Military Strategy

Featured

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.

Explore Military Strategy

  • Sailors on the USS Wasp observe as the Japanese destroyer JS Yuugiri moors alongside in Okinawa, Japan, April 23, 2018, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Japan's Strategic Shift: Significant, but Implementation Hurdles May Await

    Japan's new strategic documents appear to demonstrate a recognition in Tokyo that it must do more for its own defense in the face of unprecedented security challenges. The dedication of resources, pursuit of new capabilities, and overarching commitment to a more robust defense are all significant moves that represent landmark change by one of America's key allies.

    Jan 27, 2023

  • Soldiers of China's PLA take part in a joint multinational U.N. peacekeeping military exercise with troops from Pakistan, Mongolia, and Thailand, in Henan province, China, September 15, 2021, photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

    Testimony

    China's Overseas Military Diplomacy and Implications for U.S. Interests

    As the U.S.-China competition intensifies, military diplomacy is one of the tools that China could potentially use to gain advantage. What are some ways that China’s military diplomacy activities could challenge U.S. interests? And what are some recommendations for U.S. policymakers?

    Jan 26, 2023

  • U.S. Army soldiers conduct a convoy in support of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve near northeastern Syria, September 21, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Michael West/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Appreciating U.S. Ground Force Contributions to Operation Inherent Resolve

    Defeating ISIS hinged on a ground fight, requiring the grueling liberation of territory kilometer by kilometer. While Iraqi forces bore the brunt of frontline fighting, U.S. forces were also engaged in on-the-ground combat operations that hastened the defeat of ISIS. Appreciating such contributions will be necessary to distill the right lessons so that we might correctly apply them to future irregular warfare.

    Jan 25, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    First Mover Typology for the Space Domain: Building a Foundation for Future Analysis

    The authors offer a categorization and nuanced views of first moves in military strategy as a basis for understanding and further analysis of first mover advantage in the space domain.

    Jan 25, 2023

  • Soldiers release gasoline canisters on the Tamsui river simulating countering a Chinese invasion during asymmetric warfare drills in Taipei, Taiwan, July 19, 2022, photo by Ann Wang/Reuters

    Commentary

    'Strategic Ambiguity' May Have U.S. and Taiwan Trapped in a Prisoner's Dilemma

    For its proponents, the idea of strategic ambiguity seems to have become an end in itself that has not adapted, and logically cannot adapt to the disruptive growth in Beijing's military power. The conditions under which the policy worked seem to have evaporated with China's rise. Strategic clarity may offer a way out of this dilemma.

    Jan 18, 2023

  • Ukrainian artillerymen who destroyed columns of Russian equipment near Kyiv stand on defense of the Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine, December 16, 2022, photo by Dmytro Smoliyenko/Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    How the War in Ukraine Could End Sooner Than Expected

    There are predictions aplenty that Russia's war on Ukraine will persist. But it could also end soon. Kremlin regime change, a Russian army collapse, or a Ukrainian win are possible. None of these contingencies should be ruled out.

    Jan 17, 2023

  • A U.S. Air Force and a Republic of Korea air force F-35A Lighting II aircraft soar in a tight formation over Korea

    Research Brief

    Managing the Escalation Risks of U.S. Military Activities in the Indo-Pacific

    This brief describes how the United States can select and shape its military activities in the Indo-Pacific region to deter Chinese aggression against U.S. allies and partners while also limiting the risks of escalatory Chinese reactions.

    Jan 12, 2023

  • U.S. Navy vessels participate in an exercise with uncrewed surface vessels off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia, October 12, 2022, photo by Warren Duffie/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Could Taiwan Defend with Uncrewed Surface Vessels?

    Ukraine has demonstrated the ability of explosive uncrewed surface vessels to target ships. These weapons could play a role in preventing Chinese forces from successfully invading Taiwan in potential future scenarios.

    Jan 9, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    A Potential Russian Attack on NATO, China in the Arctic, Inflation: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how the West might respond in the case of a limited Russian attack on NATO, what China's Arctic ambitions mean to the United States, how inflation affects middle-class households, and more.

    Jan 6, 2023

  • Airmen load ammunition onto a C-17 Globemaster III bound for Ukraine during a security assistance mission at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, August 9, 2022, photo by Airman 1st Class Cydney Lee/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    Ukraine and the New Two War Construct

    The United States might look at its support of Ukraine as a potential model for future defense strategy. It would require a substantial expansion of the defense industrial base, but it might offer a plausible way to keep American objectives and resources in line without sacrificing too much in either.

