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.

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  • Smoke rises after Israeli strikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, December 10, 2023, photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

    Commentary

    MIA: An Alternate Strategy for Gaza

    The international community cannot dictate a solution to Israel-Hamas war by fiat. If the international community wants Israel to change strategies in Gaza, then it should offer a viable alternative strategy to Israel's announced goal of destroying Hamas in the strip. And right now, that alternate strategy simply does not exist.

    Mar 3, 2024

  • Stereograph image of the Battle of Gettysburg - Engagement in the Peach Orchard, public domain image courtesy of U.S. Library of Congress

    Commentary

    Using Alternative History to Think Through Current and Future Problems

    We can use history to help us understand what happened (and why) as a starting point for considering what might have occurred if things had turned out differently. Known as counterfactual historical analysis or alternative history, this approach allows us to contemplate things not merely as they are, but how they might have been different with a tweak here and there in the timeline.

    Mar 1, 2024

  • An aircraft takes off to join the U.S.-led coalition to conduct air strikes against military targets in Yemen, aimed at the Iran-backed Houthi militia that has been targeting international shipping in the Red Sea, from an undisclosed location, in this handout picture released on January 12, 2024, photo by U.S. Central Command via X/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    Yes to Striking Iranian-Backed Militants

    Strikes against state-backed militias like the Houthis degrade these groups' military capabilities. But such strikes will almost certainly not deter the group from launching additional attacks. They could, however, take key capabilities and leaders off the battlefield, challenging Iran and the militias it backs to field the same quantity and quality of attacks in the future.

    Feb 26, 2024

  • A retired military tank on the beach with China in the background in Kinmen, Taiwan, December 20, 2023, photo by Ann Wang/Reuters

    Commentary

    Scared Strait

    The foundations of the longstanding U.S. approach to Taiwan-China relations are crumbling in the face of growing Chinese military power and aggression. Washington can no longer rely on its existing policies in the hopes that what worked in the past will succeed in the future.

    Feb 22, 2024

  • A collage showing a Soviet nuclear ballistic missile in Red Square, Moscow; a Soviet ship using a water cannon against a Chinese fisherman on the Ussuri River, May 6, 1969; and a U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat aircraft launching from the flight deck of the USS Independence, March 10, 1996, photos by CIA, China Photo Service/Dutch National Archives, and U.S. Navy

    Report

    Managing Escalation Between Nuclear-Armed Powers

    The return of great-power competition and the war in Ukraine have highlighted the stark risks of conflict with nuclear-armed rivals. What lessons can be learned from historical cases that could help identify adversary thresholds and manage escalation during a potential crisis?

    Feb 22, 2024

  • DragonFire laser directed energy weapon, photo courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence/Open Government Licence

    Commentary

    Directed Energy Dilemmas: Industrial Implications of a Military-Technological Revolution

    Alongside more traditional gun- and missile-based interceptors, directed energy weapons (DEW) are part of a layered approach to integrated air and missile defence. But with wide-ranging and disruptive implications for defence budgets and for industry that have only just begun to be considered, could the military impact of this possible DEW revolution be just the tip of the iceberg?

    Feb 20, 2024

  • Israeli soldiers in front of a damaged building in the Gaza Strip, February 8, 2024, photo by Dylan Martinez/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is Israel Losing Sight of Its Long Game?

    If Israel is to succeed in its war against Hamas, then it needs to embrace the fact that it is responsible for Gaza’s more than two million civilians and ensure their welfare.

    Feb 16, 2024

  • Presidential candidate Alexander Stubb attends his election reception in Helsinki, Finland, February 11, 2024, photo by Lehtikuva/Emmi Korhonen via Reuters

    Commentary

    How Finland Approaches Its New NATO Role Is a Key Decision for the New President

    Finland's presidential election is complete, and Alexander Stubb is the winner. As the president holds executive power to set foreign and security policy, as well as commanding the military, NATO countries are watching closely to see which course their newfound ally will chart.

