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.

  • President Faure Gnassingbe and Presidential candidate of UNIR (Union for the Republic) winner of the presidential election speaks in front of his supporters at his headquarters in Lome, Togo, February 24, 2020, photo by Luc Gnago/Reuters

    Commentary

    Family Matters: More of the Same in Togo

    Faure Gnassingbe was reelected in February to a fourth term as president of Togo. The result was no surprise. Due to the stacked system he and his father built, Faure is likely to rule until 2030 or beyond.

    Mar 6, 2020

  • Americans, providing the main muscle for a global peace force, cross a pontoon bridge toward the northern Bosnian town of Orasje, December 31, 1995, photo by Petar Kudjundzic/Reuters

    Report

    Seizing the 'Golden Hour' of Stability Operations

    The early phases of stability operations are critical for improving the odds of success and reducing the costs of achieving an acceptable outcome. Both diplomatic and military actions to provide security in the postconflict country are essential and should be integrated. Past U.S. interventions offer valuable lessons.

    Feb 11, 2020

  • A saluting soldier and a civilian man in an airport, images by ViewApart and MariaArefyeva/Getty Images; design by Rick Penn-Kraus/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Do Civilians Receive the Support They Need After Deployment?

    As more U.S. government civilians have been deployed over the past two decades, increasing numbers have been exposed to high-threat environments. Combat exposure and related stressors correlate with significant levels of health conditions. How are these civilians reintegrated when they return?

    Feb 11, 2020

  • Old Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) Fort Sam Houston, photo by Beth E. Lachman

    Report

    Improving Army Installation Facility and Land Use Deals and Partnerships

    Army installation facility and land use deals and partnerships can provide substantial benefits such as include saving costs and improving installation operations. What are the most promising approaches and practices that can be used to develop and implement these deals and partnerships?

    Sep 16, 2019

  • People carry banners and Algerian national flags during a protest calling on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to quit, in Algiers, Algeria, March 22, 2019, photo by Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

    Commentary

    African Dictators Have Been Losing Power—Some to Democratic Governments. Militaries Can Tip the Scales Toward Democracy

    Africa's security forces most often make headlines when they commit atrocities, crack down on protesters, or seize power in coups. But Africa's troops can also contribute to democracy and peace when they lay down their arms or refuse orders to turn their guns against the people.

    Sep 16, 2019

  • Riflemen compete in the Lithuanian Best Infantry Squad Competition at Rukla Training Area, Lithuania, August 24, 2017, photo by Lithuanian Land Forces

    Research Brief

    Why Understanding 'Will to Fight' Is Crucial

    Arguably, will to fight is the most important factor in war. The best technology in the world is useless without the force of will to use it and to keep using it even as casualties mount and unexpected calamities arise. Ignoring will to fight can contribute to tactical or even strategic defeat.

    Sep 13, 2019

  • U.S. Marines hold military drills during Fourth of July Independence Day celebrations in Washington, D.C., July 4, 2019, photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Commentary

    Americans Have Faith in the Military, but They Don't Understand It

    The U.S. military is a central element of America's power and history. It dominates discretionary spending and remains the country's most trusted institution. However, it is peripheral to the daily life of most citizens.

    Sep 13, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    From Ballot-Boxes to Barracks: Votes, Institutions, and Post-Election Coups

    If war is too important to be left to the generals, politics may be too contentious to be left to the civilians. At least this is what frequent military forays into the political arena suggest. But when and why does the military actively intervene in politics?

    Mar 26, 2019

  • Competitors prepare to fire during the 2015 Civilian Marksmanship Program National Trophy Pistol Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio, photo by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond J. Piper/U.S. Army

    Report

    An Evaluation of the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety

    The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act required an evaluation of the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety and its Civilian Marksmanship Program. This report summarizes the RAND Arroyo Center evaluation.

    Feb 25, 2019

  • Report

    Report

    Organizational Dynamics Between the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Manpower and Reserve Affairs (SAF/MR) and the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services (AF/A1)

    This Perspective offers recommendations on how the relationship between the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Manpower and Reserve Affairs and the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services might be further refined.

    Jan 4, 2019

  • 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

    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

    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

    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 27, 2018