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.

  • Russian soldiers man a checkpoint near the Georgian village of Kekhvi in breakaway South Ossetia, August 21, 2008, photo by Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

    Report

    What Drives U.S. Adversaries to Use Military Forces Abroad?

    Sep 27, 2021

    Where, how, and how often have China, Russia, and Iran intervened militarily since 1946? A review of their behavior and that of other U.S. adversaries identifies why they initiated military interventions and why they might do so in the future.

  • 3D illustration of a conceptual maze. Shortcut between points A and B or finding the shortest path concept, photo by livier Le Moal/Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Report

    Leveraging Complexity in Great-Power Competition and Warfare: Volume I

    Aug 26, 2021

    The United States should aim to minimize the element of complexity for itself while maximizing it for its adversary in great-power competition and warfare. But what does complexity mean in an Air Force context? And how can it be used as a method of attack?

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  • Game pieces on stacks of varying height, photo by Tero Vesalainen/Getty Images

    Commentary

    This Is Not a Great-Power Competition

    The emerging conventional wisdom among foreign policy analysts in Washington is that a new era of great-power competition is upon us. But does that phrase really capture today's reality?

    May 29, 2019

  • Blog

    Journalism, U.S.–Iranian Tensions, School Reform: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how the news has changed in the digital age, rising U.S.–Iranian tensions, how educators feel about school improvement plans, and more.

    May 17, 2019

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) honor guards at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 28, 2019, photo by Parker Song/Reuters

    Commentary

    Getting to Know the Competition

    Americans are facing a new reality in global great power relations that will define the trajectory of U.S. foreign policy for the foreseeable future. Understanding China's threat perceptions, while remaining clear-eyed regarding differences in objectives, is essential to developing strategies to deter conflict.

    May 13, 2019

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq March 11, 2019, photo by Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters

    Commentary

    Can Anyone Save the Iran Nuclear Deal Now?

    Europe faces mounting pressure from both Tehran and Washington regarding the Iran nuclear deal. European countries could take steps to signal their commitment to upholding the deal, but doing so may alienate the United States.

    May 10, 2019

  • News Release

    News Release

    U.S. Military Gaps in Funding and Personnel Need Addressing to Deter Global Aggression

    A significant gap exists between the stated strategic and defense policies of the United States and the resources and capabilities required to implement those policies successfully.

    May 7, 2019

  • An aerial view of The Pentagon in Washington, D.C., photo by Ivan Cholakov/Getty Images

    Report

    Gaps Exist Between U.S. Strategy and Military Capacity

    There will not be enough resources to close the technological, doctrinal, and budgetary gaps between stated U.S. aims and the military capabilities needed to achieve them. What changes to U.S. strategy and investments could help close these gaps, and which missions should be prioritized?

    May 7, 2019

  • News Release

    News Release

    Nonviolent Ways the United States Could Exploit Russian Vulnerabilities

    Russia's use of information warfare and its conventional military arsenal make it a formidable opponent, but the state also has significant weaknesses that could be exploited. A range of nonviolent measures could stress Russia's military, its economy, and the regime's political standing at home and abroad.

    Apr 24, 2019

  • Report

    Report

    Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground

    As the U.S. National Defense Strategy recognizes the United States is currently locked in a great-power competition with Russia. This report analyzes how the United States can compete to its own advantage and capitalize on Russia's weaknesses.

    Apr 24, 2019

  • Red Square in Moscow, Russia, photo by mnn/Adobe Stock

    Research Brief

    Ways the United States Could Overextend and Unbalance Russia

    Despite its vulnerabilities and anxieties, Russia remains a formidable opponent in a few key domains. What non-violent, cost-imposing measures could the United States pursue to stress Russia's economy, its military, and the regime's political standing at home and abroad?

    Apr 24, 2019

  • 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

  • Blog

    NATO's 70th Anniversary, Food Deserts, Teachers: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on effective teachers, NATO's 70th anniversary, food deserts, and more.

    Apr 5, 2019

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

    Report

    What Makes U.S. Military Interventions Successful?

    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.

    Apr 1, 2019

  • Report

    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

    Multimedia

    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 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 After 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 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 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