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.

  • The USS <em>Bonhomme Richard</em>, left, and USS <em>Green Bay</em> 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

    Jul 23, 2021

    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.

  • Soldiers participate in training at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, June 5, 2021, photo by Sgt. Mahsima Alkamooneh/U.S. Army

    Research Brief

    Should the U.S. Military Be Less Predictable?

    Aug 11, 2021

    The United States might strengthen deterrence by becoming more operationally unpredictable. Several approaches could work to increase adversary uncertainty about how U.S. forces would fight, but there are risks and costs.

Explore Military Strategy

  • Signal cables are laid out at a test location on Yucca Flat, the principal underground nuclear weapons testing area at the Nevada Test Site, in the 1990s, photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Field Office

    Commentary

    Nuclear Testing Not Needed Now

    Trump administration officials are reported to have recently discussed conducting a nuclear test, breaking a moratorium the United States has observed since 1992. Such a move is not necessary to ensure the reliability of the U.S. arsenal and could increase threats to U.S. and allied security by giving a green light to others to conduct nuclear tests.

    Jun 11, 2020

  • The Hawaii National Guard hosting the 2018 Pacific Rim: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Response, Enterprise Wargame at its Joint Force Headquarters in Honolulu, HI, July 10, 2018, photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Jackson/U.S. Air National Guard

    Commentary

    How Can Wargaming Improve Government Response to Catastrophic Events?

    Wargames are abstracted models of national security challenges, where players' decisions and their consequences are adjudicated within a rules-based environment. Due to its inherent flexibility as a tool, wargaming can be applied to a wide range of issues. Yet, it is important to understand what wargaming can and cannot do.

    May 29, 2020

  • Digital world map, photo by dem10/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Why the United States Will Need a New Foreign Policy in 2020

    Even before the pandemic, the United States faced a growing strategic predicament: U.S. challenges are mounting, and America's international commitments increasingly outstrip its means to fulfill them.

    May 26, 2020

  • Periodical

    Periodical

    RAND Review: May-June 2020

    Feature stories explore how military and local governments can work together to prepare their communities for climate change, and the unmet needs of civilians who return from war zones and other hot spots throughout the world.

    May 22, 2020

  • China's aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy military drill in the western Pacific Ocean, April 18, 2018, photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

    Commentary

    China's Aggression Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Little to Do with COVID-19

    As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to monopolize the attention of leaders around the world, some international observers of China have concluded that Beijing is attempting to exploit the crisis for geopolitical gain. The reality is that China has been engaging in the same types of pressure tactics for years and will likely continue once the pandemic passes.

    May 20, 2020

  • Kim Jong Un attends the completion of a fertilizer plant with his younger sister Kim Yo Jong, in a region north of Pyongyang, May 2, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korea Post–Kim Jong Un Reappearance: Expect Business as Usual in the Hermit Kingdom

    Kim Jong Un's return, while it leaves much to be desired in the way of explanation, should send one message to the international audience: North Korea's fate rests still in the hands of Kim Jong Un. And judging by appearances in recent days, Kim does not appear to intend to change the course of his strategy to reduce tensions with the United States.

    May 19, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Operating Low-Cost, Reusable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Contested Environments: Preliminary Evaluation of Operational Concepts

    The authors of this report summarize early thinking and analysis about how the U.S. Air Force might employ a force of "attritable"—low-cost and reusable—unmanned aerial vehicles in a demanding conventional warfighting scenario.

    May 11, 2020

  • Air National Guard, Utah Air National Guard, 151st ARW, 191st ARS, KC-135, Air refueling, C-17

    Report

    Geopolitical Trends and the Future of Warfare: The Changing Global Environment and Its Implications for the U.S. Air Force

    This volume of the Future of Warfare series explains six trends—U.S. polarization, China's rise, Asia's realignment, a revanchist Russia, upheaval in Europe, and turmoil in the Islamic world—that will drive conflict between now and 2030.

    May 11, 2020

  • Yuna Wong standing behind a wargame, photo by Dori Walker/RAND Corporation

    Q&A

    The Serious Side of Gaming: Q&A with Yuna Wong

    Yuna Wong, codirector of RAND's Center for Gaming, didn't expect to make gaming a focus of her career. In this interview, she discusses what drew her to the field, what makes a good wargame, and her latest research on the dangers of putting too much trust in artificial intelligence.

    May 8, 2020

  • A woman walks past a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Shanghai, China March 12, 2020, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Commentary

    Don't Be Fooled by China's Mask Diplomacy

    China has provided coronavirus-related aid to hundreds of countries. This appears to be an effort to make the world forget its role in the COVID-19 crisis—and to take advantage of its neighbors' current distraction.

