Military Intelligence


Military intelligence includes information on other countries' military forces, plans, and operations gained through a variety of collection methods. RAND analyzes this intelligence to help civilian policymakers and military leaders understand political and military trends around the world, the sources of potential regional conflict, and emerging threats to the global security environment, and provides recommendations on how best to employ information-gathering techniques and technologies.

  • Syrian residents watch as U.S. troops patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria, November 4, 2018


    Intelligence Losses Pose Large Risks as U.S. Troops Head Home

    Jan 24, 2019

    Departing theaters such as Syria and Afghanistan carries a host of associated risks, challenges and potential benefits. Leaders would be well served to factor into the debate the importance of U.S. intelligence collection capabilities, its connection to U.S. presence overseas and its role in anticipating current and future threats.

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    Research Brief

    Improving Intelligence Support for Operations in the Information Environment

    Dec 17, 2020

    Challenges to effective intelligence support for operations in the information environment (OIE) can be addressed by improving processes, prioritizing support for OIE, training and educating personnel, and optimally allocating personnel.

Explore Military Intelligence

  • U.S. soldiers take pictures of President Barack Obama at U.S. military base Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea, April 26, 2014


    Loose Clicks Sink Ships: When Social Media Meets Military Intelligence

    Social media updates can reveal military intelligence. But stopping a soldier from posting a geotagged tweet or Instagram photo presents challenges.

    Aug 14, 2015

  • Smoke rises during clashes between Kurdish peshmerga troops and militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIL, on the outskirts of Sinjar, August 5, 2014


    Disrupting Terrorist Safe Havens

    Disrupting the terrorist safe havens in Syria and Iraq would require a balanced approach that makes the business of terrorist planning and training difficult without entangling U.S. forces in new conflicts and angering the very populations the United States seeks to assist.

    Aug 18, 2014

  • Report


    Lessons Learned from the Afghan Mission Network: Developing a Coalition Contingency Network

    Reviews and assesses the operational and technical history of the Afghan Mission Network, the primary network for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and identifies lessons learned for future coalition networks.

    Mar 28, 2014

  • U.S. and Afghan soldiers search a camel's cargo


    Improving the U.S. Military's Understanding of Unstable Environments Vulnerable to Violent Extremist Groups: Insights from Social Science

    What factors create and perpetuate environments susceptible to insurgency, terrorism, and other extremist violence and instability? Twelve are presented to inform military decisions on allocation of analytic and security assistance resources.

    Jan 16, 2014

  • An MQ-8B Fire Scout in flight


    Motion Imagery Processing and Exploitation (MIPE)

    Motion Imagery Processing and Exploitation (MIPE) systems aid analysts in the detection, identification, and tracking of objects of interest and activities of interest in live and archival video. This report defines and investigates the potential of MIPE systems, which can enable military intelligence analysts to respond to the current information deluge and exploit a wide range of motion imagery collections.

    Dec 4, 2013

  • Pakistani girl holds up a picture she drew depicting the U.S. drone strike on her village which killed her grandmother


    The Downside of Drones

    The chief political drawback is that target countries' populations view drone attacks as violations of their sovereignty every bit as much as manned raids. The chief military drawback: A drone attack destroys the critical intelligence that is needed to ensure that the tactical strike can be converted to strategic advantage.

    Nov 1, 2013

  • U.S. marines during a live-fire exercise on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio


    Do U.S. Raids in Libya, Somalia Signal a Shift in Terror Strategy?

    The raids that the United States conducted over the weekend in Libya and Somalia could signal a new focus in Washington on capturing terrorist suspects and gathering intelligence rather than relying on drone strikes. RAND experts Linda Robinson, Angel Rabasa, and Seth Jones comment.

    Oct 10, 2013

  • A soldier with the Army's intelligence community demonstrated use of a portion of the Army's Distributed Common Ground System


    Calling for a Time-Out in the Army Intelligence Software Debate

    The Army's Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) program has been getting much attention from Congress, and its future was the subject of a heated exchange between the Army's Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno and Representative Duncan Hunter in May.

    Aug 21, 2013

  • U.S. Army sergeant throws a smoke grenade to mask his team's movements during a joint operation with the Iraqi police


    Learning Curve

    The post-Vietnam “never again” attitude led to a severe atrophy of the U.S. military's counterinsurgency skills and it is quite possible that the U.S. military will go through a similar phase of unlearning over the next several years, writes James Dobbins.

    Mar 14, 2013

  • As seen through a night-vision device, U.S. Army soldiers move through grasses to an overwatch position in Sabari, Khowst province, Afghanistan


    New 'Rule Book' to Set Parameters for Targeted Killings

    A constrictive rule book against direct-action counterterrorism techniques could be in tension with operational realities. But it would go some way toward establishing the legal and ethical framework under which such difficult decisions are made, writes Patrick Johnston.

    Dec 5, 2012

  • Dissertation


    Occupational Burnout and Retention of Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) Intelligence Personnel

    Explores occupational burnout and retention of Air Force intelligence analysts working in the Distributed Common Ground System.

    Oct 30, 2012

  • A U.S. Army soldier aims his M4 carbine over a wall in Char Shaka, Kandahar province, Afghanistan


    Do Targeted Killings Work?

    When terrorists are afraid to poke their heads above ground, it becomes exceedingly difficult for them to communicate, coordinate, and conduct attacks—especially sophisticated ones like 9/11, writes Patrick B. Johnston.

    Sep 28, 2012

  • U.S. service members in a training exercise during Cyber Flag


    Military Intelligence Fusion for Complex Operations: A New Paradigm

    A proposed a paradigm shift in how military intelligence is fused, via behavioral intelligence analysis, a concept that provides a more complete picture of the complex counterinsurgency environment.

    Jul 23, 2012

  • Report


    RAND NSRD Annual Report 2011-2012

    Surveys the work of the RAND National Security Research Division from the spring of 2011 through the winter of 2012.

    Jun 8, 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

  • USARAF commander meets with Mauritanian senior leaders

    Research Brief

    Addressing Commanders' Needs for Information on "Soft" Factors

    A framework for thinking about commanders' critical information needs in countersurgency operations, offering practical ways for commanders to integrate influence activities into combined arms planning and assessment.

    Dec 5, 2011

  • Report


    From Insurgency to Stability: Volume II: Insights from Selected Case Studies

    This book examines six case studies of insurgencies from around the world to determine the key factors in the successful transition from counterinsurgency toward stability.

    Sep 7, 2011

  • Report


    Analysis of Subnational Government in Afghanistan Identifies Opportunities for Improvement

    The existing subnational government across Afghanistan is too centralized and weak to fulfill two basic requirements of legitimacy: effective service provision and representation. Opportunities for improvement are outlined for international actors hoping to strengthen local government in recently cleared areas.

    Aug 10, 2011

  • Report


    An Organizational Design Assessment of U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence

    Over the past decade, U.S. Marine Corps intelligence has had to tailor its organization to meet the evolving demands of the operational environment. A broad review of its design examined how to align it efficiently and effectively with current and future missions and functions.

    Jul 13, 2011

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    What Should We Expect of Our Spies?

    Questions not asked or stories not imagined by policy are not likely to be answered or developed by intelligence, writes Gregory F. Treverton.

    May 25, 2011

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  • MI