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

  • Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at Palais Coburg for nuclear talks Vienna, Austria, February 28, 2022, photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Renewed Nuclear Deal With Iran: Turning Back the Clock?

    Diplomats from Europe, the United States, Russia, China, and Iran are in Vienna trying to revive the Iran nuclear agreement of 2015. But even if negotiations succeed, the post-deal environment could be much more unstable than it was seven years ago.

    Mar 4, 2022

  • The Ronald Reagan Strike Group ships conduct an exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships in the South China Sea, August 31, 2018

    Report

    Japan’s Possible Acquisition of Long-Range Land-Attack Missiles and the Implications for the U.S.-Japan Alliance

    The security environment in Northeast Asia is rapidly worsening. How is this situation affecting the debate in Japan over how to deter Chinese coercion? And what role might the U.S.-Japan alliance might play? To better understand these, RAND organized a virtual conference to discuss.

    Mar 1, 2022

  • Russian President Putin appears on a screen at the White House briefing room, signing documents recognizing separatist areas of Ukraine as independent, in Washington, D.C., February 21, 2022, photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Commentary

    The False Choice Between China and Russia

    Some China hawks have argued that any U.S. response to Russia would detract from America's ability to deter China. But it's a mistake to think of China and Russia as independent problems.

    Feb 21, 2022

  • An SM-3 Block IIA is launched from the USS John Paul Jones during a flight test off Hawaii resulting in the first intercept of a ballistic missile target by the SM-3IIA, February 3, 2017, photo by Missile Defense Agency

    Report

    Instability in the U.S.-Russia Deterrence Relationship

    U.S.-Russian strategic stability is based on mutual vulnerability to retaliation, which eliminates the incentive to strike first. But the United States has developed counterforce capabilities that Moscow fears could be used for a first strike. What could be done to address Russia's concerns and increase stability?

    Feb 17, 2022

  • U.S. Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker/Research Vessel Healy breaking ice in the Arctic, November 30, 1999 , photo by U.S. Coast Guard/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    U.S. Military May Need to Invest More in Arctic Capabilities

    Operating in the Arctic is inherently expensive. Despite this, it could be critical that the United States make the necessary investments to ensure a robust ability to operate in the Arctic to withstand Russian challenges there.

    Feb 10, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Decoding Crimea: Pinpointing the Influence Strategies of Modern Information Warfare

    For this paper we write about information in warfare from the perspective of Strategic Communications (StratCom) and the pursuits of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence.

    Feb 2, 2022

  • Ukrainian Armed Forces during tactical military exercises at a shooting range in the Kherson region, Ukraine, January 19, 2022, p

    Commentary

    Two Choices in Ukraine

    Facing existential risk, Ukraine may consider unprecedented steps. Urgent measures might help it protect against a Russian invasion. And if the immediate threat were to ebb, Ukraine might use the time gained to prepare for potential future threats.

    Jan 31, 2022

  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands at the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia, October 24, 2019, photo by Sergei Chirikov/Pool/Reuters

    Report

    Russia's Growing Presence in Africa

    Knowing where Russia is involved in Africa and where it is likely to become engaged in the future can help U.S. Air Forces Africa refine its regional strategy. A geostrategic assessment shows Russian activity in commercial, diplomatic, military, and paramilitary domains.

    Jan 31, 2022

  • Task Force Warrior staff continue mission planning after a power outage during Hurricane Delta at Fort Polk, Louisiana, October 10, 2020, photo by Maj. James Sheehan/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    The Future and Past of War and Disease

    The U.S. government is actively reviewing its efforts to counter biological attacks and the Department of Defense is taking steps that could allow it to perform day-to-day operations during a pandemic, but it might not be preparing adequately for a future large-scale operation during a more-transmissible and lethal pandemic.

    Jan 27, 2022

  • U.S. and China flags made into puzzle pieces, photo by studiocasper/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Shaping China's Ambitions

    Managing a rivalry with a regionally ambitious, globally engaged peer competitor of China's economic heft and technological sophistication will be one of the most profound strategic tests the United States has ever faced. A major lesson from its last global rivalry is that mistaken impressions about the nature of the rival and the character of the rivalry can create momentum for dangerous policies.

