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.

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  • LEFT: U.S. Army sergeants conduct an all-hazards survey of a suspected hazardous area for exercise Orca 2021 at the Anchorage Fire Training Center, Anchorage, Alaska, May 18, 2021; RIGHT: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Atlas robot, developed by Boston Dynamics; photos by Jason Kriess/U.S. National Guard and Worcester Polytechnic Institute/DARPA

    Report

    Can the Human Body Be a Warfighting Domain?

    Recent advances in biotechnologies have renewed questions about their use in warfighting. Sophisticated future actors may use pathogens, brain-computer interfaces, genomic enhancements, and wearable technology to supplement and strengthen warfighters.

    Jan 2, 2024

  • Members of the Estonian Defence Forces are seen during Spring Storm NATO exercises near Tapa, Estonia, May 19, 2023, photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/Reuters

    Commentary

    Joining NATO Is Not Enough to Defend Ukraine: Allies Must Step Up

    Any security pledges for Ukraine may be wanting unless backed up by an allied force presence. An armed peacekeeping force could lack sufficient firepower or robust rules of engagement. A stronger force would be more credible.

    Dec 28, 2023

  • Israel Defense Forces' ground operation in Gaza on November 12, 2023, photo by EyePress via Reuters

    Commentary

    The Trouble with a Cease-Fire

    Given that Hamas promised to repeat the October 7 attack until Israel's annihilation, it is no wonder that Israelis nearly uniformly want, as one Israeli politician put it, to finish the job this time around. To Israelis, the international calls for a cease-fire ring hollow.

    Dec 26, 2023

  • Ukrainian service members check a destroyed Russian BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle in the newly liberated village of Storozheve, June 14, 2023, photo by Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters

    Commentary

    Ukraine, Gaza, and the U.S. Army's Counterinsurgency Legacy

    What insights from Russia's war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war might be meaningful to the U.S. Army and the rest of the joint force?

    Dec 22, 2023

  • U.S. Marines conduct multilateral training alongside the Netherlands Royal Marines, German Sea Battalion, and Belgian Paratroopers in Norway, February 21, 2019, photo courtesy of 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    The U.S. Military Needs to Build Arctic Capabilities and Capacity

    By making substantial investments in Arctic platforms, equipment, infrastructure, and training, U.S. military forces will be better able to shape the Arctic security environment, helping to deter potential threats and protect U.S. interests in a region that is tightly linked to overall U.S. interests.

    Dec 21, 2023

  • Unloading a truck at White Beach, Japan

    Report

    Assessing the Value of Overseas Military Campaigning in Strategic Competition

    The authors examine trade-offs between the contributions of campaigning instruments to U.S. strategic goals and their costs. They provide the foundations of a decision-support tool to inform U.S. Department of Defense campaign planning.

    Dec 13, 2023

  • U.S. President Joe Biden shakes hand with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Woodside, California, November 15, 2023, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Nuclear Shadows of the Ukraine War as Seen Through a Chinese Lens

    China-U.S. relations are once again on an upward trajectory after the meeting between presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit. But the good news should not obscure lingering bilateral tensions with respect to nuclear weapons.

    Dec 6, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    Strategic Disruption by Special Operations Forces: A Concept for Proactive Campaigning Short of Traditional War

    RAND researchers develop a new concept for strategic disruption by special operations forces, exploring how disruptive campaigns can frustrate an adversary’s preferred strategy and enable friendly gains across multiple instruments of national power.

    Dec 5, 2023

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg participates in the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 1, 2023, photo courtesy of NATO

    Commentary

    Can NATO Supercharge Military Greening?

    NATO has taken significant steps to reduce environmental impacts of military activities and has set voluntary emissions reduction targets for its member states. By leveraging its existing standardization processes to encompass a wider range of equipment, supplies, and practices, NATO can solidify its role as the preeminent military leader on climate.

    Dec 1, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    Designing A Strange Game: A Nuclear Wargame for the 21st Century

    This report details the theoretical motivation and design of a wargame meant to address the lack of serious games that consider nuclear weapon employment and tools available to teach stakeholders about the challenges of nuclear weapon employment.

