Military Strategy


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.

  • Report

    How China Understands and Assesses Military Balance

    China sees itself as the weaker side in the overall military balance with the United States, largely because it has made only limited progress in the key areas that will define future warfare. Those include informatization and system-of-systems–based operations.

    Mar 1, 2023

  • Commentary

    America's Dangerous Short War Fixation

    Americans have long been fixated on the idea of the short, decisive war. And the United States' adversaries bank on Washington's strategic impatience. If the United States' objective is to win, the only thing worse than fighting a long war may be thinking it's possible to avoid one.

    Mar 31, 2023

Explore Military Strategy

  • Report


    Designing A Strange Game: A Nuclear Wargame for the 21st Century

    This report details the theoretical motivation and design of a wargame meant to address the lack of serious games that consider nuclear weapon employment and tools available to teach stakeholders about the challenges of nuclear weapon employment.

    Nov 28, 2023

  • A simulated tactical nuclear attack drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea. Photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and obtained by Reuters on September 3, 2023, photo by KCNA/Reuters


    Deterrence of North Korean Limited Nuclear Attacks

    No single action is likely to deter North Korean nuclear weapon use. But a combination of efforts may convince Kim Jong-un that any use of nuclear weapons for coercion would be very dangerous to his future, and could be a powerful approach to deterring North Korea.

    Nov 27, 2023

  • Report


    Revisiting RAND's Russia Wargames After the Invasion of Ukraine: Summary and Implications

    This report summarizes reexamined RAND tabletop exercises involving Russia from the past eight years in a review of wargaming methods and analysis and presents implications for future potential conflicts involving major powers.

    Nov 21, 2023

  • A U.S. Army Soldier assigned to 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division operates a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).


    Logic Model for Non-Lethal Weapons in the U.S. Department of Defense

    This logic model is intended to help characterize the impact of Non-Lethal Weapons (NLWs) within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and is based on a RAND project that assessed the impact of diverse Intermediate Force Capabilities (IFCs).

    Nov 20, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap


    'Israel's 9/11,' Promoting the 988 Hotline, the Future of Space: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on why the Oct. 7 attack wasn't Israel's 9/11, humanity's future approach to space, the pressing need to ensure more people know about the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, and more.

    Nov 17, 2023

  • Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari shows what the Israeli military says is a tunnel at a location given as Gaza, in this still image taken from video released November 13, 2023, photo by Israel Defense Forces/Handout via Reuters


    The West's Incoherent Critique of Israel's Gaza Strategy

    The battlefield geography of Gaza means that any operation there would turn into a bloody, highly destructive ground operation, with a lot of civilians caught in the crossfire. While Israel can mitigate some of these effects, neither Israel nor any other military can prevent them entirely. In this war, there is no happy medium.

    Nov 16, 2023

  • A loitering munition UAV on display as Taiwan's Defence Ministry showcases its domestically developed drones to the media in Taichung, Taiwan, March 14, 2023, photo by Ann Wang/Reuters


    Chinese Strategists Evaluate the Use of 'Kamikaze' Drones in the Russia-Ukraine War

    Both Russia and Ukraine have used loitering munitions successfully in the current war, and China is watching closely. Chinese strategists are likely already considering how to refine offensive tactics and improve defensive countermeasures in the context of a Taiwan scenario.

    Nov 7, 2023

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 11, 2023, photo by Johanna Geron/Reuters


    NATO Needs a Plan for Military and Nonmilitary Instruments of Power to Work Together

    To adapt to changes in warfighting, NATO is developing a multi-domain operations warfighting concept. But for this concept to be successful, it must include a plan to manage military operations' increasing reliance on and interaction with nonmilitary instruments of power.

    Nov 6, 2023

  • U.S. service members participate with allies and partners from multiple nations in exercises throughout West Virginia, May and June 2023, photo by Staff Sgt. Jake SeaWolf/U.S. National Guard


    Winning the Irregular World War

    If the United States hopes to prevail in an asymmetrical world war, it must upgrade its abilities to provide self-defense and resistance support to its allies and partners, and better coordinate its disparate efforts to counter Russia and China across departments and agencies.

