Gian Gentile

Gian Gentile
Associate Director, RAND Arroyo Center; Senior Historian
Washington Office


Ph.D. in history, Stanford University


Gian Gentile is the associate director of RAND Arroyo Center, the United States Army's sole federally funded research and development center for studies and analysis. Gentile is also a senior historian at the RAND Corporation. His research focuses on U.S. Army total force policy, military doctrine and organization, history, innovation and transformation, and strategy. Gentile completed 32 years of active service in the U.S. Army where he served in a variety of command and staff assignments in the United States, Korea, and Europe. Prior to his time at RAND, he was Director of the Military History Program at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Gentile did two combat tours in Iraq: In 2003 he was a Brigade Combat Team Executive Officer in the 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit, and in 2006 he commanded a cavalry squadron in the 4th Infantry Division in west Baghdad. His latest book, Wrong Turn: America's Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency, was released by The New Press in June 2013. He has also published widely in professional and scholarly journals, and in major national and international media. He has been a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. For his work at RAND on issues relating to the proper mix between the Active and Reserve Army Components, Gentile was awarded the Bronze and Silver Medals for excellence in research and writing.


  • Warfare and Military Operations

    America's Dangerous Short War Fixation

    Americans have long been fixated on the idea of the short, decisive war. And the United States' adversaries bank on Washington's strategic impatience. If the United States' objective is to win, the only thing worse than fighting a long war may be thinking it's possible to avoid one.

    Mar 31, 2023

    Foreign Policy

  • Ukraine

    One Year After Russia's Invasion of Ukraine: Experts React

    We asked nearly 30 RAND experts to highlight takeaways from the first year of Russia's all-out war—and share what they're watching as the conflict in Ukraine grinds on. Here's what they said.

    Feb 20, 2023

  • Ukraine

    Support to Ukraine Continues to Be for America First

    Why should the United States spend tens of billions of dollars on a war half a world away? Because it's in America's economic and strategic interests.

    Feb 15, 2023

    The Hill

  • Military Strategy

    A Tale of Two Wars and the Pitfalls of Success

    Russia's war in Ukraine once again poses questions about how the United States prepares for conflict—not only which weapons it buys, but also how it envisions great-power wars in the 21st century. If the United States does learn the lessons of this war, then it may secure the U.S. military's edge for decades to come.

    Feb 2, 2023

    Foreign Policy

  • Military Strategy

    Appreciating U.S. Ground Force Contributions to Operation Inherent Resolve

    Defeating ISIS hinged on a ground fight, requiring the grueling liberation of territory kilometer by kilometer. While Iraqi forces bore the brunt of frontline fighting, U.S. forces were also engaged in on-the-ground combat operations that hastened the defeat of ISIS. Appreciating such contributions will be necessary to distill the right lessons so that we might correctly apply them to future irregular warfare.

    Jan 25, 2023

    Modern War Institute

  • Ukraine

    The Myth of America's Ukraine Fatigue

    Perceptions that the United States has “Ukraine fatigue” may be more myth than reality. It could be years before any declines in the American public's support for Ukraine actually result in a change of policy.

    Jan 3, 2023

    Foreign Policy

  • Ukraine

    What's the Harm in Talking to Russia? A Lot, Actually

    Despite the way it is commonly portrayed, diplomacy is not intrinsically and always good, nor is it cost-free. In the Ukraine conflict, the problems with a push for diplomacy are especially apparent. The likely benefits of negotiations are minimal, and the prospective costs could be significant.

    Nov 22, 2022

    Foreign Policy

  • Military Strategy

    'Wonder Weapons' Will Not Win Russia's War

    With its army increasingly in shambles, Russia has turned to attacking Ukraine's civilian infrastructure with Iranian-made drones in an effort to destroy Ukrainians' will to fight. These tactics will inflict pain on the Ukrainian population, but if history is any guide, they will not forestall a Russian defeat.

