Military Doctrine

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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.

  • U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Jason Armagost, commander of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, talks with a Qatari Emiri Air Force dignitary at the Qatar Emiri Air Force Family Cultural Exchange at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Dec. 1, 2017. The cultural exchange, hosted by the QEAF, was a relationship building event that gave families and members of Qatari, U.S. and coalition forces an opportunity to interact and learn about each others cultures. The event included cultural exhibits, regional animals, local food, games for children and more, photo by Staff Sgt. Patrick Evenson/U.S. Air National Guard

    Report

    Human Aspects of Air Force Operations

    The special operations community has focused on leveraging human-focused capabilities, but the conventional Air Force has yet to fully embrace human aspects of military operations. Is there a need for a joint warfighting domain focused on human aspects of military operations?

    Nov 30, 2020

  • Boys gather near a building damaged by a U.S. drone air strike targeting suspected al Qaeda militants in Shabwa, Yemen, February 3, 2013, photo by Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/Reuters

    Commentary

    Trying to Forestall the Next Civilian Casualty Horror

    After civilians are injured or killed, the U.S. Defense Department isn't doing enough to learn from its own failures. The Pentagon needs to devote resources and senior leader attention to an issue that has historically lacked both. Civilian protection should become the singular priority for a critical mass of people across the organization.

    Feb 3, 2022

Explore Military Doctrine

  • A woman from Ukraine listens to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's speech on a phone, at a refugee shelter after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Beregsurany, Hungary, February 28, 2022, photo by Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Will to Fight in the Age of Social Media

    Social media messaging has played a decisive role in strengthening Ukraine's will to fight—arguably the single most important factor in war—against Russia.

    Mar 22, 2022

  • U.S. soldiers observe from a rooftop position in Mosul, Iraq

    Multimedia

    Press Briefing on U.S. Department of Defense Civilian Casualty Policies and Procedures

    Researchers from the RAND Corporation brief the press on an independent RAND assessment of U.S. Department of Defense standards, processes, procedures, and policies relating to civilian casualties resulting from U.S. military operations.

    Mar 8, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Problems in U.S. Schools, Conflict with Russia, Opioid Trafficking: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on what America's school district leaders are worried about, how to break the cycle of conflict with Russia, a new report on synthetic opioid trafficking, and more.

    Feb 11, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Preventing Civilian Casualties, Drinking During the Pandemic, Vaccination Equity: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on reforming the Pentagon's policies on civilian casualties, checking in on school principals' well-being, alcohol use in the COVID-19 era, and more.

    Jan 28, 2022

  • News Release

    News Release

    Pentagon Processes on Civilian Casualties Inconsistent, in Need of Reform

    Lessons from U.S. military strikes that caused civilian casualties are not shared across the Department of Defense (DoD) in a way that meaningfully reduces future civilian casualties.

    Jan 27, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Building Military Coalitions: Lessons from U.S. Experience

    This report describes factors that seem to be associated with U.S. decisions to use coalitions for military interventions, factors that drive partner states to join such coalitions, and factors that shape the success of military coalitions.

    Nov 30, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Understanding the Ministry of Defence's Wider Contribution to UK Prosperity: Measuring Defence Output

    The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD)'s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) commissioned RAND Europe to examine different approaches to assessing UK Defence's contribution to national prosperity.

    Jul 14, 2021

  • Image of a HAR2 Bell Griffin helicopter, seen here at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus on 4 July 2021 assisting with efforts to tackle wildfires across Cyprus, photo by Cpl Phil Dye/UK Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright

    Multimedia

    Understanding the Value of Defence

    RAND Europe Defence, Security and Infrastructure director Ruth Harris and Research Leader James Black examine the ‘value proposition’ of UK defence in this audio conversation. They explore how the value it brings to the nation can be better articulated across government, to partners and to the wider public.

    Jul 13, 2021

  • U.S. Army soldiers participate in a parade in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2013, photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    The Link Between Extremism and Military Functioning

    U.S. Department of Defense policy prohibits service members from actively participating in extremist activities. Broadening the policy to include passive forms of participation could introduce two challenges.

