Reports and Findings on the Will to Fight

Final Publications


  • The Will to Fight, Lessons from Ukraine

    In Ukraine, ferocious defense has stalled the invaders. Even if Kyiv falls, continued resistance seems likely. Ukraine has reminded the world that national unity in the face of existential threats, self-reliance strengthened by collective defense, and courage coupled with compassion can help underdog populations resist the mightiest military forces.

    Mar 29, 2022

  • The Will to Fight in the Age of Social Media

    Social media messaging has played a decisive role in strengthening Ukraine's will to fight—arguably the single most important factor in war—against Russia.

    Mar 22, 2022

  • American Deterrence's Missing Half

    If American deterrence fails, it may not be because adversaries doubt U.S. military capabilities so much as they doubt American willpower. Shifting those perceptions will require not just defense authorizations, but also repairing the social fabric here at home.

    Jan 24, 2022

  • Will to Fight: Are Americans and Chinese Ready to Die for Taiwan?

    While brinksmanship is useful for strategic deterrence, it is also very risky. The United States and China could easily stumble into an unplanned high-intensity war over Taiwan. However, it is not at all clear that either side is psychologically prepared for such a war.

    Nov 8, 2021

  • Russian Mercenaries in Great-Power Competition: Strategic Supermen or Weak Link?

    The weaknesses within Russian mercenary forces and within the Russian state in relation to press-ganged youths, conscripts, and casualties may offer opportunities for exploitation in great-power competition. These broader weaknesses in Russian national will to fight could be examined to identify more ways to prevent Russia from aggressively undermining Western democracy.

    Mar 9, 2021

  • The Will to Fight and the Fate of Nations

    America's military argues that "will to fight" - the disposition and decision to fight, act, or persevere - is the most important factor in war. In this view, war is a fundamentally human endeavor, and military force is used to bend and break the enemy’s will. In a War on the Rocks essay, Ben Connable and Michael McNerney argue that, in practice, America's military tends to instead treat war as a fundamentally mechanical process, driven by acquisitions and technology.

    Dec 20, 2018