the Unthinkable

    Given ISIS's strategy, it seems only a matter of time before these extremists might attempt an attack in the United States. The irony is that the very rights that Americans hold so dear — liberty, privacy, freedom — place it at greater risk. So what should America do to prepare?

    Nov 16, 2015

  • French police stand guard outside a commercial center in Nice, November 14, 2015, the day after a series of deadly attacks in Paris


    Why the Paris Terrorists Couldn't Be Stopped

    Terrorists almost always have the advantage. Theoretically, they can attack anything, anywhere, anytime. And governments cannot protect everything, everywhere, all the time.

    Nov 16, 2015

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R), and UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura address the media in Vienna, Austria, November 14, 2015


    Bosnia Was Hard, Syria Is Harder

    To find peace in Syria, cooperation among outside powers will be an essential first step. But before going forward, the great powers should soberly assess prospects for an enduring peace accord, as well as the resources required.

    Nov 16, 2015

  • Candles in the French national colours are placed near the Bataclan concert hall the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris, November 14, 2015


    Big Questions Facing France

    In Paris, the heavily armed terrorists reportedly struck at six locations, including restaurants, a football stadium, and a theater during a rock concert. It seems clear the killers must have had some confederates. That would mean some terrorists are still at large.

    Nov 14, 2015

  • A U.S. Air Force airman works at the 561st Network Operations Squadron, which executes defensive cyber operations


    The Two Sides of Cybersecurity

    Securing government networks is certainly necessary, but authorities should not lose sight of the need to couple their defense of America's networks with appropriate resources dedicated to combatting criminal, terrorist, and other threats in cyberspace.

    Nov 13, 2015

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to servicemen during a training exercise at the Donguz testing range in Orenburg region, Russia, September 19, 2015


    Is Winter Coming? Or, Our Russia Strategy

    In Washington, and across the globe, many ask if Russian actions represent a new challenge to international order, and, if so, what is the best course of action to respond to it.

    Nov 12, 2015

  • Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani and U.S. President Barack Obama after their joint news conference in Washington March 24, 2015


    Saving Afghanistan: More Than Just Troops

    President Obama's decision to preserve troop strength in Afghanistan is a major step in the right direction. But his commitment to continued support for President Ghani and the national unity government as they pursue critical reforms will determine whether the U.S. troop commitment has any value.

    Nov 5, 2015

  • A schoolgirl walks past damaged buildings in Maarrat al-Numan, Syria, October 28, 2015


    Partition Syria to Crush the Islamic State

    The Islamic State will never join in any settlement. Peace in Syria therefore requires that everyone else stop fighting each other and join in suppressing the Islamic State.

    Nov 1, 2015

  • Cuba's President Raul Castro stands between Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, a.k.a. Timochenko, in Havana, September 23, 2015, as they agreed to reach a final peace agreement within six months


    Bringing FARC in from the Cold

    The announcement of a preliminary peace accord by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Colombian government is not receiving public support. Most Colombians manifest a strong desire for peace but reject the possibility that crimes committed in the name of revolution should receive amnesty.

    Oct 28, 2015

  • Syrian President al-Assad made a surprise visit to Moscow on October 20, 2015, to thank Russian President Putin for launching air strikes against Islamist militants in Syria


    Five Options for the U.S. in Syria

    How should the United States respond to Russia's intervention in Syria's civil war? Here are five options intended to encourage rational thinking based upon realistic presumptions, not media or campaign-driven hype.

    Oct 21, 2015

  • The Ohio-Class ballistic missile submarine USS Nevada returns to homeport at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following a strategic deterrent patrol


    If We Keep Cutting Defense Spending, We Must Do Less

    The United States is underinvesting in defense and other instruments of national influence just when they are most needed. Improving defenses needn't require Cold War levels of expenditure but Americans should look realistically at the demands being placed on their forces and generate the revenues to meet those demands.

    Oct 19, 2015

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    U.S. Needs to Either Boost Defense Funding or Limit Military Commitments

    If policymakers wish to maintain the United States' international commitments, then to bolster deterrence the U.S. should increase its ground forces in Europe, accelerate modernization — especially of air and naval forces — and invest more in training, maintenance, and advanced munitions.

    Oct 19, 2015