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

  • Russian President Putin attends a conference of heads of security and intelligence agencies of the Commonwealth of Independent States member countries remotely in Moscow, Russia, September 29, 2022, photo by Gavriil Grigorov/Sputnik via Reuters

    Commentary

    Nuclear Weapons and Putin's 'Holy War'

    Russia's nuclear saber-rattling has shifted the stakes of the war in Ukraine. But enabling Russia's blackmail doesn't prevent the catastrophic costs of nuclear escalation. It merely shifts those costs away from Russia and into the future, inviting other nuclear states to pull the same move for their conquests.

    Nov 2, 2022

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosts Japan's Minister of Defense Yasukazu Hamada at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., September 14, 2022, photo by Lisa Ferdinando/U.S. Department of Defense

    Commentary

    How Should the U.S. Military Share Secrets?

    For security cooperation to work, allies may need access to details of U.S. military plans and activities. But does the need for a clearly defined U.S. advantage prevent sharing information that may be broadly in the U.S. interest? Who should evaluate this advantage, and at what level?

    Oct 31, 2022

  • CM-11 tanks fire artillery during a live-fire drill, in Pingtung county, Taiwan, September 7, 2022, photo by Ceng Shou Yi/Reuters

    Commentary

    Ukraine's Dream Could Be Taiwan's Nightmare

    Defenders of territorial sovereignty and a peaceful world order may be cheered by Ukraine's success, but there is danger that success could decrease the urgency of efforts to strengthen Taiwan. China will seek to learn from the problems Russia has had in Ukraine. Will the U.S. and other supporters of Taiwan do the same?

    Oct 28, 2022

  • A compilation of images showing global connections, chess pieces, and a member of the U.S. military, photos by piranka/Getty Images; Anusorn/Adobe Stock; and Lance Cpl. Mackenzie Binion/U.S. Marine Corps

    Report

    The Role of Information in U.S. Concepts for Strategic Competition

    Gray zone activities—acts of aggression that remain below the threshold of war—can be used to gain an edge in great-power competition. How can the information environment support U.S. responses to these activities?

    Oct 25, 2022

  • Commanding General of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force awards U.S. Marines and Soldiers a challenge coin during an award ceremony in Okinawa, Japan, February 2019, photo by Joshua Sechser/U.S. Department of Defense, Commanding General of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force awards

    Report

    How China Might React to Shifting U.S. Posture in the Indo-Pacific

    As the U.S. military weighs posture enhancements in the Indo-Pacific to counter China's military development and influence, understanding how China is likely to react to these changes is critical. A new framework offers key factors that U.S. policymakers and military planners should consider.

    Oct 25, 2022

  • A helicopter drops water to extinguish fuel tanks ablaze on the Kerch bridge in the Kerch Strait, Crimea, October 8, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    Beware the Explosive Vessels

    The initial explosion that damaged the Kerch Strait Bridge may have come from an uncrewed surface vehicle (USV). If it was indeed caused by a USV, it could be a portent of future warfare. Military and homeland security authorities may need to anticipate the potential use of USVs by adversaries or terrorists.

    Oct 20, 2022

  • Soldiers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division board a plane to return to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, March 6, 2010, U.S. Army photo

    Commentary

    Better Defense Planning Could Use Statistics to Try to See into the Future

    Statistical forecasting models that are grounded in empirical data can provide a valuable supplement to more-traditional methods. These tools allow for a more-structured and robust exploration of the future, its implications, and our assumptions about it.

    Oct 19, 2022

  • Russia claims to have successfully test-launched its nuclear-capable Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile in Plesetsk, Russian Federation, in this photo released by the Russian Ministry of Defence, April 20, 2022, photo by Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Putin's Nuclear Gambit Is a Huge Mistake

    Russia is losing in Ukraine, and the rhetoric of Russian leaders has recently become ever more apocalyptic. The United States and its allies should be prepared in case Russia goes down the nuclear path, but fear should not drive the Western response to Russia's nuclear bluster.

    Oct 19, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    "Killing Rats in a Porcelain Shop": PLA Urban Warfare in a Taiwan Campaign

    This chapter considers the dedicated efforts the PLA has focused on since the late 2000s to develop an urban warfare capacity that appears to be directed at the capture of Taipei in a Cross-straits contingency.