    May 20, 2021

  • Battalion of French soldiers of the RSMA marching during a monthly ceremony rewarding the young soldiers in Saint-Paul, LaRéunion, June 28 2017, photo by Gwengoat/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Grand Strategy Is Total: French Gen. Andre Beaufré on the Nuclear Age

    Gen. André Beaufre, the father of contemporary French strategic thought, epitomizes better than anyone the traits that make modern French military theory unusually rich. He is also a key for accessing a rich and distinctly different way of thinking about war with direct applications for today, whether one is pondering Afghanistan or how to deal with China.

    Oct 8, 2020

  • French military academy cadets during a military parade on the Champs-Élysées, in Paris, France, July 14, 2007, photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen/ CC BY 2.5

    Commentary

    Modern War for Romantics: Ferdinand Foch and the Principles of War

    Recent American military history suggests civilian and military leaders could benefit from studying French military strategy. For those who wish to understand French military thinking, the place to start is with Marshal Ferdinand Foch.

    Jul 8, 2020

  • U.S. Army soldiers man a defensive position at Forward Operating Base Union III in Baghdad, Iraq, December 31, 2019, photo by Maj. Charlie Dietz/Task Force-Iraq Public Affairs Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    Can Iraq Evict U.S. Forces?

    The Iraqi parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from Iraq. This vote was nonbinding, and the Iraqi caretaker government cannot pass laws, but it does indicate that a majority in parliament wants U.S. forces to leave.

    Jan 6, 2020

  • Circuit board with chip with image of missile, photo by guirong hao/Getty Images

    Commentary

    AI for Peace

    The United States should apply lessons from the 70-year history of governing nuclear technology by building a framework for governing AI military technology. An AI for Peace program should articulate the dangers of this new technology, principles to manage the dangers, and a structure to shape the incentives for other states.

    Dec 13, 2019

  • Artificial Intelligence, Graphical User Interface, photo by kontekbrothers/Getty Images

    Commentary

    A Code of Conduct for AI in Defense Should Be an Extension of Other Military Codes

    An AI code of conduct for defense should look a lot like all other defense codes of conduct. A global society that would create the Geneva Convention is a society that believes in a moral code for warfare. This same code could extend into its weaponized algorithms.

    Sep 11, 2019

  • Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and Chief of the General Staff, First Deputy Minister Valery Gerasimov, before a meeting with Russian Defence Ministry leadership and defense industry heads photo courtesy of Office of the Russian President/ Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

    Commentary

    A New Russian Military Doctrine: What It Might Contain and Why It Matters

    The United States and its allies should anticipate the possibility of an updated Russian military doctrine as early as 2020. Evaluating this document closely is important for understanding Russian threat perceptions and the leadership's methods to address those threats.

    Sep 9, 2019

  • French army officers salute during the traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris July 14, 2012, photo by Charles Platiau/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Insurgent Counter-Insurgent: The French Army's Hero and Some Truths About Modern Warfare

    When asked about their heroes, one name comes up with French Army officers more than any other: Hélie Denoix de Saint Marc. Saint Marc lived an extraordinary life, to be sure. But his story also contains important lessons about modern warfare and counter-insurgency warfare in particular, the work of training local forces, and the imperative of aligning military means with realistic political objectives.

    Jul 25, 2019

  • Report

    Report

    Distributed Operations in a Contested Environment: Implications for USAF Force Presentation

    This report's authors identify capabilities the Air Force needs to carry out distributed operations in a contested environment. They then assess whether the current force presentation model can provide such capabilities.

    Jul 17, 2019

  • The purported wreckage of an American drone is seen displayed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, Iran, June 21, 2019, photo by Meghdad Madadi/Tasnim News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    The Flawed Logic of Proportionality

    President Trump halted a retaliatory strike against Iran on the basis that it would have claimed many Iranian lives and was not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. There are many good reasons to avoid attacking Iran, but if Washington must resort to force in the future, it should avoid the flawed logic of proportionality.

    Jul 1, 2019

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) honor guards at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 28, 2019, photo by Parker Song/Reuters

    Commentary

    Getting to Know the Competition

    Americans are facing a new reality in global great power relations that will define the trajectory of U.S. foreign policy for the foreseeable future. Understanding China's threat perceptions, while remaining clear-eyed regarding differences in objectives, is essential to developing strategies to deter conflict.

    May 13, 2019