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.

  • World map on abstract technology background

    Report

    New Challenges in Cross-Domain Deterrence

    Apr 12, 2018

    America's ability to deter aggression in the traditional air, land, and sea domains of warfare has been cast in doubt. And new requirements to deter future aggression in the domains of space and cyberspace have arisen. How can the United States and its allies meet these challenges?

  • Composite of Chinese flag and abstract globalization concept

    Report

    How China Seeks to Wage Modern Warfare

    Feb 1, 2018

    The People's Liberation Army's approach to training, organizing, and equipping for modern warfare over the past two decades has been influenced by systems thinking. It now characterizes modern warfare as a confrontation between opposing operational systems rather than merely opposing armies.

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  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Beijing, China, October 26, 2018

    Commentary

    Sino-Japan Rapprochement Will Likely Fail

    Recent meetings and otherwise relative calm between China and Japan may give the impression that their ties are improving. But because of their strategic competition and fundamental differences, it is more likely than not that their current rapprochement will fail.

    Dec 7, 2018

  • Members of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force 1st Airborne Brigade descend from a CH-47 helicopter during an annual new year military exercise at Narashino exercise field in Funabashi, east of Tokyo, Japan, January 12, 2018

    Commentary

    Is Japan's New Defense Plan Ambitious Enough?

    Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan has significantly increased capabilities to meet increasing regional security challenges. But Tokyo may need to do more to manage the complex security environment surrounding Japan.

    Dec 6, 2018

  • Japan's Self-Defense Forces F-15 fighter jets (top and bottom) conduct an exercise with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers above the East China Sea, Japan, September 9, 2017

    Report

    Standoff Over Senkaku Islands Carries Growing Risk of Miscalculation

    China has stepped up its vessel and air activities near the disputed Senkaku Islands. Japan has made posture changes and increased the quantity of aircraft and radar in the region, but it does not have the resources to match Chinese air activity. And since it's an issue of domestic air sovereignty, the U.S. is limited in what it can do to assist Japan.

    Dec 3, 2018

  • Report

    Comprehensive Analysis of Strategic Force Generation Challenges in the Australian Army

    This report reviews the modernisation efforts and force generation practices of four armed forces with global presence to derive lessons and practices to inform the Australian Army's own reorganisation policy.

    Dec 3, 2018

  • Report

    Planning an Army for the 21st Century: Principles to Guide U.S. Army Force Size, Mix, and Component Distribution

    In this Perspective, the authors seek to provide criteria for an effective and efficient Army for the 21st century and lay out principles to help guide leaders in making contemporary force-planning decisions.

    Dec 3, 2018

  • Senior military officials watch a parade at the main Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018

    Commentary

    How America Can Test North Korea's True Intentions

    While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has suggested he may be prepared to abandon his nuclear ambitions, there has been no proof that he is serious. The United States could take steps to discover Kim's true intentions.

    Nov 26, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leads the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon in this undated photo released on November 16, 2018

    Commentary

    Why North Korea Sanctions Relief Is Inappropriate at This Time

    In early 2018, Kim Jong Un signaled that he was ready to negotiate abandoning North Korea's nuclear weapons with the United States. But since then, Pyongyang hasn't taken steps to denuclearize. The DPRK's actions speak louder than its words.

    Nov 26, 2018

  • A PLAAF J-20 stealth fighter performs during the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, China, November 6, 2018

    Report

    How the U.S. Air Force Shapes China's Military Aerospace Goals

    Aerospace power has been a core feature of the People's Liberation Army's rapid modernization. The main driver for its development is the PLA's view that it needs to be prepared to deter and, if necessary, defeat the United States in a high-end clash.

    Nov 21, 2018

  • A world map with digital infographics

    Report

    What Deters and Why

    What must the United States do to deter potential aggressors from attacking allies or other countries in large-scale conventional conflicts? Managing an adversary's motives is the key first step.

