Military Strategy

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RAND research on military strategy has ranged from issues related to the tactics that lead to success in armed engagements, to work that describes how the size and deployment of one nation's military affects its political relationships with others.

  • Russian soldiers man a checkpoint near the Georgian village of Kekhvi in breakaway South Ossetia, August 21, 2008, photo by Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

    Report

    What Drives U.S. Adversaries to Use Military Forces Abroad?

    Sep 27, 2021

    Where, how, and how often have China, Russia, and Iran intervened militarily since 1946? A review of their behavior and that of other U.S. adversaries identifies why they initiated military interventions and why they might do so in the future.

  • 3D illustration of a conceptual maze. Shortcut between points A and B or finding the shortest path concept, photo by livier Le Moal/Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Report

    Leveraging Complexity in Great-Power Competition and Warfare: Volume I

    Aug 26, 2021

    The United States should aim to minimize the element of complexity for itself while maximizing it for its adversary in great-power competition and warfare. But what does complexity mean in an Air Force context? And how can it be used as a method of attack?

Explore Military Strategy

  • U.S. and China flags made into puzzle pieces, photo by studiocasper/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Shaping China's Ambitions

    Managing a rivalry with a regionally ambitious, globally engaged peer competitor of China's economic heft and technological sophistication will be one of the most profound strategic tests the United States has ever faced. A major lesson from its last global rivalry is that mistaken impressions about the nature of the rival and the character of the rivalry can create momentum for dangerous policies.

    Jan 24, 2022

  • Ukraine soldiers engaging in military training in various unknown locations, January 20, 2022, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    U.S. Military Aid to Ukraine: A Silver Bullet?

    U.S. military assistance to Ukraine now will at best be marginal in affecting the outcome of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. It might be morally justified to help a U.S. partner at risk of aggression. But given the scale of the potential threat to Ukraine and its forces, the most effective way Washington can help is to work on finding a diplomatic solution.

    Jan 21, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Multi-Domain Integration in Defence: Conceptual Approaches and Lessons from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea

    A study examining Russia, China, Iran and North Korea's current and future thinking on Multi-Domain Integration.

    Jan 20, 2022

  • Ukrainian service members unload anti-tank weapons supplied by Britain at the Boryspil airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, January 18, 2022, photo by Ukrainian Defence Ministry/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    Ukraine Needs Help Surviving Airstrikes, Not Just Killing Tanks

    A Russian large-scale multidomain operation would be devastating for the Ukrainian military and people, and Ukraine should work to prevent that. But steps can also be taken to reduce the effects of the air and missile strikes that would likely lead off such an operation.

    Jan 19, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    How to Effectively Assess the Impact of Non-Lethal Weapons as Intermediate Force Capabilities

    This report describes how to evaluate the impact of non-lethal weapons (NLWs). Characterizing the contribution of NLWs to strategic goals provides insights into their effective integration throughout U.S. Department of Defense operations.

    Jan 18, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Nuclear-Use Cases for Contemplating Crisis and Conflict on the Korean Peninsula

    The paper sketches diverse scenarios brandishing or using nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, scenarios motivated by a logic of possibilities and supplemented by human considerations such as desperation.

    Jan 7, 2022

  • Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Murasame-class Yuudachi transits the South China Sea during a joint operation photo exercise, October 28, 2021, photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Langholf/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Taiwan and Six Potential New Year's Resolutions for the U.S.-Japanese Alliance

    How might the United States and Japan prepare for possible conflict with China over Taiwan, and ensure forces are postured to operate together? The alliance could benefit from greater clarity, and practical conversations could make a better and stronger alliance in the new year.

    Jan 5, 2022

  • The launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile during a test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, February 5, 2020, photo by SrA Clayton Wear/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Weighing the Cost and Necessity of Nuclear Modernization

    The United States has fielded a Triad of air-, sea-, and land-based nuclear delivery systems since the 1950s. Major components are nearing the end of their service lives, raising the question of whether to extend or replace them. Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to modernize, diversify, and expand their nuclear arsenals.

    Jan 3, 2022

  • Blog

    The Most Popular RAND Research of 2021

    As another extraordinary year draws to a close, we continue to believe that objective, nonpartisan research and analysis has a key role to play in navigating what continues to be a difficult time. Here are the 10 research projects that resonated most with rand.org readers in 2021.

    Dec 22, 2021

  • Blog

    RAND Commentary Highlights of 2021

    Vaccine rollouts, an attack on the U.S. Capitol, massive ransomware attacks, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, record numbers of job openings and people quitting, and more. RAND researchers weighed in on all these topics and more.

