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?

Explore Military Strategy

  • World map with chess pieces with flags of Russia, China, and the United States, photo by theasis/Getty Images

    Commentary

    The Need to Think More Clearly About 'Great-Power Competition'

    Today's world order is increasingly defined by competition between the United States and a host of major powers, especially China and Russia. Who is America's principal competitor and over what is it competing? What is America’s ultimate objective? And how will it prepare its economy and its society for infinite competition of an indefinite nature?

    Feb 11, 2019

  • Chinese ICBM missile with China flag graphic overlay, photo by Allexxandar/Getty Images

    Journal Article

    Of Bombs and Bureaucrats: Internal Drivers of Nuclear Force Building in China and the United States

    This article examines the domestic influences on US and Chinese nuclear forces. While strategic factors largely drive each side's, underappreciated domestic and organizational factors also influence outcomes.

    Feb 8, 2019

  • Man in a field looking at the horizon, photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How Horizon Scanning Can Give the Military a Technological Edge

    Horizon scanning could promote innovative practices and innovation uptake, through the adoption of new ideas, equipment, and methods, with benefits that could positively affect the UK economy as a whole. But a wider mechanism for processing and assessing the selected developments would be needed.

    Feb 8, 2019

  • Military leader briefs a team of government officials, photo by Gorodenkoff/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Conceptual Design for a Multiplayer Security Force Assistance Strategy Game

    The authors explain the conceptual underpinnings and basic rules for a RAND-designed security force assistance strategy game. The game is a tool to explore the potential benefits and risks of different security force assistance strategies.

    Feb 7, 2019

  • President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un walk together before their working lunch during their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Hard to Predict Outcome of Second Trump-Kim Summit

    It's difficult to predict the outcome of the second summit between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump. At the first, Kim offered to fully denuclearize during President Trump's first term. But he continued building nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. If Kim keeps stalling, serious tensions could follow.

    Feb 6, 2019

  • Binoculars on a map, photo by Angel_a/Getty Images

    Report

    The U.S. Department of Defense's Planning Process: Components and Challenges

    This report explores the current defense planning process used by the U.S. Department of Defense, with a focus on how scenarios are developed and employed to support defense planning.

    Feb 4, 2019

  • Sylvie Lanteaume, Cortney Weinbaum, Elsa B. Kania, and Stacie Pettyjohn discuss "Technology as a Battlefield Game Changer” at the 2018 Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security.

    Multimedia

    The Role of Multi-Domain Operations

    As part of a panel on “Technology as a Battlefield Game Changer” at the 2018 Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security, Stacie Pettyjohn explains the concept of multi-domain operations as a way to penetrate Chinese and Russian anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) networks and to deter or defeat aggression.

    Dec 31, 2018

  • Part of Operation Future Vertical Lift, an AH-64 Apache helicopter takes off in Orogrande, N.M., April 23, 2018

    Commentary

    An Army Caught in the Middle Between Luddites, Luminaries, and the Occasional Looney

    The Futures Command is the U.S. Army's newly established major command focused on preparing for future war with a peer competitor. Why was this such an important move for the Army?

    Dec 20, 2018

  • A 3D rendering of a chess board on a globe

    Report

    What Does the Emerging Era of International Competition Look Like?

    There is a general expectation of a new era of strategic competition, characterized by growing rivalry in the political, economic, and military spheres. But there is no consensus on what that means or what forms it could take. Theory and history can shed light on the coming era.

    Dec 19, 2018

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Beijing, China, October 26, 2018

    Commentary

    Sino-Japan Rapprochement Will Likely Fail

    Recent meetings and otherwise relative calm between China and Japan may give the impression that their ties are improving. But because of their strategic competition and fundamental differences, it is more likely than not that their current rapprochement will fail.

    Dec 7, 2018

  • Members of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force 1st Airborne Brigade descend from a CH-47 helicopter during an annual new year military exercise at Narashino exercise field in Funabashi, east of Tokyo, Japan, January 12, 2018

    Commentary

    Is Japan's New Defense Plan Ambitious Enough?

    Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan has significantly increased capabilities to meet increasing regional security challenges. But Tokyo may need to do more to manage the complex security environment surrounding Japan.

    Dec 6, 2018

  • Australian Army M777 howitzer crew

    Report

    Comprehensive Analysis of Strategic Force Generation Challenges in the Australian Army

    This report reviews the modernisation efforts and force generation practices of four armed forces with global presence to derive lessons and practices to inform the Australian Army's own reorganisation policy.

    Dec 3, 2018

  • Japan's Self-Defense Forces F-15 fighter jets (top and bottom) conduct an exercise with U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers above the East China Sea, Japan, September 9, 2017

    Report

    Standoff Over Senkaku Islands Carries Growing Risk of Miscalculation

    China has stepped up its vessel and air activities near the disputed Senkaku Islands. Japan has made posture changes and increased the quantity of aircraft and radar in the region, but it does not have the resources to match Chinese air activity. And since it's an issue of domestic air sovereignty, the U.S. is limited in what it can do to assist Japan.

    Dec 3, 2018

  • Report

    Report

    Planning an Army for the 21st Century: Principles to Guide U.S. Army Force Size, Mix, and Component Distribution

    In this Perspective, the authors seek to provide criteria for an effective and efficient Army for the 21st century and lay out principles to help guide leaders in making contemporary force-planning decisions.

    Dec 3, 2018

  • Blog

    Military Spouses, Exercise Incentives, Libraries: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on a scholarship program for military spouses, a wellness program that uses the Apple Watch, how libraries can improve public health, and more.

    Nov 30, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leads the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon in this undated photo released on November 16, 2018

    Commentary

    Why North Korea Sanctions Relief Is Inappropriate at This Time

    In early 2018, Kim Jong Un signaled that he was ready to negotiate abandoning North Korea's nuclear weapons with the United States. But since then, Pyongyang hasn't taken steps to denuclearize. The DPRK's actions speak louder than its words.

    Nov 26, 2018

  • Senior military officials watch a parade at the main Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018

    Commentary

    How America Can Test North Korea's True Intentions

    While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has suggested he may be prepared to abandon his nuclear ambitions, there has been no proof that he is serious. The United States could take steps to discover Kim's true intentions.

    Nov 26, 2018

  • Blog

    Saudi Arabia, Border Troops, China's Military: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how to deter aggression abroad, examining the need for U.S. troops at the border, China's aerospace capabilities, and more.

    Nov 23, 2018

  • A PLAAF J-20 stealth fighter performs during the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, China, November 6, 2018

    Report

    How the U.S. Air Force Shapes China's Military Aerospace Goals

    Aerospace power has been a core feature of the People's Liberation Army's rapid modernization. The main driver for its development is the PLA's view that it needs to be prepared to deter and, if necessary, defeat the United States in a high-end clash.

    Nov 21, 2018

  • A world map with digital infographics

    Report

    What Deters and Why

    What must the United States do to deter potential aggressors from attacking allies or other countries in large-scale conventional conflicts? Managing an adversary's motives is the key first step.

    Nov 20, 2018