Armed Conflict

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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.

  • Smoke rises from a residential building after shelling from Russian positions in northern Kharkiv as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 31, 2022, photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

    Commentary

    Obstacles to Lasting Peace Between Ukraine and Russia

    Jul 7, 2022

    The current situation in Ukraine suggests that neither side will be able to achieve a decisive military victory that settles the disputes that led to the war. Ukraine and Russia theoretically could reach an agreement to stop the fighting, but the politics between the two sides and centuries of confrontational history do not suggest a lasting peace.

  • Residents of Raqqa gather in the morning to drink tea after they had been allowed back to inspect their homes, photo by Aboud Hamam

    Essay

    Civilian Casualties: Lessons from the Battle for Raqqa

    Jul 1, 2022

    The United States' emphasis on minimizing civilian harm in Raqqa, Syria, was quite clear and strong up and down the chain of command. But the way in which the U.S. military waged war in Raqqa too often undercut that commitment. The Pentagon asked RAND to find out what happened.

Explore Warfare and Military Operations

  • An armoured convoy of Russian troops drives in Russian-held part of Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, July 23, 2022, photo by

    Commentary

    Russian Forces in Ukraine: Muddling Through

    The Russian armed forces have suffered tens of thousands of casualties and lost more than 5,000 pieces of equipment. These deficits will make it hard for Russia to hold regions in Ukraine that it may soon try to annex. To succeed, Moscow will have to replenish personnel and equipment at scale—tasks that will prove extremely difficult.

    Aug 15, 2022

  • The round table at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, June 30, 2022, photo by Yves Herman/Reuters

    Commentary

    A New Era? NATO's Prioritisation of Human Security in an Insecure World

    Human security and NATO's role and responsibility to protect civilians during conflict saw new prioritization in the alliance's 2022 Strategic Concept. While much progress has been made, more could be done to ensure the alliance can deliver on these commitments.

    Aug 10, 2022

  • China's PLA released footage on Aug 8, 2022 showing training exercises conducted by the Navy's 2nd Type 075 amphibious assault ship, the Guangxi, photo by EyePress via Reuters

    Report

    Hypothetical Scenarios of U.S.-China Conflict

    The prospect of China overtaking the United States to attain global primacy appears unlikely, but it is not impossible. An analysis of two conflict scenarios—one low-intensity and one high-intensity—illuminates how a U.S.-China war of power transition might unfold.

    Aug 10, 2022

  • A Ukrainian service member looks on outside the city of Sievierodonetsk, Ukraine, as Russia's attack continues, June 19, 2022, photo by Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters

    Commentary

    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

  • Blog

    Our New CEO, Algorithmic Bias, Equity in the Workplace: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on what RAND’s new president and CEO envisions for the future, addressing bias in health care algorithms, creating equitable change in the workplace, and more.

    Aug 5, 2022

  • A rescuer carries a land mine on the premises of a brick plant Trostianets, Sumy Region, northeastern Ukraine, June 17, 2022, photo by Pavlo_Bagmut/NurPhoto via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    Is the Virtue in the Weapon or the Cause?

    The Biden administration's recent announcement of its intention to adhere to the provisions of the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel landmines has real consequences. This decision is the latest in the long controversy over the use of anti-personnel landmines and, more broadly, what means are moral in war.

    Aug 5, 2022

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Evaluating the Use of Non-Lethal Weapons in Operational Environments

    This brief summarizes a RAND-developed methodology to evaluate the impact of non-lethal weapons in a way that better informs Department of Defense decisions about their development, integration into military forces, and use in diverse contexts.

    Aug 5, 2022

  • CARAT, USS Pioneer, Royal Thai Navy

    Journal Article

    Emerging Trends in Naval Mining Capabilities

    Although mines using decades-old technology remain menacing, several broad technological trends are likely to enhance the threat from naval mines in the next few decades.

    Aug 5, 2022

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard near the site where Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. strike over the weekend, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    After the al-Zawahiri Strike, the U.S. May Lack Capabilities in Afghanistan

    The U.S. drone strike that killed Al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan took out one of the last remaining key figures behind the 9/11 terror attacks. But it also highlighted how little the United States got out of its 2020 bargain with the Taliban, and raised questions about the U.S. ability to adequately monitor the developing threat from this quarter going forward.