    Jan 24, 2022

  • Ukraine soldiers engaging in military training in various unknown locations, January 20, 2022, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    U.S. Military Aid to Ukraine: A Silver Bullet?

    U.S. military assistance to Ukraine now will at best be marginal in affecting the outcome of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. It might be morally justified to help a U.S. partner at risk of aggression. But given the scale of the potential threat to Ukraine and its forces, the most effective way Washington can help is to work on finding a diplomatic solution.

    Jan 21, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Multi-Domain Integration in Defence: Conceptual Approaches and Lessons from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea

    A study examining Russia, China, Iran and North Korea's current and future thinking on Multi-Domain Integration.

    Jan 20, 2022

  • Ukrainian service members unload anti-tank weapons supplied by Britain at the Boryspil airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, January 18, 2022, photo by Ukrainian Defence Ministry/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    Ukraine Needs Help Surviving Airstrikes, Not Just Killing Tanks

    A Russian large-scale multidomain operation would be devastating for the Ukrainian military and people, and Ukraine should work to prevent that. But steps can also be taken to reduce the effects of the air and missile strikes that would likely lead off such an operation.

    Jan 19, 2022

  • The Embarked Security Team (EST) on Board USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7), along with Sailors from Coastal Riverine Squadron THREE's (CRS-3) boarded on Riverine Command Boats (RCBs), defend the vessel using dazzler non-lethal weapon and blank rounds during a simulated attack as it departs to support ships during Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, comprising over 40 ships and submarines and over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th iteration in the series that began in 1971 and is the world's largest international maritime exercise, photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Martin Wright/U.S. Navy

    Report

    How to Effectively Assess the Impact of Non-Lethal Weapons as Intermediate Force Capabilities

    The U.S Department of Defense needs to be able to assess the tactical, operational, and strategic impact of non-lethal weapons to inform how and when they should be used and their integration into overall DoD capabilities. How do non-lethal weapons contribute to overarching DoD goals?

    Jan 18, 2022

  • Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Murasame-class Yuudachi transits the South China Sea during a joint operation photo exercise, October 28, 2021, photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Langholf/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Taiwan and Six Potential New Year's Resolutions for the U.S.-Japanese Alliance

    How might the United States and Japan prepare for possible conflict with China over Taiwan, and ensure forces are postured to operate together? The alliance could benefit from greater clarity, and practical conversations could make a better and stronger alliance in the new year.

    Jan 5, 2022

  • The launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile during a test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, February 5, 2020, photo by SrA Clayton Wear/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    Weighing the Cost and Necessity of Nuclear Modernization

    The United States has fielded a Triad of air-, sea-, and land-based nuclear delivery systems since the 1950s. Major components are nearing the end of their service lives, raising the question of whether to extend or replace them. Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to modernize, diversify, and expand their nuclear arsenals.

    Jan 3, 2022

  • Blog

    The Most Popular RAND Research of 2021

    As another extraordinary year draws to a close, we continue to believe that objective, nonpartisan research and analysis has a key role to play in navigating what continues to be a difficult time. Here are the 10 research projects that resonated most with rand.org readers in 2021.

    Dec 22, 2021

  • Blog

    RAND Commentary Highlights of 2021

    Vaccine rollouts, an attack on the U.S. Capitol, massive ransomware attacks, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, record numbers of job openings and people quitting, and more. RAND researchers weighed in on all these topics and more.

    Dec 21, 2021

  • U.S. President Joe Biden participates virtually in the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit at the White House in Washington, D.C., October 26, 2021, photo by Gripas Yuri/ABACA via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    Biden's Southeast Asia Policy Still Has Much to Prove

    As the Biden administration's first year comes to a close, how is the United States faring in Southeast Asia? Washington got a lot right, but it could do better to optimize competition against China and work on a more sensitive understanding of the delicate and at times precarious position Southeast Asian states are in.

    Dec 17, 2021

  • A new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile being launched in waters off the east coast of North Korea in a photo released by the North Korean Central News Agency on October 20, 2021, photo by KCNA via/Latin America News Agency via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    North Korea's Nuclear Arsenal and Prospects for Regional Peace

    Nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea have hovered at a standstill since 2019. With the door to diplomacy seemingly closed and North Korea marching forward on weapons development and making threatening statements, what are the prospects for Pyongyang's denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula?

    Dec 16, 2021