Civil-Military Relations

RAND research on civil-military relations includes studies of how a military employs civilian contractors, how military bases interact with their neighbors, and how a nation's military affects its politics — and vice versa.

  • Participants speak during a coffee break at Africa Endeavor 2018 in Santa Maria, Sal, Cabo Verde

    Commentary

    Partner Capacity-Building's Next Phase—Embracing Civil Works?

    The way ahead for civil works capacity-building is not without its challenges. But in places that are plagued by extremist violence and irregular warfare, fostering civil society's trust and confidence isn't just an added benefit. It could instead be a targeted outcome.

    Oct 16, 2018

  • Landing ships putting cargo ashore on Omaha Beach, mid-June, 1944

    Report

    What Shapes a Nation's Will to Fight?

    When considering threats from Russia and North Korea, it is natural to focus on military capabilities. But incorporating will to fight into the analysis of actual or potential conflicts will enhance strategic planning. A model that can be tailored and applied to various conflict scenarios can help U.S. leaders better understand and influence will to fight.

    Sep 20, 2018

  • Research Brief

    Evaluation Finds Excess Property Program Is Efficient and Effective, but Perceptions About Militarized Police Persist

    The Law Enforcement Support Office program is efficient and effectively reuses excess Department of Defense property, but perceptions persist that the program contributes to the militarization of police.

    May 21, 2018

  • A mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle was used to extract people day and night from flooded areas in Florence County, North Carolina

    Report

    DoD's Excess Property Program Works, but Perceptions About Militarized Police Persist

    The Department of Defense provides excess equipment—everything from desks to rifles to airplanes—at little or no cost to law enforcement agencies across America. This program is efficient and effective, but there are perceptions that it contributes to the militarization of police.

    May 14, 2018

  • Report

    Force Presentation in U.S. Air Force History and Airpower Narratives

    USAF leaders are concerned that their force presentation construct is lacking. This report presents historical analysis and recommendations to inform USAF deliberations regarding future force presentation constructs.

    May 7, 2018

  • A U.S. Military Transition Team leader speaks with his Iraqi counterpart during a mission to find weapons caches in the western desert near Bayji, Iraq

    Commentary

    Stabilization Is Essential to Accomplishing the Mission

    There's good reason to hope that the forthcoming policy on stabilization in places like Iraq will get the United States to the right middle road. But this new effort will fall short if Congress doesn't maintain the necessary funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

    Apr 24, 2018

  • Honour guards at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, July 4, 2016

    Commentary

    To Protect Interests Abroad, China Will Feature a Diverse Array of Military, Non-Military Forces

    As Beijing grapples with the realities of an economy increasingly susceptible to disruption from distant influences, experts debate how the Chinese military might protect overseas interests. Some have speculated that China may seek a military like that of the United States. Others have dismissed such a possibility.

    Apr 9, 2018

  • A U.S. soldier tends to Iraqi children during a mission in al-Kut, Iraq, September 19, 2008

    Report

    What Should DoD's Role in Stabilization Be?

    The U.S. military has historically shied away from stabilization activities, only to find itself tasked with performing that role. The experience of the past 15 years provides insights into what DoD should and should not be expected to undertake and into how a more effective approach to stabilization might be developed.

    Apr 5, 2018

  • News Release

    To Protect Overseas Interests, China Likely to Rely More on Contractors and Host Nation Forces Than Its Own Military

    China is far less likely to involve its military in security activities abroad than has been the case for the United States or for imperial powers of previous centuries. To bolster security for the Belt and Road Initiative and other economic activities abroad, China will instead rely heavily on civilian contractors and host nation-provided forces, with Chinese military and paramilitary forces playing an important but limited role.

    Mar 27, 2018

  • A U.S. gunnery officer discusses techniques with Chinese sailors before a joint counter-piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden, August 24, 2013

    Report

    How China Is Pursuing Overseas Security

    Thousands of China's commercial enterprises are located overseas. Millions of its citizens travel abroad each year. To protect its interests from maritime piracy, civil conflict, and other threats, China is likely to rely more on contractors and host nation forces than its own military. What will this mean for the United States?

    Mar 26, 2018

  • White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (left) speaks with U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster at U.N. headquarters in New York City, September 18, 2017

    Commentary

    Minding the Gap: The Military, Politics, and American Democracy

    The gap between Americans' confidence in the military versus its civilian counterparts has widened over the last several decades. This has led former military officers to play an increasingly prominent role in politics and changed the civil-military balance in potentially unhealthy ways.

    Dec 18, 2017

  • The Battle of Long Island, a painting by Domenick D'Andrea

    Report

    The Evolution of U.S. Military Policy

    Many assume there is a “traditional” U.S. military policy. But today's set of foundational laws for the Army wasn't an inevitable interpretation of the Constitution. Rather, it was the result of gradual changes to statutory law.

    May 4, 2017

  • Report

    Assessing and Evaluating Department of Defense Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade: Worked Example

    This report presents a realistic but fictional scenario as context for how assessment planning for inform, influence, and persuade efforts should work in practice, demonstrating core principles and best practices for developing effective assessments.

    Mar 22, 2017

  • News Release

    Humanitarian Relief and Reconstruction Program Helped Improve Economic Conditions and Security in Afghanistan

    The ability of the U.S. military to quickly provide small-scale humanitarian relief and reconstruction services in Afghanistan enhanced the operational effectiveness of U.S. forces there during the counterinsurgency-focused 2010-2013 time frame.

    Oct 13, 2016

  • Key Leader Engagement attendees observe a solar-powered water pump while discussing ongoing projects in Farah province, Afghanistan, September 28, 2013

    Report

    CERP Projects in Afghanistan Proved Effective

    Projects under the Commander's Emergency Response Program in Afghanistan ranged from rehabilitating a local well to hydro dam and reservoir restoration. The U.S. military's ability to provide humanitarian relief and reconstruction services enhanced the operational effectiveness of its forces there.

    Oct 13, 2016

  • Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara visits Fort Bragg, North Carolina in October 1961

    Commentary

    In Defense of Defense Analysis

    Rather than characterize Robert McNamara's legacy as one of inefficiency, his economic, quantitative analysis of military problems should be portrayed as an innovative, if flawed, first adoption of more sophisticated methods for defense analysis.

    Sep 2, 2016

  • The Presidio of Monterey community celebrated Earth Day with an informational fair and a tree-planting ceremony involving service members and the National Arbor Society

    Report

    The Value of Military Installation Public-to-Public Partnerships

    Partnerships have benefited both U.S. military installations and communities in terms of cost savings, improved operations, access to additional expertise and resources, and improved military-community relations.

    Jul 12, 2016

  • People's Liberation Army naval soldiers stand on a military vessel at a naval base in Hong Kong, July 1, 2016

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'China's Military Transformation,' by You Ji

    China's military has undeniably made tremendous strides in recent years. You Ji's book provides a collection of interesting and often perceptive observations on political and intellectual aspects of a rapidly modernizing People's Liberation Army.

    Jul 5, 2016

  • Commercial Book

    PLA Influence on China's National Security Policymaking

    This book assesses the relationship between the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and its civilian masters by moving beyond media and pundit speculation to mount an in-depth examination and explanation of the PLA's role in national security policymaking.

    Jun 29, 2016

  • Journal Article

    Party-Army Relations Since the 16th Party Congress: The Battle of the "Two Centers"?

    The 12 months between the 16th Party Congress in October 2002 and the party plenum in November 2003 provide a fascinating snapshot of party-army relations in China.

    Jun 27, 2016