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.

  • Report

    How China Understands and Assesses Military Balance

    China sees itself as the weaker side in the overall military balance with the United States, largely because it has made only limited progress in the key areas that will define future warfare. Those include informatization and system-of-systems–based operations.

    Mar 1, 2023

  • Commentary

    America's Dangerous Short War Fixation

    Americans have long been fixated on the idea of the short, decisive war. And the United States' adversaries bank on Washington's strategic impatience. If the United States' objective is to win, the only thing worse than fighting a long war may be thinking it's possible to avoid one.

    Mar 31, 2023

Explore Military Strategy

  • 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

  • (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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • UH-1Y Venoms from USS Essex lands on HMS Queen Elizabeth, photo by LPhot Unaisi Luke/UK MOD OGL (Open Government License).

    Commentary

    Realising the promise of the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy in R&D and exports

    This Perspective provides a brief overview of the core principles of the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS), before reflecting on two aspects underpinning the Strategy's assumptions: research and development (R&D) and exports.

    Nov 28, 2022

  • Quantum computer, Photo by Bartek Wroblewski/Adobe Stock

    Commentary

    Science and technology as a tool of power: An appraisal

    This Perspective examines the UK Government's ambition to use science and technology (S&T) as a tool of power and an integral part of the national security strategy. It also reflects on critical enablers, including conceptual and practical levers.

    Nov 28, 2022

  • Senior Airman Allyssa Helma prepares to marshal an F-15C Eagle onto the flightline for Red Flag-Alaska at Kadena Air Base, Japan, April 15, 2022, photo by Airman 1st Class Sebastian Romawac/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    As F-15s Leave Okinawa, an Opportunity to Change Indo-Pacific Air Tactics with Unmanned Options

    As it considers its future force mix and posture in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere, the U.S. Air Force has options that go beyond traditional platforms. Among them are rapidly maturing concepts for generating and sustaining high-tempo operations in forward areas with autonomous, runway-independent air vehicles.

    Nov 28, 2022

  • Ukrainian Army soldiers launch a drone near Bakhmut, Ukraine, November 25, 2022, photo by Leah Millis/Reuters

    Commentary

    Ukraine's Lessons for the Future of Hybrid Warfare

    A new decision-analysis approach is necessary to capture the use of disinformation in the context of hybrid warfare. Multiple tools must be integrated to help generate a robust policy response to modern hybrid threats.

    Nov 28, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Taiwan, Putin's Holy War, Mining the Moon: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on why China likely won't attack Taiwan anytime soon, Vladimir Putin's “holy war” in Ukraine, why it's time to make rules for space-mining, and more.

    Nov 25, 2022

  • A Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft, photo by Fedor Leukhin

    Report

    Russian Military Strategy: Organizing Operations for the Initial Period of War

    The authors of this report identify and examine several factors to assess the orientation of Russian military strategy, including the balance of power, Russian diplomacy with China, views on future war, and trends in force readiness and mobilization.

    Nov 22, 2022

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits Kherson, Ukraine, November 14, 2022, photo by Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

    Commentary

    What's the Harm in Talking to Russia? A Lot, Actually

    Despite the way it is commonly portrayed, diplomacy is not intrinsically and always good, nor is it cost-free. In the Ukraine conflict, the problems with a push for diplomacy are especially apparent. The likely benefits of negotiations are minimal, and the prospective costs could be significant.

    Nov 22, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Dementia Rates, Deepfakes, Migrant Students: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the decline of dementia rates among Americans, the dangers of deepfakes, data privacy after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and more.

    Nov 18, 2022

  • U.S. Naval Forces and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces conduct a bilateral mine warfare exercise off the coast of southwestern Japan, January 28, 2021, U.S. Navy photo

    Commentary

    The Drifting Menace

    The drifting mine threat is not going away: they are simple, effective weapons that are easily made and deployed even by actors with limited naval capabilities. A holistic approach to tactics, enforcement, and technology development could help counter the threat and maintain future freedom of the seas.

    Nov 16, 2022

  • Taiwan Navy Marines conducted a scenario-based drill near Penghu, Taiwan, October 24, 2022, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    Xi Likely Won't Be Attacking Taiwan Anytime Soon

    Rather than start a war, Xi Jinping is more likely to intensify China's use of coercive measures against Taiwan, including diplomatic, economic, and military pressure coupled with cyber and psychological operations. If coercion fails, Beijing might turn to force as a last resort, but this still seems unlikely given the many complicating factors.

    Nov 15, 2022

  • A Seahawk medium displacement unmanned surface vessel participates in U.S. Pacific Fleet's Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem in the Pacific Ocean, April 21, 2021, photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon Renfroe/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    The Age of Uncrewed Surface Vessels

    A new age of naval warfare has been inaugurated in the Black Sea, defined by an emerging weapon. Uncrewed surface vessels could become a centerpiece of naval warfare in the coming decades, one that navies may ignore at their peril.

    Nov 15, 2022

  • Local residents look at parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle after a Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022, photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters

    Commentary

    'Wonder Weapons' Will Not Win Russia's War

    With its army increasingly in shambles, Russia has turned to attacking Ukraine's civilian infrastructure with Iranian-made drones in an effort to destroy Ukrainians' will to fight. These tactics will inflict pain on the Ukrainian population, but if history is any guide, they will not forestall a Russian defeat.

    Nov 10, 2022