Asymmetric Warfare

Featured

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.

  • 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.

  • Ukrainian soldiers and press after clashes between the Ukrainian and Russian Army in Irpin, outside of Kyiv, Ukraine, April 2, 2022, photo by Raphael Lafargue/ABACAPRESS.COM/Reuters

    Commentary

    Could Insurgency Offer Ukraine a Decisive Edge?

    Apr 6, 2022

    While insurgency rarely offers a path to early victory, a campaign of popular resistance that supports the continuing conventional battle could give overmatched Ukraine an edge in its fight against Russian occupiers.

Explore Asymmetric Warfare

  • Commentary

    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

    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

    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.

    Jan 1, 2001

  • Report

    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 ...

    Jan 1, 1985

  • Report

    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

    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...

    Jan 1, 1976

  • Report

    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?

    Jan 1, 1974

  • Report

    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.

    Jan 1, 1971

  • People

    People

    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

  • People

    People

    Raphael S. Cohen

    Director, Strategy and Doctrine Program, RAND 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

  • People

    People

    Brandon Corbin

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

  • People

    People

    Krystyna Marcinek

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

  • People

    People

    Erik E. Mueller

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

  • People

    People

    Jan Osburg

    Senior Engineer
    Education Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, University of Stuttgart; M.S. in aerospace engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • People

    People

    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

  • People

    People

    Stephanie Pezard

    Senior Political Scientist and Associate Research Department Director for Defense and Political Sciences (DPS)
    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)

  • People

    People

    Eric Robinson

    Associate Director, Research Programming Group; Senior Research Programmer/Analyst
    Education M.P.P. in public policy, College of William & Mary; B.A. in economics, government, College of William & Mary

  • People

    People

    Barbara Sude

    Adjunct Political Scientist
    Education Ph.D. in Near Eastern studies, Princeton University; B.S. in Arabic studies, Georgetown University