    Nov 28, 2023

  • A simulated tactical nuclear attack drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea. Photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and obtained by Reuters on September 3, 2023, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Deterrence of North Korean Limited Nuclear Attacks

    No single action is likely to deter North Korean nuclear weapon use. But a combination of efforts may convince Kim Jong-un that any use of nuclear weapons for coercion would be very dangerous to his future, and could be a powerful approach to deterring North Korea.

    Nov 27, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    Revisiting RAND's Russia Wargames After the Invasion of Ukraine: Summary and Implications

    This report summarizes reexamined RAND tabletop exercises involving Russia from the past eight years in a review of wargaming methods and analysis and presents implications for future potential conflicts involving major powers.

    Nov 21, 2023

  • A U.S. Army Soldier assigned to 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division operates a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).

    Visualization

    Logic Model for Non-Lethal Weapons in the U.S. Department of Defense

    This logic model is intended to help characterize the impact of Non-Lethal Weapons (NLWs) within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and is based on a RAND project that assessed the impact of diverse Intermediate Force Capabilities (IFCs).

    Nov 20, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    'Israel's 9/11,' Promoting the 988 Hotline, the Future of Space: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on why the Oct. 7 attack wasn't Israel's 9/11, humanity's future approach to space, the pressing need to ensure more people know about the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, and more.

    Nov 17, 2023

  • Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari shows what the Israeli military says is a tunnel at a location given as Gaza, in this still image taken from video released November 13, 2023, photo by Israel Defense Forces/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    The West's Incoherent Critique of Israel's Gaza Strategy

    The battlefield geography of Gaza means that any operation there would turn into a bloody, highly destructive ground operation, with a lot of civilians caught in the crossfire. While Israel can mitigate some of these effects, neither Israel nor any other military can prevent them entirely. In this war, there is no happy medium.

    Nov 16, 2023

  • A loitering munition UAV on display as Taiwan's Defence Ministry showcases its domestically developed drones to the media in Taichung, Taiwan, March 14, 2023, photo by Ann Wang/Reuters

    Commentary

    Chinese Strategists Evaluate the Use of 'Kamikaze' Drones in the Russia-Ukraine War

    Both Russia and Ukraine have used loitering munitions successfully in the current war, and China is watching closely. Chinese strategists are likely already considering how to refine offensive tactics and improve defensive countermeasures in the context of a Taiwan scenario.

    Nov 7, 2023

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 11, 2023, photo by Johanna Geron/Reuters

    Commentary

    NATO Needs a Plan for Military and Nonmilitary Instruments of Power to Work Together

    To adapt to changes in warfighting, NATO is developing a multi-domain operations warfighting concept. But for this concept to be successful, it must include a plan to manage military operations' increasing reliance on and interaction with nonmilitary instruments of power.

    Nov 6, 2023

  • U.S. service members participate with allies and partners from multiple nations in exercises throughout West Virginia, May and June 2023, photo by Staff Sgt. Jake SeaWolf/U.S. National Guard

    Commentary

    Winning the Irregular World War

    If the United States hopes to prevail in an asymmetrical world war, it must upgrade its abilities to provide self-defense and resistance support to its allies and partners, and better coordinate its disparate efforts to counter Russia and China across departments and agencies.

    Nov 6, 2023

  • A Marine amphibious assault crewman with 3rd Marine Regiment communicates with other AAVs after landing ashore at the Naval Education Training Center in Zambales, Philippines, April 21, 2015, photo by Cpl. Matthew J. Bragg/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    Inflection Point: How to Reverse the Erosion of U.S. and Allied Military Power and Influence

    U.S. military forces no longer enjoy the kind of comprehensive superiority that was the foundation of victories over adversary states. Re-establishing a credible posture against aggression by highly capable adversaries will call for sustained, coordinated efforts by the United States, its allies, and its key partners to rethink their approaches to defeating aggression and to recast important elements of their military forces and postures.

    Nov 3, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Disinformation Amid the Israel-Hamas War, U.S. Gun Policy, Cannabis: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how the information war may play out between Israel and Hamas, what the evidence says (and doesn't say) about U.S. gun policy, supply models for recreational cannabis, and more.

    Nov 3, 2023