Download eBook for Free

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.8 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Technical Annex

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.8 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback122 pages $33.00

Research Questions

  1. What is the range of U.S. goals in competition? What are the overseas campaigning instruments through which DoD contributes to those goals?
  2. Which of those instruments appear to be most effective and under what conditions?
  3. Which run substantial risks of counterproductive outcomes and under what conditions?
  4. At a ROM level, what are the costs of different campaigning tools?
  5. Which instruments appear to represent relatively more cost-efficient tools for obtaining certain objectives in particular types of contexts?

In strategic competition against competitors that can outspend the United States (either individually or collectively), it is important to understand not only the efficacy but also the efficiency of campaigning measures. Unfortunately, neither the efficacy nor efficiency of overseas military campaigning measures beneath the threshold of armed conflict is well understood. In this report, the authors seek to address this gap and provide the foundations of a strategic evaluation and decision-support tool to inform U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) campaign planning—more specifically, to assist in choosing overseas operations, activities, and investments in a logically linked and sequenced plan in support of specific strategy-aligned objectives.

The authors break down campaigns into three sets of factors: overseas campaigning instruments (or inputs), campaigning outcomes, and contextual factors that are likely to influence the effectiveness of campaigning instruments. To uncover broad patterns among interactions between the United States and its competitors and allies and partners, the authors conducted statistical analyses on whether U.S. strategic objectives have been more or less likely to be achieved when the United States employs a given overseas campaigning tool. The authors then provide rough-order-of-magnitude (ROM) cost estimates for each overseas campaigning tool.

The results suggest stark trade-offs between different U.S. strategic objectives and between the likelihood of realizing U.S. objectives and the need to operate within budget constraints. These trade-offs have important policy implications.

Key Findings

  • The persistent presence of U.S. forces overseas and treaty alliances appear to be the strongest, most consistent tools for deterrence.
  • U.S. overseas campaigning instruments appear to contribute relatively consistently to improved military-to-military cooperation under steady-state conditions, but their contribution to cooperation during a contingency remains uncertain.
  • Nearly all U.S. overseas campaigning instruments appear to pose some risk of negative effects on partners' internal stability, although typically this risk is associated only with certain types of partners or circumstances.
  • The stark trade-off between the likelihood of realizing U.S. objectives and the need to operate within budget constraints suggests that certain effective campaigning tools may nevertheless need to be used only sparingly.


  • Employ U.S. forces selectively for the highest-priority targets, and only when a careful risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis (including analyses of these forces' vulnerability) suggest that they are warranted.
  • Commit to multilateral military exercises primarily as a long-term investment in building capabilities rather than as a short-term signaling device.
  • Use campaigning to promote cooperation while being aware that peacetime gains in cooperation do not necessarily translate into improvements in contingency cooperation.
  • Use risk assessments and plan risk mitigations for low-income countries, where many campaigning instruments appear to have at least some unfavorable consequences for such countries' internal stability and resilience.
  • Improve data collection, knowledge management, and capabilities for analyzing the implications of campaigning decisions in the competition space.
  • Adapt planning processes to incorporate evaluations of the efficacy and costs of campaigning tools.

Research conducted by

This research was prepared for the United States Army and was conducted within RAND Arroyo Center’s Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program.

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

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.