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The battle for Gaza revealed an extremist strategy: hiding in cities and provoking attack to cause civilian deaths that can be blamed on the attacking forces. The U.S. and allied militaries, having no options but lethal force or no options at all, are ill-equipped to defeat this strategy. The use of lethal force in dense populations can harm and alienate the very people whose cooperation U.S. forces are trying to earn. To solve this problem, a new RAND study proposes a “continuum of force” — a suite of capabilities that includes sound, light, lasers, cell phones, and video cameras.

In missions ranging from counterinsurgency to peacekeeping to humanitarian intervention to quelling disorder, the typical small unit of the U.S. military should and can have portable, easy-to-use, all-purpose capabilities to carry out its missions without killing or hurting civilians that may get in the way. The technologies for these capabilities are available but have not been recognized as a solution to this strategic problem and, consequently, need more high-level attention and funding.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    The Policy Setting

  • Chapter Three

    Possibilities

  • Chapter Four

    Requirements

  • Chapter Five

    Technology Options

  • Chapter Six

    A Promising Approach

  • Chapter Seven

    Operation, Preparation, and Organization

  • Chapter Eight

    Feasibility, Integration, and Implementation

  • Chapter Nine

    Conclusion and Recommendations

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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