    Jan 5, 2023

  • Kim Jong-un conducts a ground test of a high-thrust, solid-fuel engine at the Sohae Satellite Launch Station in Cholsan, North Korea, December 16, 2022, photo by KCNA/Pool/Latin America News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    Japanese 'Counterstrike' May Be Good for ROK Security

    Fully coordinated, the South Korean Kill Chain and Japanese counterstrike capability could be more effective in stopping North Korea from causing damage. And they could be more likely to deter Kim Jong-un, as Pyongyang recognizes that its efforts to militarily dominate the ROK are unlikely to succeed.

    Dec 28, 2022

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the summit of leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Astana, Kazakhstan October 14, 2022, photo by Turar Kazangapov/Reuters

    Report

    Responding to a Russian Attack on NATO During the Ukraine War

    The Ukraine war has created a unique set of circumstances that make a limited Russian attack against a NATO target plausible. If such an attack were to occur, how might the United States and NATO respond?

    Dec 20, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    New Directions for Projecting Land Power in the Indo-Pacific: Contexts, Constraints, and Concepts

    This report seeks to address how the U.S. Army can most effectively project and employ land power in the Indo-Pacific, during competition and conflict, with a focus on scenarios involving China.

    Dec 20, 2022

  • Soldiers from the Asymmetric Warfare Group move a 300-pound bag down a gravel road during a predeployment exercise at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, April 25, 2012, photo by Lt. Col. Sonise Lumbaca/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Mastering Irregular Warfare

    The U.S. military has failed to master irregular warfare above the tactical level. This is not a new problem, and it is one that has been recognized by leaders at the most senior echelons of government. There are several steps that the DoD and U.S. Congress might consider to develop the mastery of irregular warfare that the United States needs.

    Dec 14, 2022

  • (l-r) Moderator Jamie Morin and panelists Bruce McClintock, Debra Emmons, and Marin Halper at the West Coast Aerospace Forum in Santa Monica, California, December 2, 2022, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

    Blog

    Can the War in Ukraine Help the United States Address Security Concerns in the Indo-Pacific?

    Even as the Russian military continues to struggle in Ukraine, Air Force leaders and top national security experts at the 2022 West Coast Aerospace Forum warned not to expect similar outcomes in a potential conflict with China. The 7th annual event focused on applying lessons learned from Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the security challenges in the Indo-Pacific.

    Dec 14, 2022

  • F-2 Fighters from the 8th Air Wing of Japan Air Self-Defense Force hold a joint military drill with the United States off Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu, Japan, November 5, 2022, photo by Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan's Upcoming Defense Efforts

    The Japanese government looks set to release three important documents shortly: a new National Security Strategy and two defense documents that lay out spending priorities over the next ten years and five years. In preparation for the release of these documents, here are six areas that could be candidates not only to receive a greater prioritization of resources, but also greater scrutiny.

    Dec 13, 2022

  • Kim Jong -un and his daughter attend a photo session with the scientists, engineers, military officials and others involved in the test-fire of the country's new Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile in this undated photo released on November 27, 2022, photo by KCNA via Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korea's Version of 'Take Your Daughter to Work Day'

    With the spotlight having long been fixed on the nuclear issue, the public debut of Kim Jong-un's “most beloved” child seems as though it could be an impeccably timed distraction to keep the international community from focusing on seeking an enduring solution to Pyongyang's rapidly advancing weapons systems.

    Dec 12, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Protests in China, Negotiating with Russia, L.A.'s 'Mansion Tax': RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on protests in China amid the government's zero-COVID policy, the potential harm in negotiating with Russia, building more affordable housing in Los Angeles, and more.

    Dec 2, 2022

  • Three drones are set up at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, August 10, 2020, photo by Spc. Khalil Jenkins/U.S. Army

    Report

    A New Era of Major-Power Competition

    While there is a general consensus that the United States is now in a new era of strategic competition with China and Russia, there is not yet a clear understanding of what that means or what forms it could take. How can the United States best position itself to succeed?

    Nov 30, 2022

  • Military aircraft participate in an exercise near Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 9, 2021, photo by SrA Duncan Bevan/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Managing Escalation While Competing Effectively in the Indo-Pacific

    In response to China's expanding military activity in the Indo-Pacific, the United States has increased its activity in the region over the past decade. How can America continue to safeguard its interests while limiting potential risks of escalation with China?

    Nov 30, 2022