    Aug 3, 2022

  • U.S. and South Korean sailors conduct anti-mine drills

    Journal Article

    The Imperative to Defend Minefields

    Minefields can impede an adversary fleet's ability to sortie from port. But once laid, they must be defended to prevent sweeping operations.

    Aug 3, 2022

  • Ukrainian troops using advanced U.S. M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to attack Russian targets near Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, July 4,2022, photo by Armed Forces of Ukraine/Cover Im via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    Could U.S. Weapons Assistance to Ukraine Lead to Russian Escalation?

    The United States and its allies should certainly continue providing Ukraine with the matériel it needs, but they should also—in close consultation with Kyiv—begin opening channels of communication with Russia. An eventual cease-fire should be the goal, even as the path to it remains uncertain.

    Aug 1, 2022

  • A Ukrainian serviceman lights a candle at the spot where a child was killed by a Russian cruise missile strike in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, July 15, 2022, photo by Maxym Marusenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    Might Russia Turn to Terror Bombing Civilians in Ukraine?

    Recent Russian missile attacks against civilian targets in cities far away from the front lines have killed scores of Ukrainians, leading to widespread outrage. These events raise the question of whether the war in Ukraine is entering a new phase in which terror attacks might become common.

    Jul 29, 2022

  • U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov in a Ukraine Defence Contact group meeting in Brussels, Belgium, June 15, 2022, photo by Yves Herman/Pool/Reuters

    Report

    Potential Pathways to Russian Escalation Against NATO

    A Russia-NATO war is far from an inevitable outcome of the current conflict in Ukraine. U.S. and allied policymakers should be concerned with specific pathways and potential triggers, but they need not operate under the assumption that every action will entail acute escalation risks.

    Jul 26, 2022

  • A destroyed Russian tank by the roadside near Huliaipole, Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine, June 29, 2022, photo by Dmytro Smolyenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    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

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Cyber Deterrence with Imperfect Attribution and Unverifiable Signaling

    Examines a game of deterrence in which the defender can signal its retaliatory capability but can only imperfectly attribute an attack. We show that there are equilibria in which the defender sends noisy signals to increase its expected payoff.

    Jul 25, 2022

  • Blog

    Gun Storage, the Dangers of Replacement Theory, War in Ukraine: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how Americans store their guns, why "replacement theory" is a danger to us all, the war in Ukraine, and more.

    Jul 15, 2022

  • Astronaut on a spacewalk outside a space station, photo by Blue Planet Studio/Adobe Stock

    Multimedia

    Expert Insights: Future Uses of Space

    In this Expert Insights podcast, James Black and Linda Slapakova discuss the potential uses of space out to 2050, ranging from defence, manufacturing, climate protection, and tourism.

    Jul 13, 2022

  • Smoke rises from the pipes of a heat power plant, Kiev, Ukraine, November 27, 2015, photo by Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    Rebuilding Ukraine for a Changing Climate

    When the war in Ukraine ends, the country will in all likelihood undergo a massive reconstruction. Ukraine could rebuild in a way that would both lower its carbon footprint and construct infrastructure resilient to the effects of climate change.

    Jul 8, 2022

  • Student walks through an archway at Cambridge University, photo by burcintuncer/Getty Images

    Commentary

    New Legislation May Not Be Enough to Counter Chinese Interference in British Universities

    There is alarming evidence of growing Chinese espionage and influence in UK universities that could threaten UK national security and academic freedoms. Three complementary initiatives could increase university researchers' awareness of the potential risks of collaborating with certain Chinese partners.

    Jul 8, 2022

  • British Prime Minister Winston Churchill shaking hands with Secretary of State Dean Acheson in front of a world map, as Director W. Averell Harriman of the Mutual Security Agency (right) looks on, January 8, 1953, photo by U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

    Commentary

    The Irony of Misinformation: USIA Myths Block Enduring Solutions

    Unlike Russia and China, the U.S. government has failed to institutionalize the importance of information in foreign policy. The United States lacks formalized leadership structures to tackle information issues head on, and a central organization to coordinate activities to understand, inform, and influence foreign audiences.

    Jul 7, 2022