Military Doctrine

Military doctrine is the fundamental set of principles that guides military forces as they pursue national security objectives. RAND examines these principles, which can range from the policies and procedures put in place by a particular military branch to the tactics and techniques taught to new members during training.

  • A French soldier in a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III en route to Mali to fight off extremists that have taken control of much of Northern Mali, January 20, 2013

    Commentary

    What a 1963 Novel Tells Us About the French Army, Mission Command, and the Romance of the Indochina War

    The novel La 317e Section (The 317th Platoon) informs and reflects an operating style rooted in the French Army's collective memory of the colonial wars. Colonial operations tended to be low-budget, small-footprint missions that placed junior officers in positions of considerable authority and responsibility. Service promised quick glory but was also more dangerous.

    Sep 20, 2017

  • Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service soldiers perform reloading drills with their M-4 rifles during refit training near Baghdad, Iraq, July 13, 2016

    Commentary

    Managing Chaos in an Era of Great Power Competition

    As Washington policymakers seek a new strategic course, U.S. national security strategy should not neglect the importance of competition short of armed conflict. A U.S. strategy that incorporates this perspective from the beginning could manage chaos at a reasonable cost.

    Sep 5, 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

  • Risk board game

    Commentary

    Why Strategies Disappoint — and How to Fix Them

    Strategies fail because leaders are unwilling to make difficult decisions — to focus on one threat as opposed to another, prioritize resources, and then explain their decisions publicly — at the risk of being wrong. Can the new U.S. administration succeed in fixing the strategy process?

    Mar 20, 2017

  • New U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is greeted by Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he arrives at the Pentagon outside Washington, U.S., January 21, 2017

    Commentary

    Five Simple Strategy Lessons for a New Secretary of Defense

    Secretary of Defense James Mattis will need to lay the intellectual groundwork to fulfill President Trump's promise of “a great rebuilding” of the United States military. History suggests that how the strategies are developed may be as important to their success as what they say.

    Mar 2, 2017

  • Alaska Air Guardsmen bid farewell to last C-130 Hercules aircraft, March 4, 2017

    Report

    Air Force Strategic Planning

    With the U.S. Air Force facing pressure to reduce its headquarters staff, many question the utility of strategic planning and the need to produce public strategy documents. A look at past efforts finds that strategic planning is still needed, but perhaps not in its current form.

    Feb 28, 2017

  • Venezuelan soldiers patrol during a military operation to destroy clandestine drug laboratories in Zulia, Venezuela, near the border with Colombia, December 6, 2014

    Report

    How to Counter Transnational Criminal Networks

    Transnational criminal networks have expanded their global reach. In some cases, they have even converged with terrorist groups. How do these networks threaten U.S. interests? And what can be done to combat them?

    Jan 27, 2017

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army march in a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, September 3, 2015

    Report

    Understanding China's Strategy

    Beijing's perceptions and assessments aren't static. They evolve as China's standing in the world increases and its interests grow. U.S. leaders should focus on understanding and managing competition with China on a global scale.

    Dec 6, 2016

  • Moral compass image from RR1505

    Project

    Understanding the Moral Dimension of Conflict

    Cyber and autonomous capabilities challenge the core principles of morality frameworks in a number of ways. While a prominent question in the public debate is whether morality can be reduced to an algorithm, the body of academic work on the subject is more nuanced.

    Oct 24, 2016

  • Report

    The moral component of cross-domain conflict

    The study considers the body of work on morality and armed conflict in the future operating environment and provides insights on the ways in which new ways of fighting may challenge traditional moral principles.

    Oct 20, 2016

  • News Release

    Ukraine's Security Sector Needs Substantial Reform

    An assessment of Ukraine's security sector determines what different institutions need to do and where gaps exist. Roles and responsibilities need to be clarified, and coordination is needed among individual ministries and agencies.

    Oct 5, 2016

  • Ukrainian servicemen take part in a rehearsal for the Independence Day military parade in central Kiev, Ukraine, August 22, 2016

    Report

    Security Sector Reform in Ukraine

    The 2014 Maidan revolution created an opportunity for change in a system that had resisted it for 25 years. The Ukrainian security establishment has progressed since then, but its efforts have been insufficient to address the threats now facing the nation.

    Oct 5, 2016

  • News Release

    Russia, China and Iran Use Measures Short of War to Further Strategic Ends Against the U.S.

    The United States will have to address the problems of foreign intervention and threats short of war if it is to prevent further erosion of its global influence by its competitors.

    May 31, 2016

  • Chess pieces in front of an American flag

    Report

    Russia, China, and Iran Use Measures Short of War to Further Strategic Ends Against the U.S.

    The United States will have to address the problems of foreign intervention and threats short of war if it is to prevent further erosion of its global influence by its competitors. Policymakers and the military services should consider ways to better identify, forestall, and counteract the use of measures short of war against U.S. and allied interests.

    May 31, 2016

  • Report

    The Crisis Within: America's Military and the Struggle Between the Overseas and Guardian Paradigms

    The nation's understanding of both the common defense and organized violence has changed dramatically since 2001. This report is an attempt to start a conversation about how to better understand America's 21st-century military.

    Apr 27, 2016

  • 2nd Lt. Mary Kauffman, Ohio Army National Guard, crawls through mud during the Warrior Dash Aug. 11, 2013, in North Lawrence, Ohio

    Report

    Demystifying the Citizen Soldier

    This report analyzes the National Guard's centrality to American national security, the idea that it prevents the United States from fighting controversial foreign wars, and its claim to embody the concept of the citizen soldier.

    Dec 3, 2015

  • Report

    The Continued Evolution of U.S. Law of Armed Conflict Implementation: Implications for the U.S. Military

    RAND researchers examine potential strategic, technological, and normative trends that may affect the future evolution of U.S. policies that implement the Law of Armed Conflict, and assess the resulting implications for the U.S. military.

    Nov 9, 2015

  • U.S. Army General receives a mountaintop briefing from American and Afghan Special Forces on Camp Moorehead, Afghanistan

    Commentary

    The U.S. Military: Between a Rock and a Repulsive Place

    There is a reasonable argument that the best route to address pedophilia and other human rights violations by Afghan forces is to remain engaged, and to make U.S. support conditioned upon remediation and accountability, as the Leahy law requires.

    Sep 29, 2015

  • Report

    A Conceptual Framework for More Effectively Integrating Combat Support Capabilities and Constraints into Contingency Planning and Execution

    This publication describes a conceptual framework for better integrating combat support capabilities and constraints into contingency planning and execution.

    Sep 2, 2015

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs the Security Council in Moscow's Kremlin, December 26, 2014

    Commentary

    Russia's New Military Doctrine: Same as the Old Doctrine, Mostly

    Russia maintains it will use military force only defensively, when other options have failed. But this is the doctrine of a state that sees a lot to defend against, even as its interests expand globally. The danger is Moscow's view of threats everywhere may prove self-fulfilling.

    Jan 15, 2015