    Feb 14, 2024

  • NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 4. 2023, photo by IMAGO/Thomas Trutschel/Reuters

    Commentary

    Four NATO Defense Priorities for the Upcoming Washington Summit

    The upcoming NATO summit in Washington, D.C., offers an opportunity for the alliance to prioritize new and transformational capabilities. With them, NATO can continue to provide deterrence and defense for its member state populations into the future, just as it has done for the past 75 years.

    Feb 8, 2024

  • Report

    Report

    Allied by Design: Defining a Path to Thoughtful Allied Space Power

    In this report, the authors evaluate the U.S. Department of Defense space enterprise and the interest, potential, and perspectives of six allies to recommend opportunities for a more effective approach to allied space power.

    Jan 30, 2024

  • Planet Earth with U.S. and allies' flags around it, design by Rick Penn-Kraus/RAND from photos by Getty Images

    Research Brief

    Charting a Path to Thoughtful Allied Space Power

    U.S. policy statements stress that close cooperation with allies is central to U.S. strategy, especially in space. But allies have grown increasingly vocal about a gap between what the United States says and what it does to make tangible progress toward allied space cooperation. How can that be improved?

    Jan 30, 2024

  • DragonFire laser directed energy weapon fires during a trial of the weapon by the UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) at the MOD's Hebrides Range, January, 2024 , photo by UK Ministry of Defence/Open Government Licence

    Commentary

    Directed Energy: The Focus on Laser Weapons Intensifies

    Directed energy weapons offer a more cost-efficient means of dealing with fast-proliferating threats. If the technology can be matured, such systems could tip both the military and economic calculus of modern warfare in their users' favor.

    Jan 25, 2024

  • Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden as he arrives in Tel Aviv, October 18, 2023, photo Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

    Commentary

    Netanyahu Is Far From Alone in Resisting a Two-State Solution

    Opposition to a Palestinian state stretches well beyond the office of Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu. Can American pressure change this?

    Jan 22, 2024

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his daughter inspect an intercontinental ballistic missile in North Korea in this undated photo released on November 19, 2022 photo by KCNA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Responding to North Korean 2024 War Threats

    Unless Kim Jong-un concludes that South Korea and the United States are finally serious about reining in his provocations, threats, and nuclear weapon development, Kim might eventually establish a form of dominance on the Korean Peninsula or push the Korean Peninsula into a nuclear war that no one wants.

    Jan 18, 2024

  • The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney defeats Houthi missiles and UAVs in the Red Sea, October 19, 2023, photo by PO2 Aaron La/U.S. Navy via Reuters

    Commentary

    Getting 'Left-of-Launch' in the Counter-Drone Fight

    The democratization of drone technology means that adversaries are now able to conduct attacks with near impunity. The Houthis' recent drone attacks in the Red Sea show that America's current approach to countering them is not working. A holistic, offensive strategy is needed.

    Jan 17, 2024

  • An Israeli soldier crouches near a column of military vehicles moving out of the Gaza Strip, January 15, 2024, photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters

    Commentary

    Israel's 'People's Army' at War

    The IDF's relationship with Israeli society, cultural predilections, and individual norms make it a very different kind of military—informing how it fights in Gaza.

    Jan 16, 2024

  • A multinational group of mine countermeasure ships operate in formation during exercise Artemis Trident 21 in the Arabian Gulf, April 21, 2021, photo by Spc. Theoren Neal/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Naval Mine Warfare: Back to the Future

    Mines can help to negate the superior power of enemy fleets not only by damaging their ships, but by inducing them to avoid key waters or engage in mine-countermeasure efforts that delay and disrupt their plans. And employing a few old-style mines can be a useful complement to modern capabilities.

    Jan 11, 2024

  • Report

    Report

    Understanding the Limits of Artificial Intelligence for Warfighters: Volume 4, Wargames

    Rapid progress in artificial intelligence (AI) for game-playing has inspired intense interest in the possible benefits of the technology for wargames. This report presents an assessment of the limits to applying AI technologies to wargaming.

    Jan 3, 2024