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.

  • Report

    Promoting Joint Warfighting Proficiency: The Role of Doctrine in Preparing Airmen for Joint Operations

    This report describes the differences and similarities between Air Force and joint doctrine and identifies ways to increase doctrinal alignment. It also evaluates the potential role of doctrine in increasing airmen's joint warfighting proficiency.

    Aug 16, 2018

  • A Vietnamese floating guard station on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, April 12, 2010

    Commentary

    Deciphering Vietnam's Evolving Military Doctrine in the South China Sea

    Vietnam has sought to balance China's expanding presence in the South China Sea through diplomacy and military modernization. The Vietnam People's Army has acquired many useful weapons, but unfamiliarity with combat in the sea and air will test its evolving military doctrine.

    May 11, 2018

  • Achieving cross-doman synergy

    Commentary

    Toward One Understanding of Multiple Domains

    The U.S. defense community can and should do what it can to get the most benefit from operating across domains. It just needs to remember to proceed carefully to discern between actual benefits and falsehoods that may do more harm than good.

    May 2, 2018

  • Journal Article

    Paradigm Change: Operational Art and the Information Joint Function

    The potential benefit of information as a joint function is clear. Commanders could measure campaign success by evaluating emergent behavior of relevant actors defining strategic outcomes rather than focusing too intently on the physics of fighting.

    May 2, 2018

  • U.S. soldiers serving with deterrence forces perform a scenario-based situation exercise with Polish soldiers acting as civilians near the Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, February 6, 2018

    Report

    The Role of Deterrence in U.S. Defense Policy

    Deterrence is about much more than merely threatening an adversary. It must be conceived primarily as an effort to shape the thinking of a potential aggressor. Any strategy to prevent aggression must begin with an assessment of the potential aggressor's interests, motives, and imperatives.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • Report

    Malleability and Measurement of Army Leader Attributes: Personnel Development in the U.S. Army

    This review addresses the degree to which leader characteristics associated with attributes in the Army Leader Requirements Model can be developed through training and education and identifies approaches to measuring those characteristics.

    Apr 12, 2018

  • French soldiers of the 13th engineering regiment inspect the perimeter of a touareg home near Tin Hama, Mali, October 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Meet France's War Philosophers

    Gen. Vincent Desportes and Col. Michel Goya draw on careers focused on the study and practice of war and share a grimmer and more Hobbesian vision than what one normally meets in French public debates. This makes them appealing guides to the dark world in which the French now find themselves.

    Jan 5, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers his speech during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 18, 2017

    Commentary

    Xi's Consolidation of Power at the 19th Party Congress: Implications for PLA Aerospace Forces

    Xi Jinping has emerged from the 19th Party Congress stronger than at least his past two predecessors. He solidified his grip on power and revealed significant changes to the Central Military Commission, which oversees the People's Liberation Army.

    Dec 11, 2017

  • A Russian soldier on top of an army vehicle keeps watch outside a border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava, March 1, 2014

    Report

    How Russia's Military Has Evolved

    The Russian armed forces are not like the Soviet Army in size, depth, or global ideological aspirations. But Russia has demonstrated its military competence and operational flexibility in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria.

    Dec 7, 2017

  • Report

    Strategic Planning and the U.S. Air Force: Characteristics of Success

    The U.S. Air Force has embarked on a new round of strategic planning under the auspices of its 2015 Strategic Master Plan. This report represents a general survey of the state of the art in strategy and planning.

    Nov 10, 2017

  • 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

  • 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