    Nov 6, 2023

  • A Marine amphibious assault crewman with 3rd Marine Regiment communicates with other AAVs after landing ashore at the Naval Education Training Center in Zambales, Philippines, April 21, 2015, photo by Cpl. Matthew J. Bragg/U.S. Marine Corps


    Inflection Point: How to Reverse the Erosion of U.S. and Allied Military Power and Influence

    U.S. military forces no longer enjoy the kind of comprehensive superiority that was the foundation of victories over adversary states. Re-establishing a credible posture against aggression by highly capable adversaries will call for sustained, coordinated efforts by the United States, its allies, and its key partners to rethink their approaches to defeating aggression and to recast important elements of their military forces and postures.

    Nov 3, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap


    Disinformation Amid the Israel-Hamas War, U.S. Gun Policy, Cannabis: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how the information war may play out between Israel and Hamas, what the evidence says (and doesn't say) about U.S. gun policy, supply models for recreational cannabis, and more.

    Nov 3, 2023

  • News Release

    News Release

    U.S. Armed Forces Capabilities in Arctic Region Pose National Security Risks, Need Strengthening

    The United States needs to strengthen its ability to protect its Arctic interests as the region becomes a more active security environment. Key areas for improvement include communications, infrastructure, training, equipment, tactics and the ability to scale presence.

    Nov 1, 2023

  • U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Willow drifts by an iceberg, August 23, 2011, photo by PO3 Luke Clayton/U.S. Coast Guard


    Arctic Capabilities of the U.S. Armed Forces

    The United States has considerable interests in the Arctic and is one of just eight countries with territory in the region. How do U.S. armed forces' capabilities differ from those of other countries operating there, including Russia, China, and allies?

    Nov 1, 2023

  • Still from a video posted by the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation claiming to show the Black Sea Fleet's Admiral Essen frigate engaging a TB2 Bayraktar drone over the Black Sea, near the west coast of the Crimean peninsula, April 12, 2022, photo by Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Reuters


    The Black Sea and the Changing Face of Naval Warfare

    Uncrewed surface vessel and uncrewed underwater vessel technologies will continue to mature and be employed for an ever-wider range of missions. Today's struggles in the Black Sea may herald a changing face of naval warfare, in which large warships are increasingly vulnerable even to nations that lack substantial navies.

    Oct 31, 2023

  • Two Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15s fly alongside a U.S. Air Force KC-135 from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, Kadena Air Base, during air refueling training July 30, 2009, photo ny Tech. Sgt. Angelique Perez/U.S. Air Force


    Japan's Play for Today: Too Much? Just Right? Or Never Enough?

    Japan is pushing ahead on a broad array of initiatives meant to strengthen the Self-Defense Forces' deterrent power across multiple domains. But there are bound to be limits in manpower, resources, capacity, or capabilities that will place limits on what the end point of Japan's buildup ultimately looks like.

    Oct 31, 2023

  • American and Chinese flags with a digital overlay, images by Anson_iStock and Norcoon/Getty Images


    U.S.-China Competition for Digital Infrastructure

    Digital infrastructure (DI) appears significant for future military operations and long-term strategic competition. How might global DI evolve by 2050? And what could the military implications be for the United States and China?

    Oct 30, 2023

  • A U.S. Marine loads a non-lethal mortar round

    Journal Article

    How to Assess the Impact of Non-Lethal Weapons

    A RAND team used a structure called a "logic model" to assess the tactical, operational, and strategic impact of non-lethal weapons. This article characterizes what these systems and operations are intended to achieve and how they do so.

    Oct 30, 2023

  • The South Korean and American flags fly next to each other in Yongin, South Korea, August 23, 2016, photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar/U.S. Army


    South Korea Needs Greater Nuclear Assurance

    With growing nuclear threats from North Korea and China, there has been considerable interest in South Korea in developing its own nuclear weapons. But doing so could become a major disaster. The United States should bring greater strategic clarity to its nuclear umbrella commitment to South Korea.

    Oct 29, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap


    Israel-Hamas War, AI and Gene Editing, Social Media Regulation: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the Israel-Hamas war, the convergence of machine learning and gene editing, regulating social media while protecting free speech, and more.

    Oct 27, 2023

  • Map of East Asia with China filled with the flag of China and Taiwan filled with the blue background and white sun from the flag of Taiwan, image by Olga Dubrovina/Getty Images


    Lessons from the Chinese Conquest of Taiwan

    As Chinese political and military leaders envision conquering Taiwan, their predecessors' earlier seizure of the island is likely to inform their thoughts. Deriving lessons from the prior conquest of Taiwan can contribute to anticipation of possible threats and effective responses to them.

    Oct 26, 2023