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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  • Report

    Report

    Operational Unpredictability and Deterrence: Evaluating Options for Complicating Adversary Decisionmaking

    This report assesses whether and how the U.S. military might utilize unpredictability in force employment, posture, and operations to deter adversaries and identifies the possible risks and costs of such approaches.

    Aug 11, 2021

  • U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Newman watches the sunrise after a patrol mission near Zabul, Afghanistan, March 19, 2009, photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Mancini/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Applying Machiavellian Discourses to the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

    After 20 years of war without victory in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it is time to derive key lessons from both conflicts to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Niccolò Machiavelli, whose insights on statecraft have endured for five centuries, is a valuable guide in analyzing those lessons.

    Aug 9, 2021

  • The USS Bonhomme Richard , left, and USS Green Bay docked at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, March 5, 2015, photo by Lt. David Levy/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    A Taiwan Contingency and Japan's Counterstrike Debate

    The United States and Japan could be drawn into a conflict in the event of Chinese aggression against Taiwan whether they like it or not. Allied defense planning could consider how Japan might further reinforce deterrence and if necessary improve its ability to contribute to the common defense.

    Jul 23, 2021

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un take a walk in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this picture released by KCNA on June 21, 2019, photo by KCNA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Can China Be a Real Partner in Bringing North Korea to the Nuclear Negotiating Table?

    The United States remains committed to the goal of denuclearization of North Korea. China is more interested in maintaining a delicate geopolitical balance to counter U.S. influence in the region and in expanding its own reach. Thus, prospects for productive U.S.-China cooperation on the North Korean nuclear threat seem faint at best.

    Jul 14, 2021

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in an undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, May 15, 2017, photo by KCNA via Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korean Nuclear Weapons Pose an Existential Threat to China

    Despite the current border closures between their two countries, China and North Korea remain resolutely pledged to a “blood-alliance.” But this partnership has vastly different implications depending on which side of the border you consider.

    Jul 13, 2021

  • A supporter of Ebrahim Raisi displays his portrait during a celebratory rally for his presidential election victory in Tehran, Iran, June 19, 2021, photo by Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Iran May Be in No Hurry to Get Nuclear Weapons Even Without a Nuclear Deal

    History shows that many countries with advanced nuclear technologies but without nuclear bombs opt to stay that way. There are reasons to believe that Iran, too, may choose to remain non-nuclear at least in the foreseeable future.

    Jun 28, 2021

  • A Russian Mi-8 military helicopter is seen through a window while flying during a rehearsal for the Navy Day parade in Saint Petersburg, Russia, July 21, 2019, photo by Anton Vaganov/Reuters

    Report

    How Would NATO Compete with Russia?

    Western threat perceptions of Russia have risen sharply in recent years, bolstered by its acts of military aggression, political interference, and efforts to expand its global influence. What would be the strengths, weaknesses, and risks for the United States, NATO, and Russia in a large-scale war?

    Jun 22, 2021

  • Sailors conduct flight operations on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan , in the South China Sea, June 14, 2021, photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Quinton Lee/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Defeat Is Possible

    If the United States is to have a reasonable hope of winning a war, it needs to think about what it would be like to lose. An essential first step could be to start taking the prospect of protracted near-peer conflict seriously.

    Jun 17, 2021

  • A convoy of U.S. military vehicles

    Report

    Measuring Strategic Readiness

    The U.S. Department of Defense asked RAND to provide a method and specific metrics to enable the defense community to more fully answer questions about the nation's readiness to execute the National Defense Strategy. A new report examines the what metrics are needed to assess the nation's ability to respond to conflicts.

    Jun 14, 2021

  • Blog

    China's Ambitions, Origins of the Coronavirus, Income Inequality: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on China’s quest for global primacy, understanding the coronavirus origin story, how parents feel about sending their children back to school, and more.

    Jun 11, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Bomber Strike Packages with Chinese Characteristics

    This book chapter traces the development of China's bomber strike packages and assesses how these flights support operational training for Chinese air force wartime missions.

    Jun 10, 2021

  • China outlined in red on a NASA image of Earth, photo by NASA and RomoloTavani/Getty Images

    Report

    China's Quest for Global Primacy

    U.S.-China relations have entered a new phase characterized by sharpening competition. Beijing's international and defense strategies aim to outcompete the United States and establish primacy in the Asia-Pacific region and leadership of the world order. What does this mean for U.S. policy?

    Jun 7, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Accelerating the Australian Army's Contest of Ideas

    In this report, the authors analyse Australian Army publications from the period 2014–2020 to understand how a contest of ideas aligns with a proposed innovation flow model to support the evolution of Army's intellectual edge.

    Jun 2, 2021

  • War, military threat, military power concept. China. Tanks toy near chinese flag on black background top view, photo by 9dreamstudio/AdobeStock

    Report

    Deciphering Chinese Deterrence Signalling in the New Era

    China is changing its approach to deterrence signalling in Xi Jinping's 'new era' as it leverages growing military capabilities and the availability of new communication channels. How can Australia, the United States, and other countries better decipher Chinese deterrence signalling in this new era?

    May 27, 2021

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III during a virtual meeting at the Pentagon, in Washington, D.C., May 5, 2021, photo by Chad McNeeley/U.S. Department of Defense

    Commentary

    It's Time to Drop 'Competition' in the National Defense Strategy

    What should the U.S. Defense Department do during peacetime if the United States is not competing with China and Russia? Simply put, it should prepare to win the next war, while defeating any military aggression below the threshold of conflict.

    May 18, 2021

  • Then vice president Joseph Biden shakes hands with Russian prime minister Vladmir Putin in 2011

    Journal Article

    Expanding the Scope for Statecraft in U.S. Russia Policy

    In the run-up to a summit between the United States and Russia, is it time to revisit core assumptions, and expand the scope for statecraft in U.S. Russia policy?

    May 18, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Chinese Bomber Flights Around Taiwan: For What Purpose?

    After conducting two strategic bomber flights around Taiwan in late 2016, Beijing significantly stepped up its operational tempo with at least another five flights circumnavigating the island in mid-2017.

    May 18, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Flag Lags but Follows: The PLA and China's Great Leap Outward

    This chapter explores how China may protect its overseas interests, analyzes PLA thinking about the security dimensions of the Belt and Road Initiative, and considers three case studies on what securing China's overseas interests involves in concrete terms.

    May 18, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Dare to Face the "Strong Enemy 强敌": How Xi Jinping Has Made the PLA Talk About the United States

    The PLA's focus on the U.S. as its benchmark for military modernization and as a potential future adversary is well known. But what is new is how the PLA talks about these efforts: under Xi, this focus on the U.S. is increasingly obvious.

    May 18, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Where to Next? PLA Considerations for Overseas Base Site Selection

    There has been much speculation about where China's next overseas military base will be, but what does the Chinese military itself think about selecting the locations for its overseas military bases?

    May 14, 2021