    Dec 21, 2021

  • U.S. President Joe Biden participates virtually in the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit at the White House in Washington, D.C., October 26, 2021, photo by Gripas Yuri/ABACA via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    Biden's Southeast Asia Policy Still Has Much to Prove

    As the Biden administration's first year comes to a close, how is the United States faring in Southeast Asia? Washington got a lot right, but it could do better to optimize competition against China and work on a more sensitive understanding of the delicate and at times precarious position Southeast Asian states are in.

    Dec 17, 2021

  • A new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile being launched in waters off the east coast of North Korea in a photo released by the North Korean Central News Agency on October 20, 2021, photo by KCNA via/Latin America News Agency via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    North Korea's Nuclear Arsenal and Prospects for Regional Peace

    Nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea have hovered at a standstill since 2019. With the door to diplomacy seemingly closed and North Korea marching forward on weapons development and making threatening statements, what are the prospects for Pyongyang's denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula?

    Dec 16, 2021

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends his annual special televised question and answer session at Moscow's World Trade Centre, June 30, 2021, photo by Alexei Nikolsky/Reuters

    Commentary

    Deterring Putin in Eastern Europe

    After having gone years without a significant threat from Russia, NATO leaders and legislatures now may be recognizing that the security environment has changed and the more comfortable political status quo is gone. But if NATO were to decide to stand firmly together, conflict in Europe may be deterred and strategic stability restored.

    Dec 16, 2021

  • HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to Portsmouth after her maiden operational deployment in Portsmouth, United Kingdom, December 9, 2021, p

    Commentary

    Ready for Take-Off? The Next Generation of UK Maritime Air Power

    The recent deployment of a Carrier Strike Group represents a marked shift in the United Kingdom's ambitions and capabilities for power projection in both the maritime and air domains. The United Kingdom is hoping to work closely with NATO Allies to enhance the Alliance's collective ability to deploy maritime airpower as part of a flexible posture that can deter and respond to threats both close to home and far afield.

    Dec 10, 2021

  • Armoured vehicles are deployed to carry out a shore defense operation as part of the HanKuang military exercise in Taipei, Taiwan, September 16, 2021, photo by Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Reuters

    Commentary

    Preventing China from Taking Taiwan

    The single most challenging high-end threat to a key American national security interest today is probably a Chinese invasion attempt against Taiwan. The United States could try to make that scenario unthinkable for Beijing by ensuring that China cannot dominate the western Pacific region.

    Dec 9, 2021

  • Ukrainian Marines take part in multinational Sea Breeze 2021 military exercises involving more than 30 countries near Kherson, Ukraine, July 2, 2021, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Commentary

    If Russia Invaded Ukraine

    The United States and NATO worry that Russia may be planning an invasion of Ukraine. A renewed crisis could spur the United States and its NATO allies to go beyond, perhaps well beyond, their responses to Russia's 2014 assault.

    Dec 8, 2021

  • U.S. President Joe Biden, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, speaks virtually with Chinese leader Xi Jinping from the White House in Washington, D.C., November 15, 2021, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Avoiding a New Surge of Regime Change

    As competition with China in the developing world heats up, the United States need not repeat the sad legacy of the Cold War with a surge of new efforts at covert regime change and harassment. Instead, America could maximize the systemic advantages it has long enjoyed, meet reformist leaders and movements in the developing world on their own terms, and trust the long-term appeal of American norms and values.

    Dec 8, 2021

  • The Second Battalion of the 99th Brigade of the Republic of China Marine Corps at the Presidential Palace in Taipei, Taiwan, July 6, 2020, photo by Wang Yu Ching/ CC BY 2.0

    Commentary

    The Counterintuitive Sensibility of Taiwan's New Defense Strategy

    As the United States prepares to deter China from attacking Taiwan and defend it from an attack, are the Taiwanese themselves doing everything they can to defend their territory?

    Dec 6, 2021

  • U.S. President Joe Biden speaks virtually with Chinese leader Xi Jinping from the White House, November 15, 2021, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Report

    A Guide to Extreme Competition with China

    The U.S.-China competitive dynamic is at a critical crossroads. What realistic, actionable policy options should U.S. policymakers consider in developing effective strategies for this competition?

    Dec 1, 2021

  • Army personnel from the U.S. and China participate in expert academic dialogue during the U.S.-China Disaster Management Exchange, in Kunming, China, November 2016, photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Behlin/U.S. Army

    Report

    Stabilizing Great-Power Rivalries

    The international system is headed for a renewed era of intense competition among major powers. And there are serious grounds for concern about U.S. rivalries with Russia and China. To ensure stability—and avoid war—the policy response should be nuanced and go beyond bolstering military capabilities.

    Nov 29, 2021