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.

  • Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby briefs reporters on airstrikes on ISIL targets in Syria, Sept. 25, 2014

    Blog

    An Inconvenient War

    Congress has not addressed President Obama's plans to take other military steps against ISIS. Some members of Congress do not want to vote on the use of military force until after the upcoming elections. Among these are some who fear their vote could cost them votes.

    Sep 25, 2014

  • A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes against ISIL targets Sept. 23, 2014

    Blog

    War with ISIS: What Does Victory Look Like?

    We should start the campaign with an achievable definition of victory and a reasonable expectation about what that will take. We want to degrade ISIS so its ability to attack us and our interests is minimized, and to aid allies like Iraqis and Middle Eastern governments who are willing to commit even limited forces.

    Sep 25, 2014

  • News Release

    Pentagon Should Elevate the Importance of Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction in Operational Planning

    Although the United States military has determined countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to be a strategic priority, policymakers have invested too little in the forces and capabilities needed to eliminate vulnerable arsenals.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea launches a Tomahawk cruise missile in the Persian Gulf, Sept. 23, 2014

    Blog

    RAND Experts Discuss U.S. Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

    The United States and five of its partner nations are conducting strikes against ISIS terrorists in Syria using fighters, bombers, remotely piloted aircraft, and Tomahawk Land Attack missiles. RAND experts discuss the bombings and possible ramifications.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • French President Francois Hollande arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris to speak about French airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State militants, September 19, 2014

    Blog

    Does France Have the Master Plan to Defeat ISIS?

    In Mali, France stopped jihadists from taking over, ejected them from the country almost entirely, and struck a major blow to their ability to threaten France and the region. This success story provides important lessons for the U.S. debate about how to deal with ISIS.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • The Flying Dragons flew in support of a joint air assault in which Soldiers conducted a search for illegal weapons on various compounds throughout Nawa Valley, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, May 25, 2014

    Report

    Pentagon Should Elevate the Importance of Eliminating WMDs in Operational Planning

    Joint force commanders should carefully consider requirements for eliminating weapons of mass destruction in their contingency and operational planning. And DoD policy decisions involving Army force structure should consider the conventional ground force requirements of such operations.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • Paratroopers depart Lielvarde Airbase, Latvia, Sept. 8, 2014, at the conclusion of a NATO exercise involving over 2,000 troops from 10 nations that focuses on increasing interoperability and synchronizing complex operations

    Blog

    The More Options, the Better

    Preserving the ability of the United States to choose how it will respond to global events is essential. And maintaining options is critical to the calculus.

    Sep 23, 2014

  • Shi'ite fighters, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against the Islamic State, take part in field training in the province of Najaf, September 16, 2014

    Blog

    War Is Not the Word

    Iraq, not the United States, is at war with ISIS. This distinction is important because it helps everyone understand each country's role.

    Sep 18, 2014

  • U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a live televised address on his plans for military action against the Islamic State, September 10, 2014

    Blog

    Will Obama's Light-Footprint Strategy Be Successful Against ISIS?

    President Obama's campaign against ISIS militants marks a notable strategic shift in the conduct of warfare against terrorists and insurgents. It eschews the use of overwhelming force and embraces a light-footprint strategy that relies on precision strikes from U.S. aircraft, clandestine ground units, and local allies.

    Sep 17, 2014

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a joint news conference with Egypt's foreign minister in Cairo, September 13, 2014

    Blog

    The U.S. Can't Count on Regional Support in the Fight Against ISIS

    Regional governments may put some of their differences aside to help fight ISIS. But in a region rife with turmoil and multiple internal fissures, Washington cannot count on its confrontation with ISIS as its partners' overriding priority.

    Sep 16, 2014

  • t-call-experts-hr

    Multimedia

    RAND Experts Discuss President Obama's Speech Announcing ISIS Strategy

    RAND researchers Dalia Dassa Kaye, Ben Connable and Christopher Chivvis hosted a media conference call on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 to discuss the President Obama's speech announcing his strategy to address the regional and global threat of ISIS. Media relations manager Joe Dougherty moderated the call.

    Sep 11, 2014

  • Information privacy design concept with globe, lock, and data

    Content

    Assessing the Public Perception of Security and Privacy in Europe

    A 3-year EU-funded research project is assessing existing knowledge about the relationship between security and privacy; collecting empirical evidence through a pan-European survey; and analyzing the main factors that affect how the public perceives the security and privacy implications of security technology.

    Sep 10, 2014

  • A resident of Tabqa city on a motorcycle waves an Islamist flag in celebration after Islamic State militants took over Tabqa air base, August 24, 2014

    Blog

    To Defeat the Islamic State, Follow the Money

    ISIS, likely the world's richest terrorist organization, has bills to pay and mouths to feed. If U.S. President Obama wants to defeat them, he should follow the money.

    Sep 10, 2014

  • Report

    Air Force Manpower Requirements and Component Mix: A Focus on Agile Combat Support

    Examines the extent to which various manpower requirements processes employed by the U.S. Air Force are validated, coordinated, and consistent.

    Sep 10, 2014

  • Afghan election workers count ballot papers for an audit of the presidential run-off in Kabul August 27, 2014

    Blog

    Afghanistan Back to the Brink

    The impasse between the Abdullah and Ghani camps has grown so significant that some senior Afghan political and security officials considered imposing an interim government, a move tantamount to a coup.

    Sep 8, 2014

  • Palestinian fighters from the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades inside an underground tunnel in Gaza

    Blog

    The Gaza Conflict: Tunnel Warfare's Latest Chapter

    Despite its long history as an effective combat tool, tunneling rarely garners much attention, perhaps because it is inherently clandestine, tedious, and dirty. However, as the conflict in Gaza indicates, tunneling remains effective, and will likely persist as long as conflict itself.

    Sep 5, 2014

  • Palestinians walk past a mosque and water tower damaged by Israeli air strikes and shelling in Khuzaa, in the southern Gaza Strip

    Blog

    The Grim Lessons of “Protective Edge”

    For all the attempts to find technological quick fixes or enforce a permanent settlement, Operation Protective Edge has highlighted that a war of attrition, known as a “long war,” remains the only viable strategy in the current environment.

    Sep 3, 2014

  • Members of Kurdish Peshmerga force stand guard at Sulaiman Pek front line, August 31, 2014. Iraqi security forces backed by Shi'ite militias on Sunday broke the two-month siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants.

    Blog

    A Broad Approach to Countering the Islamic State

    Recent analysis about how to defeat the Islamic State tends to be based on no more than intuition, a general sense of history, or a small number of cases of questionable comparability. A study of 71 historical cases of counterinsurgencies should help provide empirical evidence to this important debate.

    Sep 2, 2014

  • Research Brief

    The Conflict in Syria: Understanding and Avoiding Regional Spillover Effects

    Researchers examined the literature of armed conflict to determine the main factors that are likely to contribute to or impede the spread of violence from civil war and insurgency, then examined how they apply to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan.

    Aug 27, 2014

  • Iraqi Shiite tribal fighters in Baghdad

    Report

    Spillover from the Conflict in Syria

    External military support, large numbers of refugees, and the fragility of neighboring states are factors that contribute directly to the spread of violence from civil war and insurgency in Syria. How do these factors affect Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, and how can a spillover of violence be prevented?

    Aug 27, 2014