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.

  • Commentary

    Help Ukraine Win—or Risk Kicking Off a U.S. Losing Streak

    Continued assistance to Ukraine is critical if the United States is to retain its position as the world's indispensable nation and the many benefits Americans enjoy as a result. Failing to support Ukraine now might kick off an American losing streak that could take decades to overcome.

    Mar 18, 2024

  • Article

    The U.S.–China Rivalry in a New Medieval Age

    Trends like weakening governments and fragmenting societies suggest that the era of industrial superpowers is over and we've entered a new medieval age. The U.S.-China rivalry may have more in common with the fitful conflicts of the 14th century than with the cataclysmic world wars of the 20th.

    Mar 19, 2024

Explore Military Strategy

  • M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks of the 3rd Armored Division move out on a mission during Operation Desert Storm, February 15, 1991, photo by PHC D. W. HOLMES II/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Assemble the Bodyguard of Lies: Strengthening U.S. Military Deception Capabilities

    Few aspects of warfare are as valuable as efforts to deceive adversaries. The U.S. military inevitably will face rivals who use deception to their advantage, so it should once again hone its own subterfuge skills—from the lowest levels, to gain a tactical edge, to the highest, to achieve strategic surprise.

    Apr 11, 2024

  • Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks to the media after the release of the Defence Strategic Review in Canberra, Australia, April 24, 2023, photo by Lukas Coch/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Will Australia's Approach to Net Assessment Be?

    Australia's 2023 Defence Strategic Review is very clear: Australia must change the way it plans for and acquires defense capabilities. Doing so will require a net assessment to examine the various factors that may contribute to or detract from the country's military capabilities.

    Apr 11, 2024

  • NATO military personnel test an unmanned surface vehicle during exercise Baltic Operations 2023 in the Baltic Sea, June 23, 2023, photo by Jan Eenling/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    What Chinese Navy Planners Are Learning from Ukraine's Use of Unmanned Surface Vessels

    The continued success of Ukrainian unmanned surface vessel (USV) attacks on Russian naval facilities and warships has kept USVs in the defense analytical spotlight and naval analysts around the world, particularly those in China, are taking note.

    Apr 4, 2024

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (r), with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson during the NATO ratification ceremony as Sweden formally joins NATO at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., March 7, 2024, photo by Chuck Kennedy/ABACA via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    What Sweden's Accession Means for NATO

    Russia's failed invasion of Ukraine pushed neutral Sweden to embrace a role in NATO's collective defence and security. With this addition, NATO's toolkit gains Sweden's ground and air combat, nearshore and undersea warfare capabilities, as well as the country's expertise in niche areas such as cold weather operations.

    Mar 22, 2024

  • The destroyer USS Chung-Hoon observes the Chinese navy destroyer Luyang III executing unsafe maneuvers as the U.S. ship was conducting a routine Taiwan Strait transit, June 3, 2023, photo by Andre T. Richard/U.S. Navy

    Testimony

    Countering China’s Military Strategy in the Indo-Pacific Region

    How can the U.S. military present combat-credible capabilities, forces, and posture that sow doubt in the minds of China's leaders about their ability to prevail in a conflict with the United States?

    Mar 21, 2024

  • Still from a video published by the Ukrainian Armed Forces showing a Ukrainian soldier using a British-supplied Next-Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW) to destroy a Russian armored vehicle in an unspecified location in Ukraine, April 11, 2022, photo by Armed Forces of Ukraine/Aerorozv via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    Pace Through Integration? UK Defence Attempts Procurement Reform, Again

    The Ukraine war has exposed a challenge: how can allies gear their defence industries up to deliver materiel to Ukraine while remaining fit for purpose at home? By introducing a new integrated procurement model, the UK Ministry of Defence aims to consciously integrate lessons learned from past programmes—successful and otherwise.

    Mar 20, 2024

  • The Kerch bridge on fire after an explosion on the rail section of the bridge, between Crimea and mainland Russia, October 8, 2022, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    Bolstering Ukraine's Irregular War Against Russia

    As Ukrainian forces assume a more defensive posture, Kyiv's irregular warfare behind enemy lines becomes even more important. Ukrainian irregulars are already active, even striking distant targets in Russia. With Western support and technology, these silent warriors could become even more potent.

    Mar 18, 2024

  • David Ochmanek at the West Coast Aerospace Forum, December 2019, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND

    Q&A

    A New Approach for the U.S. Armed Forces: Q&A with David Ochmanek

    The United States and its allies have a window of opportunity to bolster their security and prepare for the global challenges to come. But it's closing fast as China and other adversaries build up their own militaries. Business as usual is no longer sufficient.

    Mar 13, 2024

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) meets with Czech Republic President Petr Pavel at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 19, 2023, photo courtesy of NATO

    Commentary

    As Europe's Peace Unravels, Czech Republic Ties Its Defence More Tightly to NATO

    The Czech Republic's new defence strategy emphasises its commitment to its allies and Ukraine at a time when NATO's cohesion is being challenged by both domestic and external factors.

    Mar 11, 2024

  • The flags of NATO, Finland, and Sweden, photo by Evgenia/Adobe Stock

    Commentary

    How Finland and Sweden Bolster NATO

    In response to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden have joined NATO. These two small Nordic countries have outsized strategic and military benefits for the alliance.

    Mar 7, 2024

  • 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 the 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. 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.

    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

  • Chinese Navy personnel wait to attend a welcoming ceremony for South Korea's guided missile frigate ROKS Gyeonggi at Qingdao Port for the 70th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Chinese PLA Navy, in Qingdao, China, April 21, 2019, photo by Jason Lee/Reuters

    Commentary

    U.S. Military Theories of Victory for a Potential War with China

    In the case of a hypothetical U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan, how might the United States prevail while also avoiding catastrophic escalation of the war?

    Feb 21, 2024

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

    Commentary

    Directed Energy Dilemmas

    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