    Nov 10, 2022

    Defense One

  • Military Strategy

    David E. Johnson: A Remembrance

    On October 30th, David E. Johnson, Col U.S. Army (retired), a principal researcher at RAND and a leading intellectual in national defense and military history, passed away following a long illness. His deep knowledge of military history provided a perspective to analyze problems and make sound policy recommendations that were valued by senior decisionmakers in the Army and elsewhere.

    Nov 10, 2022

    The RAND Blog

  • Threat Assessment

    Why Putin's Nuclear Gambit Is a Huge Mistake

    Russia is losing in Ukraine, and the rhetoric of Russian leaders has recently become ever more apocalyptic. The United States and its allies should be prepared in case Russia goes down the nuclear path, but fear should not drive the Western response to Russia's nuclear bluster.

    Oct 19, 2022

    Foreign Policy

  • Ukraine

    A Moment of Strategic Clarity

    With the Russian mobilization and declared annexation, whatever prospects there were for a negotiated peace seem to have all but vanished. Any result short of Ukrainian victory will be, in the long run, a worse outcome for the rules-based international order.

    Oct 3, 2022


  • Ukraine

    Ukraine's 1777 Moment

    The Battle of Saratoga turned the tides of the Revolutionary War, ultimately leading to American independence. Nearly 250 years later, the Battle of Kharkiv may be a similar turning point in Ukraine's fight against Russia.

    Sep 19, 2022

    Foreign Policy

  • Ukraine

    The Case for Cautious Optimism in Ukraine

    While the outcome of the war in Ukraine is by no means clear, the balance of materiel, manpower, and willpower all seem to make the case for cautious optimism. Although Ukraine is unlikely to throw Russia back to its borders any time soon, the war will likely trend in Ukraine's favor in the coming months. But only if the West does not blink first.

    Aug 9, 2022

    Foreign Policy

  • Military Strategy

    The Lessons the United States Learned, and That Russia Did Not

    As dissimilar as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars may be to the war in Ukraine, those conflicts taught the United States a few important lessons, often the hard way. As a result, the U.S. military probably would have avoided the problems that beset the Russians in Ukraine—not in spite of the global war on terrorism, but because of it.

    Jul 25, 2022


  • Russia

    Russia, Ukraine, and the Misuse of History

    History as playbook has been used to paint the Ukraine conflict as the start of a larger battle for Europe. But even if it is Putin's intent to knock over one domino of a European country after another, the Russian Army—unlike the Soviet Army of old—simply does not have the capacity to do that.

    Apr 6, 2022

    Defense One

  • The Realities of Civil War

    Civil war is not a pretty thing to see or be a part of. Those understandably engaged with the intense debate over whether or not the president should be impeached should not suggest that impeachment would result in civil war in our country. There are peaceful means available for us as Americans to follow in order to solve the problems at hand.

    Oct 9, 2019

    The National Interest

  • North Korea

    The Hidden Components of the North Korean Military Challenge

    In an era of global competition in which U.S. military resources are stretched thin, the United States should consider looking for opportunities to scale back potential overcommitment. The current inter-Korean dialogue presents such an opportunity.

    Mar 12, 2019

    The National Interest

  • Operational Readiness

    The Tension Between What the Army Is and What It Does

    Cooperation and integration of the Army's three components is important, but what's most important is effectiveness in war and the key to that is trained, properly organized, and ready forces.

    Mar 3, 2016

    The National Interest

  • Military Force Planning

    Understanding the Abrams Doctrine: Myth Versus Reality

    As the NCFA finishes up its work on the future of the Army it is worthwhile to note that the strategic context in which the Army operates and is organized has changed over time, resulting in different calculations of costs and risks.

    Dec 9, 2015

    War on the Rocks

  • Operational Readiness

    The U.S. Army Must Remain Prepared for Battle

    Converting the Army into a force suited only for homeland defense or humanitarian missions abroad, without the ability to fight sophisticated foes as part of a joint force, would result in an unprepared Army.

    Apr 18, 2014

    The Washington Post