Asymmetric Warfare

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The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan are among the best-known recent examples of asymmetric warfare: conflicts between nations or groups that have disparate military capabilities and strategies. RAND investigates political and military responses to — and the impacts of — counterinsurgency, terrorism, and other forms of irregular warfare.

  • An Israeli tank drives near the border as it returns to Israel from Gaza, August 3, 2014

    Report

    Lessons from Israel's Wars in Gaza

    Jul 26, 2017

    The Israel Defense Force had to evolve to meet an adaptive and determined hybrid adversary during its wars in Gaza. The U.S. Army and the joint force can learn from the IDF's challenge of balancing intense international legal public scrutiny and the hard operational realities of urban warfare.

  • Flags of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are raised in a ceremony outside the presidential palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, during the country's centenary celebration, February 16, 2018, photo by Birute/Getty Images

    Report

    Deterring Russian Aggression in the Baltic States

    Apr 14, 2019

    Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are vulnerable to low-level, hybrid, and full-scale attacks by Russian forces. Which unconventional strategies could they use to deter aggression and buy time for conventional military responses? And how can NATO allies help develop and fund these efforts?

Explore Asymmetric Warfare

  • Commentary

    Violence Unraveling the Fabric of Society

    Threats to democracy and stability in the Andean region of South America could confront the United States with its most serious security crisis in this hemisphere since the Central American wars of the 1980s.

    Jun 17, 2001

  • Commentary

    A Confounding, Complex Tragedy

    Without external assistance, Colombia cannot defeat the guerrilla-gangster Minotaur that consumes it. It is in our national interest to help. At the same time, it is necessary that we fully comprehend the harsh realities we and our Colombian allies face.

    Jun 17, 2001

  • Report

    The Centennial Air Force: The Future of Air Power at the Air Force's 100th Birthday

    The authors imagine that in the year 2047, the U.S. Air Force will be the service of choice for attacking and defending against asymmetric warfare and near-peer competitors.

    Dec 31, 2000

  • Report

    Commando Raids: 1946-1983

    This Note assesses the effectiveness of a selected sample of raids executed by small commando and commando-type forces in response to terrorist threats or attacks. One hundred raids by irregular forces (guerrilla groups, terrorist organizations, and ...

    Dec 31, 1984

  • Report

    Colombia's Bold Gamble For Peace

    Colombia's recent rash of kidnappings and terrorism has given rise to government efforts to put an end to the guerrilla warfare and political violence that have plagued the country for twenty years.

    Dec 31, 1984

  • Report

    The Bridge between Generations in Indonesian Military Politics.

    A discussion of the Indonesian officer corps. A new generation lacking experience of guerrilla warfare against the Dutch but with more professional training will soon be in command. They absorbed the army doctrine with its populist emphasis on terr...

    Dec 31, 1975

  • Report

    Soldiers Versus Gunmen: The Challenge of Urban Guerrilla Warfare

    In the late 1960s, the world's revolutionaries moved from rural to urban guerrilla warfare. How have they fared in the first three years of the decade?

    Dec 31, 1973

  • Report

    The Five Stages of Urban Guerrilla Warfare: Challenge of the 1970s

    Guerrilla strategy began in the country, but has moved to the city. To a degree, the urbanization of guerrilla warfare signals its failure in the countryside.

    Dec 31, 1970

  • Content

    Rick Brennan, Jr.

    Senior Political Scientist
    Education Ph.D. in political science/international relations, University of California, Los Angeles; M.S. in political science/international relations, University of California, Los Angeles; B.S. in criminal justice, Arizona State University

  • Content

    Hannah Jane Byrne

    Defense Analyst
    Education M.A. in security studies, Georgetown University; B.A. in political science, Johns Hopkins University

  • Content

    Colin P. Clarke

    Adjunct Political Scientist; Affiliate Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
    Education B.A. in communications, Loyola College; M.S. in international relations, New York University; Ph.D. in international security policy, University of Pittsburgh

  • Content

    Raphael S. Cohen

    Associate Director, Strategy and Doctrine Program, Project Air Force; Senior Political Scientist
    Education Ph.D. in government, Georgetown University; M.A. in security studies, Georgetown University; B.A. in government, Harvard University

  • Content

    Ben Connable

    Senior Political Scientist; Affiliate Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
    Education Ph.D. in war studies, King's College London; M.A. in national security affairs, Naval Postgraduate School; M.A. in strategic intelligence, American Military University; B.A. in political science, University of Colorado, Boulder

  • Content

    Brandon Corbin

    Defense Analyst
    Education M.A. in security studies, Georgetown University; B.S. in engineering management, US Mil Academy at West Point

  • Content

    Eric V. Larson

    Senior Policy Researcher
    Education Ph.D. and M.Phil. in policy analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School; A.B. in political science, University of Michigan

  • Content

    Krystyna Marcinek

    Assistant Policy Researcher; Ph.D. Candidate, Pardee RAND Graduate School
    Education M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies, Jagiellonian University, Poland

  • Content

    Erik Ervin Mueller

    Defense Analyst
    Education M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies, University of Chicago; B.A. in international affairs, Lewis & Clark College

  • Content

    Jan Osburg

    Senior Engineer; Affiliate Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
    Education Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, University of Stuttgart; M.S. in aerospace engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Content

    Christopher Paul

    Senior Social Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
    Education Ph.D., M.A., and B.A. in sociology, University of California, Los Angeles

  • Content

    Stephanie Pezard

    Senior Political Scientist
    Education Ph.D. in political science, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva; M.A. in history, French Institute of Political Science, Paris (Sciences Po); M.A. in political science, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva; B.A. in history, French Institute of Political Science, Paris (Sciences Po)