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.

  • 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

    Sep 13, 2019

    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.

  • A Skyborg conceptual design for a low-cost attritable unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), image by Air Force Research Laboratory

    Report

    Military Applications of AI Raise Ethical Concerns

    Apr 28, 2020

    Artificial intelligence offers great promise for national defense. For example, a growing number of robotic vehicles and autonomous weapons can operate in areas too hazardous for soldiers. But what are the ethical implications of using AI in war or even to enhance security in peacetime?

Explore Military Doctrine

  • binary cyber wave graphic

    Report

    Redefining Information Warfare Boundaries for an Army in a Wireless World

    The U.S. Army is studying ways to apply its cyber power and is reconsidering doctrinally defined areas related to cyberspace operations. Clarifying the overlap between network and information operations and other areas could inform Army doctrine.

    Jan 16, 2013

  • One of a flight of F-5A Freedom Fighter,armed with 500-pound bombs,refuels from a KC-135 tanker somewhere over Vietnam in February 1966.

    Report

    U.S. Global Defense Posture, 1783–2011

    Debates over the U.S. global defense posture are not new. As policymakers today evaluate the U.S. forward military presence, it is important that they understand how and why the U.S. global posture has changed in the past. This historical overview has important implications for current policy and future efforts to develop an American military strategy, in particular the scope, size, and type of military presence overseas.

    Jan 14, 2013

  • Report

    Adapting the Army's Training and Leader Development Programs for Future Challenges

    Examines the adequacy of overall Army Training and Leader Development (ALTD) management processes, identifies areas for improvement, and develops directions that the Army could take to improve its ATLD management process.

    Jan 10, 2013

  • Commercial Book

    China's Search for Security

    Despite its impressive size and population, economic vitality, and drive to upgrade its military capabilities, China remains a vulnerable nation surrounded by powerful rivals and potential foes. The key to understanding China's foreign policy is to grasp these geostrategic challenges, which persist even as the country comes to dominate its neighbors.

    Dec 14, 2012

  • Report

    "Over Not Through": The Search for a Strong, Unified Culture for America's Airmen

    This paper explores Airmen's culture and outlines five cultural narratives that are tied to major moments in the Air Force's history. It argues that a single Air Force narrative is essential to serve the nation best.

    Oct 29, 2012

  • Iranian protest-rally against Ahmadinejad September 26, 2012 in NYC

    Commentary

    How Would Iran Fight Back?

    Iranian leaders are well aware that they cannot defeat the U.S. military in a face-to-face conflict. But as Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel demonstrated, battlefield losses (or draws) can be turned into psychological victories, writes Alireza Nader.

    Oct 1, 2012

  • News Release

    Looming Strategic Choices for U.S. Overseas Military Presence

    Since World War II, the United States has relied on a global network of military bases and forces to protect its interests and those of its allies. But the international environment has changed greatly and economic concerns have risen, leading some to debate just what America's role should now be in the world.

    Sep 12, 2012

  • Report

    Looming Strategic Choices for U.S. Overseas Military Presence

    Since World War II, the United States has relied on a global network of military bases and forces to protect its interests and those of its allies. But the international environment has changed greatly and economic concerns have risen, leading some to debate just what America's role should now be in the world.

    Sep 11, 2012

  • Report

    Making Improvements to The Army Distributed Learning Program

    Assesses the performance of The Army Distributed Learning Program (TADLP) and looks at ways to strengthen the Army's interactive multimedia instruction (IMI) program by improving both the quality of the product and the efficiency of the process.

    Mar 28, 2012

  • Report

    A Review of the Army's Modular Force Structure

    In 2003, the U.S. Army moved from a division-based to a brigade-centric modular force structure. Congress requested a study of the process and outcomes of the initiative to assess the impact on the Army's capabilities in a range of operations.

    Mar 16, 2012

  • Report

    Assessing Freedom of Movement for Counterinsurgency Campaigns

    This report examines how a military staff might assess freedom of movement as a strategic and tactical indicator in counterinsurgency, and specifically in Afghanistan.

    Jan 12, 2012

  • Report

    RAND Project AIR FORCE Annual Report 2011

    This annual report describes selected RAND Project AIR FORCE research during 2011 in the areas of strategy and doctrine; force modernization and employment; manpower, personnel, and training; and resource management.

    Dec 22, 2011

  • Report

    Reshaping the Army's Active and Reserve Components

    Assesses how Army active and reserve forces are used, to analyze policy options that would improve utilization of reserve forces.

    Dec 15, 2011

  • Army Sgt. Brian McCown teaches Army Pfc. Frankie Busby the responsibilities of an electronic warfare noncommissioned officer at Camp Taji, Iraq, June 9, 2011, photo by Spc. William A. Joeckel/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    History Shows Danger of Arbitrary Defense Cuts

    As America embarks on a tough strategic journey in the aftermath of Iraq, and contends with an ailing economy, it is wise to be mindful of the difference between hope and fact, writes Paula G. Thornhill.

    Nov 23, 2011

  • Report

    Security Force Assistance in Afghanistan

    Security force assistance (SFA) is a central pillar of the counterinsurgency campaign being waged by U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. An analysis of SFA efforts documents U.S. and international approaches to building the Afghan National Security Forces from 2001 to 2009 and provides recommendations and their implications for the U.S Army.

    Sep 7, 2011

  • Report

    Nuclear Deterrence in Europe: Russian Approaches to a New Environment and Implications for the United States

    Examines Russia's evolving framework for nuclear deterrence and its implications for U.S. military operations in Europe.

    Aug 18, 2011

  • Report

    Alliances in the 21st Century: Implications for the US-European partnership

    This paper presents a theory of natural alliances in which commonalities in political culture are a strategic asset for better coordination and greater predictability among partners. It applies this theory to the case of the US-European alliance.

    Jun 28, 2011

  • News Release

    U.S. Prisoner of War, Detainee Operations Need More Advance Planning

    Prisoner-of-war and detainee operations are a crucial component in the successful prosecution of a conflict -- particularly in counterinsurgency operations -- and should be upgraded to receive more attention and better advance preparation.

    Jun 9, 2011

  • Report

    U.S. Prisoner of War, Detainee Operations Need More Advance Planning

    Prisoner-of-war and detainee operations are a crucial component in the successful prosecution of a conflict — particularly in counterinsurgency operations — and should be upgraded to receive more attention and better advance preparation.

    Jun 9, 2011

  • News Release

    Flawed Strategy, Not a 'Failure of Air Power,' Led to Israel's Disappointing Performance in 2006 Lebanon War

    Israel's disappointing performance in its war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 did not reflect a "failure of air power," but rather a failure of Israel's political and military leaders to properly assess the enemy, set achievable goals, apply an effective strategy and adequately manage public expectations.

    May 23, 2011