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.

  • Silhouette of soldiers with military vehicles, photo by veneratio/Adobe Stock

    Report

    What Makes U.S. Military Interventions Successful?

    Apr 1, 2019

    An analysis of 145 U.S. military interventions identifies the factors that have made them more or less successful at achieving their political objectives. They were successful 63 percent of the time, but levels of success have declined over time as the United States has pursued more ambitious goals. Before intervening, planners should carefully match strategy with political objectives.

  • A world map with digital infographics

    Report

    What Deters and Why

    Nov 20, 2018

    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.

Explore Military Strategy

  • Military delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after a meeting ahead of National People's Congress in Beijing, China, March 4, 2019, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'Unrivaled' by Michael Beckley

    In Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World's Sole Superpower Michael Beckley argues not only that U.S. preeminence is safer than most contemporary commentary would have one believe, but also that it is more resilient.

    Apr 18, 2019

  • Report

    Targeted Interoperability: A New Imperative for Multinational Operations

    This report looks at what motivations exist for interoperability and defines a reasonable framework from which to work if and when interoperability needs and investments meet strategic language in the United States.

    Mar 25, 2019

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army Navy patrol at Fiery Cross Reef, in the Spratly Islands, February 9, 2016, photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

    Commentary

    Time to Speak Up About the South China Sea

    Some leaders in Southeast Asia may fear that new or enhanced postures in the South China Sea could antagonize China. But directly calling out China's breaks from the status quo or intimidation tactics may not necessarily put these countries at risk of Chinese countermeasures.

    Mar 20, 2019

  • Christine Wormuth and Kimberly Kagan at the 2018 Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security

    Report

    Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security

    In October 2018, RAND hosted a forum on national security that honored the legacy of Roberta Wohlstetter, a military analyst who worked at RAND from its creation in 1948 until 1965. Panelists discussed events, capabilities, technologies, and methodologies that demand new concepts for national security and defense.

    Mar 19, 2019

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends wreath laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam March 2, 2019, photo by Jorge Silva/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    After the Hanoi Summit

    The best-case scenario for future U.S.-North Korea relations is that President Trump and Kim Jong-un remain committed to diplomacy. In the worst case, both countries' frustrations could spiral out of control.

    Mar 13, 2019

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un bids farewell before boarding his train to depart for North Korea at Dong Dang railway station in Vietnam, March 2, 2019, photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

    Commentary

    Where Do U.S.-North Korea Relations Go in the Aftermath of the Hanoi Summit?

    If Kim Jong-un is sincere about denuclearization, it is time for him to match his words with actions. If North Korea's nuclearization continues, the U.S. government may eventually face some pressure to take military action to stop it.

    Mar 13, 2019

  • North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and Vietnam's President Nguyen Phu Trong review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 1, 2019, photo by Luong Thai Linh/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Hidden Components of the North Korean Military Challenge

    In an era of global competition in which U.S. military resources are stretched thin, the United States should consider looking for opportunities to scale back potential overcommitment. The current inter-Korean dialogue presents such an opportunity.

    Mar 12, 2019

  • U.S. Army and Chinese PLA military personnel attend a disaster management exchange near Nanjing, China, November 17, 2018, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Commentary

    Managing U.S. Military-to-Military Relations with China, a Strategic Competitor in an Era of Renewed Great Power Competition

    The United States National Security Strategy describes a return of great power rivalry with China as the leading challenger, and the National Defense Strategy prioritizes strategic competition. What are the implications for U.S.-China military-to-military relations?

    Mar 8, 2019

  • President Ronald Reagan presents Roberta Wohlstetter with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House, November 7, 1985

    Blog

    Roberta Wohlstetter: A Military Analyst Ahead of Her Time

    RAND researcher Roberta Wohlstetter is known for her theory about why the attack on Pearl Harbor took the United States by surprise. Her book was later used as a lens for analyzing the Cuban Missile Crisis and the 2001 terrorist attacks.

    Mar 7, 2019

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands before their one-on-one chat during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 27, 2019, photo by Leah Millis/Reuters

    Commentary

    Declaring an End to the Korean War

    President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might agree at their summit this week in Hanoi, Vietnam, to declare an end to the Korean War. Since this conflict stopped 66 years ago, what would be the practical impact of such declaration?

    Feb 28, 2019

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2019, photo by Andreas Gebert/Reuters

    Commentary

    Behind the 'Surprise' Resignation of Iran's Foreign Minister

    Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, announced his resignation after a nearly six-year tenure. His resignation has sparked as much controversy as his tenure, one dominated by overtures to the West and resulting tensions at home. Although his departure will likely be felt most acutely in Europe, it may have a deeper impact in Tehran.

    Feb 26, 2019

  • President Donald Trump walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore, June 12, 2018, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Engagement with North Korea: Small Steps May Matter More Than Big Ones

    Kim Jong-Un has said he wants North Korea to become a normal country. Agreeing to a series of short-term measures could reveal his truthfulness as much as large measures could. This could also pave the way to eventually achieving the larger goals.

    Feb 21, 2019

  • World map with chess pieces with flags of Russia, China, and the United States, photo by theasis/Getty Images

    Commentary

    The Need to Think More Clearly About 'Great-Power Competition'

    Today's world order is increasingly defined by competition between the United States and a host of major powers, especially China and Russia. Who is America's principal competitor and over what is it competing? What is America’s ultimate objective? And how will it prepare its economy and its society for infinite competition of an indefinite nature?

    Feb 11, 2019

  • Man in a field looking at the horizon, photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How Horizon Scanning Can Give the Military a Technological Edge

    Horizon scanning could promote innovative practices and innovation uptake, through the adoption of new ideas, equipment, and methods, with benefits that could positively affect the UK economy as a whole. But a wider mechanism for processing and assessing the selected developments would be needed.

    Feb 8, 2019

  • Chinese ICBM missile with China flag graphic overlay, photo by Allexxandar/Getty Images

    Journal Article

    Of Bombs and Bureaucrats: Internal Drivers of Nuclear Force Building in China and the United States

    This article examines the domestic influences on US and Chinese nuclear forces. While strategic factors largely drive each side's, underappreciated domestic and organizational factors also influence outcomes.

    Feb 8, 2019

  • Report

    Conceptual Design for a Multiplayer Security Force Assistance Strategy Game

    The authors explain the conceptual underpinnings and basic rules for a RAND-designed security force assistance strategy game. The game is a tool to explore the potential benefits and risks of different security force assistance strategies.

    Feb 7, 2019

  • President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un walk together before their working lunch during their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Hard to Predict Outcome of Second Trump-Kim Summit

    It's difficult to predict the outcome of the second summit between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump. At the first, Kim offered to fully denuclearize during President Trump's first term. But he continued building nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. If Kim keeps stalling, serious tensions could follow.

    Feb 6, 2019

  • Binoculars on a map, photo by Angel_a/Getty Images

    Report

    The U.S. Department of Defense's Planning Process: Components and Challenges

    This report explores the current defense planning process used by the U.S. Department of Defense, with a focus on how scenarios are developed and employed to support defense planning.

    Feb 4, 2019

  • Sylvie Lanteaume, Cortney Weinbaum, Elsa B. Kania, and Stacie Pettyjohn discuss "Technology as a Battlefield Game Changer” at the 2018 Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security.

    Multimedia

    The Role of Multi-Domain Operations

    As part of a panel on “Technology as a Battlefield Game Changer” at the 2018 Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security, Stacie Pettyjohn explains the concept of multi-domain operations as a way to penetrate Chinese and Russian anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) networks and to deter or defeat aggression.

    Jan 1, 2019