    Nov 20, 2018

  • A Xian H-6K bomber landing at Zhuhai Jinwan airport ahead of Airshow China 2018

    Report

    The Strategy of China's Bomber Flights

    Since March 2015, China's PLAAF has conducted a series of long-range bomber flights in the Asia-Pacific region, including over the South China Sea, near Japan, and around Taiwan. What's driving these flights? And what are the implications for U.S. interests in the region?

    Nov 14, 2018

  • Multimedia

    Highlights from the Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security

    A forum on national security honors the legacy of Roberta Wohlstetter, a military analyst who worked at RAND from its creation in 1948 until 1965. Panelists discuss the events, capabilities, technologies, and methodologies that demand new concepts for national security and defense.

    Oct 24, 2018

  • Report

    Pacific Engagement: Forging Tighter Connections Between Tactical Security Cooperation Activities and U.S. Strategic Goals in the Asia-Pacific Region

    This report examines U.S. Army security cooperation (SC) processes in the Pacific Command area of responsibility to forge stronger links between strategic and tactical levels in the planning and execution of SC activities.

    Oct 23, 2018

  • Journal Article

    Defense Planning When Major Changes Are Needed

    The special efforts needed to make "big things happen" in defense planning.

    Oct 23, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walk at the Capella Hotel on the island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018

    Commentary

    North Korean Actions Speak Louder Than Its Words

    Kim Jong Un has regularly promised to denuclearize, but he's been all talk. And this year, North Korea has probably built five to nine more nuclear weapons. There are steps that could make a difference if taken before the North Korean nuclear weapon threat grows any further.

    Oct 11, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia September 12, 2018

    Commentary

    Are We Truly Prepared for a War with Russia or China?

    The U.S. Department of Defense will likely need a strategy to overcome a war with either Russia or China. As threats from Moscow and Beijing grow, what can the United States do now to prepare for major conflict?

    Oct 9, 2018

  • Landing ships putting cargo ashore on Omaha Beach, mid-June, 1944

    Report

    What Shapes a Nation's Will to Fight?

    When considering threats from Russia and North Korea, it is natural to focus on military capabilities. But incorporating will to fight into the analysis of actual or potential conflicts will enhance strategic planning. A model that can be tailored and applied to various conflict scenarios can help U.S. leaders better understand and influence will to fight.

    Sep 20, 2018

  • Ferrying South Vietnamese rangers, U.S. helicopters swoop in on a landing zone on the fringe of a pineapple plantation in the Mekong Delta on August 21, 1967

    Report

    Assessing Will to Fight at the Military Unit Level

    Will to fight is vital to understanding war, but it is often ignored or misunderstood. A model of unit will to fight that can be applied to ground combat units of any scale can help U.S. military leaders better assess partner and adversary forces and incorporate will to fight in their planning.

    Sep 20, 2018

  • Chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi makes a speech during a ceremony to receive locally-produced yellowcake, in Isfahan, Iran, December 5, 2010

    Commentary

    Can U.S. Pressure Lead to a New Iran Nuclear Deal?

    It could be a mistake for the United States to assume that more pressure will bring Iran closer to ending or reducing its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. When it comes to measures aimed at Iran's nuclear program, more pressure could worsen nuclear risks and further drive a wedge between the United States and its European allies.

    Sep 18, 2018

  • Detachment of Americans leave for the front, Le Havre, France, July 12, 1918

    Commentary

    How the U.S. Military Learned to Learn in World War I: Lessons from the American Expeditionary Forces

    The U.S. military generally believes it has little to learn from its allies. But during World War I, the more open the Americans were to their allies’ wisdom, the better they fought and the less they suffered.

    Aug 22, 2018

  • Report

    Restoring U.S. Power Projection Capabilities: Responding to the 2018 National Defense Strategy

    This Perspective can help to inform upcoming decisions to improve U.S. military abilities (which have been eroding vis-à-vis those of China and Russia) to deter aggression and intimidation, assure allies, and influence events in East Asia and Europe.

    Aug 16, 2018