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 PLAAF J-20 stealth fighter performs during the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, China, November 6, 2018

    Report

    How the U.S. Air Force Shapes China's Military Aerospace Goals

    Aerospace power has been a core feature of the People's Liberation Army's rapid modernization. The main driver for its development is the PLA's view that it needs to be prepared to deter and, if necessary, defeat the United States in a high-end clash.

    Nov 21, 2018

  • Report

    The Language of Inform, Influence, and Persuade: Assessment Lexicon and Usage Guide for U.S. European Command Efforts

    Inconsistency in how assessment is discussed can lead to confusion, miscommunication, and the appearance of agreement or disagreement when the opposite is true. RAND researchers developed this lexicon and usage guide to help combat this problem.

    Oct 18, 2018

  • Japanese destroyer Inazuma test firing its 76-millimetre cannon in the Indian Ocean, September 27, 2018. Picture taken September 27, 2018

    Commentary

    Japan's Invisible Hand

    Shinzo Abe has cemented his position as Japan's prime minister for the next three years. Now he is expected to make a concerted push for revising the Constitution, which has not been amended since 1947. But the Japanese public is not convinced of the need to revise the Constitution, making his efforts likely to fail.

    Oct 10, 2018

  • Soldiers set off for a foot patrol after disembarking from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan, September 4, 2018

    Commentary

    The Risks of Permanent War

    Why is America in Afghanistan? What interests justify its sacrifices? How will the war end? If the United States finds it hard to answer such questions after nearly two decades, the coming years are unlikely to provide clarity. If a campaign has no end, it can have no objective. If it has no objective, it cannot be won.

    Sep 28, 2018

  • U.S. Army, Air Force, and Italian paratroopers conduct joint airborne operations in Vicenza, Italy, July 16, 2013

    Report

    Learning from Past U.S. Army–Air Force Collaborations

    The Army and the Air Force are developing the concept of multi-domain battle to better coordinate air and ground forces to meet shared challenges. Lessons from past efforts show that to succeed, multi-domain battle will have to address the fundamental questions of each service's culture and deeply held views about warfighting.

    Sep 13, 2018

  • 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