    May 5, 2020

  • Representatives of 28 countries tour the Grafenwoehr training facilities and a live-fire demonstration of the XM1296 Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle-Dragoon, in Grafenwoehr, Germany, September 2018, photo by Markus Rauchenberger/U.S. Army

    Research Brief

    Reimagining Conventional Arms Control

    For much of the past 30 years, conventional arms control (CAC) has played a historic role in ensuring the security of Europe. But today, the CAC regime is outdated and mostly irrelevant. New approaches to CAC are needed to address the challenges posed by the current security environment.

    Apr 29, 2020

  • North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un sits in his vehicle after arriving at a railway station in Dong Dang, Vietnam, at the border with China, February 26, 2019, photo by Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korea After Kim Jong Un: 'How' Matters More Than 'Who'

    With rumors swirling that Kim Jong Un has suffered a health crisis, some are already asking who might succeed him as leader of North Korea. But who is not the most important question. What will matter more is what the new regime does to establish its legitimacy and how the United States and its allies respond.

    Apr 28, 2020

  • Half the cover of the 2018 National Defense Strategy

    Brochure

    Supporting the National Defense Strategy

    This document describes RAND's contributions to shaping the 2018 National Defense Strategy and ongoing contributions to Defense Department efforts to create the forces, posture, and operating concepts needed to achieve the goals of the strategy.

    Apr 27, 2020

  • The U.S. Army hosted a Russian Vienna Document inspection team to observe exercise Saber Guardian at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, 2017, photo by U.S. Army

    Report

    Conventional Arms Control in Europe Needs a New Approach

    Conventional arms control (CAC) was a crucial element of the negotiations that ended the Cold War peacefully. Today, however, the CAC regime is outdated and largely irrelevant. What new CAC measures could lower the risk of conflict in Europe?

    Apr 27, 2020

  • Soldiers from the Norwegian Army prepare their tank during a military drill in Setermoen, Norway, October 30, 2019, photo by Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Norway's Allies View Its Defense Challenges and Opportunities

    Norway's Ministry of Defence will shortly publish its next Long Term Plan, which outlines how the Armed Forces, in tandem with other elements of government and society, can best address the threats to Norway. Other countries can learn from how Norway chooses to tackle emerging challenges, and can benefit from its lessons learned.

    Apr 16, 2020

  • First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin CB ADC Speaks to guests as HMS Prince of Wales arrives in Portsmouth, photo by LPhot Ben Corbett/Royal Navy Imagery Database

    Report

    The Utility of Military Force and Public Understanding in Today's Britain

    This study challenges the traditional relationships between the UK's military, government and people. It examines the relevance of the construct for the 21st Century and what this evolving relationship means for the nature of the utility of force.

    Apr 16, 2020

  • Russell Shaver with sisters Ann Lloyd (L) and Sally Bauernfeind (R), photo courtesy of the Shaver family

    Announcement

    Russell Shaver, RAND Policy Analyst Who Studied Space Shuttle and Post-9/11 Airport Security, Dies at 83

    Russell D. Shaver, a former senior researcher at the RAND Corporation whose work influenced national policy debates on American military defense strategy, the economic feasibility of the early Space Shuttle program, and airport security after the 9/11 attacks, died March 31 in Fort Myers, Florida, from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was 83.

    Apr 13, 2020

  • A Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, September 5, 2017, photo by Yuri Kochetkov/Reuters

    Commentary

    New START Is Not NAFTA

    The 2010 New START Treaty with Russia reduces long-range nuclear arms. President Trump may seek a different deal, however, as he did in renegotiating NAFTA. But NAFTA talks succeeded because America had predominant leverage and because Canada and Mexico are friends. Neither holds true with Russia.

    Apr 8, 2020

  • A Norwegian Army Leopard 2A4 main battle tank during the NATO exercise Trident Juncture in Norway, 2018, photo by Ole-Sverre Haugli/Norwegian Armed Forces

    Report

    Enhancing Security on NATO's Northern Flank: Options for Norway

    Norway supports deterrence, crisis management, and security in the High North—which includes the Scandinavian territories and northern Russia. What regional insights can other NATO allies provide to help Norway in its security role?

    Mar 25, 2020

  • Blog

    New START, Trump's Middle East Peace Plan, New Tobacco Products: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on why the United States should extend the New START agreement, the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan, new tobacco products, and more.

    Feb 21, 2020