    Oct 19, 2022

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference following the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaders' summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, October 14, 2022, photo by Valery Sharifulin/Sputnik Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Vladimir Putin Is Likely to Be Disappointed

    None of the Kremlin's recent gambits—annexation, mobilization, or personnel shuffles—can overcome the larger problems facing Russia's military. And in the months ahead, its difficulties will only worsen.

    Oct 18, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Modeling and Measuring the Effects of Economic Shocks on a Defense Industrial Base

    The purpose of this report is to assist Department of Defense decisionmakers called upon to respond to adverse economic shocks by identifying opportunities for improving analysis of shocks and their effects on U.S. defense postures.

    Oct 18, 2022

  • BTS perform during the 64th Annual Grammy Awards show in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. April 3, 2022, photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

    Commentary

    Could K-Pop Help Deter Kim Jong-un's Provocations?

    The United States and Republic of Korea could be more specific and creative in seeking to deter Kim Jong-un. The global popularity of K-Pop could be part of the strategy.

    Oct 11, 2022

  • Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi attends a news conference in Tehran, Iran, August 29, 2022, photo by Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Iran Nuclear Deal: Is the Juice Still Worth the Squeeze?

    The talks to reinstate the Iran nuclear deal have been dragging on for 18 months. But the negotiations are not about very much; the general contours of the original agreement still hold. As the clock keeps ticking, though, it gets harder to revive it. At some point, the juice won't be worth the squeeze.

    Oct 10, 2022

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin declares the annexation of four Ukrainian provinces at the Great Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, September 30, 2022, photo by Grigory Sysoyev/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    A Moment of Strategic Clarity

    With the Russian mobilization and declared annexation, whatever prospects there were for a negotiated peace seem to have all but vanished. Any result short of Ukrainian victory will be, in the long run, a worse outcome for the rules-based international order.

    Oct 3, 2022

  • A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft makes a very low altitude pass by USS Donald Cook, April 12, 2016, photo by U.S. Navy

    Report

    Russian Coercive Signaling Toward the West

    In recent years, Russia has consistently engaged in signaling activities—military actions far short of direct aggression but often creating escalatory risks—toward the United States and its allies. Understanding what drives this behavior can help U.S. efforts to interpret future events.

    Sep 29, 2022

  • Cars drive and residents gather at the Shorja wholesale market during a sandstorm in Baghdad, Iraq, July 3, 2022, photo by Ahmed Saad/Reuters

    Report

    A New Approach to U.S. Security Policy in the Middle East

    U.S. interests in the Middle East and the risks posed to them have evolved in ways that call for a modified set of priorities. The United States should not disengage from the region, but instead protect its interests by relying less on military operations and more on diplomacy and other civilian tools.

    Sep 22, 2022

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin makes an address on the Russia-Ukraine conflict in Moscow, Russia, September 21, 2022, photo by Russian Presidential Press Service/Kremlin via Reuters

    Blog

    RAND Experts React to Putin's Latest Threatening Rhetoric

    Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to double down on his country's war effort during a major speech, calling up hundreds of thousands of new troops, threatening Ukraine and the West, vowing to use “all the means at our disposal,” and pointing out that he is not bluffing. Here's what RAND experts had to say.

    Sep 21, 2022

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with journalists in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, June 29, 2022, photo by Dmitry Azarov/Sputnik via Reuters

    Commentary

    The Rise of the Rest: How Russia Views the Future World Order

    What Russia seeks is new political leadership across the Western world that does not support a status quo that can isolate Russia from the capital and technology it needs to generate security and prosperity over the long term.

    Sep 19, 2022

  • A Russian flag lies on the ground near a destroyed Russian tank in the town of Izium, which was liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Battle of Kharkiv, Ukraine, September 14, 2022, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Commentary

    Ukraine's 1777 Moment

    The Battle of Saratoga turned the tides of the Revolutionary War, ultimately leading to American independence. Nearly 250 years later, the Battle of Kharkiv may be a similar turning point in Ukraine's fight against Russia.

    Sep 19, 2022

  • Multimedia

    Multimedia

    Book Discussion with National Security Correspondent Michael Gordon

    The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy hosted a book discussion featuring Michael Gordon, a national security correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. Gordon and a panel of Middle East experts discussed his new book, "Degrade and Destroy."

    Sep 13, 2022