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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  • Missiles are displayed during a military parade marking the 75th anniversary of North Korea's army founding in Pyongyang, North Korea, February 8, 2023, photo by KCNA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Is North Korea Showing Off Its ICBMs?

    On February 8, North Korea held a military parade in Pyongyang to call attention to the strengths of the North's military weapons, including what appeared to be 11 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Can the United States and its allies afford to wait until North Korea has dozens of ICBMs and hundreds of nuclear weapons? Because that is the direction in which Kim says he is moving.

    Feb 15, 2023

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    What Russia Got Wrong: Can Moscow Learn From Its Failures in Ukraine?

    Russia's struggles in Ukraine cannot be explained only as endemic military problems. Is Russia capable of learning from its failures?

    Feb 15, 2023

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Moscow, Russia, February 9, 2023, photo by Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik via Reuters

    Commentary

    A Political Assessment of Putin's War on Ukraine

    Putin's war in Ukraine is already redefining the entire international order. If the United States acts now, it may be able to influence the shape of the post-war geopolitical terrain.

    Feb 13, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    Russia's Evolution Toward a Unified Strategic Operation: The Influence of Geography and Conventional Capacity

    In this report, RAND researchers examine the reasons behind Russia's evolution toward a unified strategic operation, as well as the capabilities that would be necessary to execute key conventional offensive tasks in such an operation.

    Feb 13, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    State of the Union, Mental Health First Aid, China's Spy Balloon: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on President Biden's State of the Union address, the benefits of mental health first aid training, insights on China’s spy balloon, and more.

    Feb 10, 2023

  • Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida receives salutes from Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force soldiers at Sagami Bay, south of Tokyo, Japan, November 6, 2022, photo by Issei Kato/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan's Long-Awaited Return to Geopolitics

    In very short order, Japan moved to change decades of strategic thinking and embark on a new approach to security. The stark reality of geopolitics and the realization that what was once hypothetical is now possible were likely enough to convince Japan that the time for a new approach to its security is now.

    Feb 6, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    The War in Ukraine, Software Supply Chain Risk, 'Hacking Equity': RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on lessons about defense strategy from the war in Ukraine, U.S.-France cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, software supply chain risk, and more.

    Feb 3, 2023

  • A Ukrainian service member prepares an anti-tank guided missile weapon system on a frontline near Soledar in Donetsk region, Ukraine, January 14, 2023, photo by Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Tale of Two Wars and the Pitfalls of Success

    Russia's war in Ukraine once again poses questions about how the United States prepares for conflict—not only which weapons it buys, but also how it envisions great-power wars in the 21st century. If the United States does learn the lessons of this war, then it may secure the U.S. military's edge for decades to come.

    Feb 2, 2023

  • Brochure

    Brochure

    Implications of Climate Change for Department of the Air Force Missions and Operations

    This compilation of climate research conducted within RAND Project AIR FORCE for the Department of the Air Force and more broadly across RAND offers insights about climate change and its implications for military operations and other contexts.

    Feb 1, 2023

  • Sailors on the USS Wasp observe as the Japanese destroyer JS Yuugiri moors alongside in Okinawa, Japan, April 23, 2018, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Japan's Strategic Shift: Significant, but Implementation Hurdles May Await

    Japan's new strategic documents appear to demonstrate a recognition in Tokyo that it must do more for its own defense in the face of unprecedented security challenges. The dedication of resources, pursuit of new capabilities, and overarching commitment to a more robust defense are all significant moves that represent landmark change by one of America's key allies.

    Jan 27, 2023

  • Soldiers of China's PLA take part in a joint multinational U.N. peacekeeping military exercise with troops from Pakistan, Mongolia, and Thailand, in Henan province, China, September 15, 2021, photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

    Testimony

    China's Overseas Military Diplomacy and Implications for U.S. Interests

    As the U.S.-China competition intensifies, military diplomacy is one of the tools that China could potentially use to gain advantage. What are some ways that China’s military diplomacy activities could challenge U.S. interests? And what are some recommendations for U.S. policymakers?

    Jan 26, 2023

  • U.S. Army soldiers conduct a convoy in support of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve near northeastern Syria, September 21, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Michael West/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Appreciating U.S. Ground Force Contributions to Operation Inherent Resolve

    Defeating ISIS hinged on a ground fight, requiring the grueling liberation of territory kilometer by kilometer. While Iraqi forces bore the brunt of frontline fighting, U.S. forces were also engaged in on-the-ground combat operations that hastened the defeat of ISIS. Appreciating such contributions will be necessary to distill the right lessons so that we might correctly apply them to future irregular warfare.

    Jan 25, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    First Mover Typology for the Space Domain: Building a Foundation for Future Analysis

    The authors offer a categorization and nuanced views of first moves in military strategy as a basis for understanding and further analysis of first mover advantage in the space domain.

    Jan 25, 2023

  • Soldiers release gasoline canisters on the Tamsui river simulating countering a Chinese invasion during asymmetric warfare drills in Taipei, Taiwan, July 19, 2022, photo by Ann Wang/Reuters

    Commentary

    'Strategic Ambiguity' May Have U.S. and Taiwan Trapped in a Prisoner's Dilemma

    For its proponents, the idea of strategic ambiguity seems to have become an end in itself that has not adapted, and logically cannot adapt to the disruptive growth in Beijing's military power. The conditions under which the policy worked seem to have evaporated with China's rise. Strategic clarity may offer a way out of this dilemma.

    Jan 18, 2023

  • Ukrainian artillerymen who destroyed columns of Russian equipment near Kyiv stand on defense of the Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine, December 16, 2022, photo by Dmytro Smoliyenko/Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    How the War in Ukraine Could End Sooner Than Expected

    There are predictions aplenty that Russia's war on Ukraine will persist. But it could also end soon. Kremlin regime change, a Russian army collapse, or a Ukrainian win are possible. None of these contingencies should be ruled out.

    Jan 17, 2023

  • A U.S. Air Force and a Republic of Korea air force F-35A Lighting II aircraft soar in a tight formation over Korea

    Research Brief

    Managing the Escalation Risks of U.S. Military Activities in the Indo-Pacific

    This brief describes how the United States can select and shape its military activities in the Indo-Pacific region to deter Chinese aggression against U.S. allies and partners while also limiting the risks of escalatory Chinese reactions.

    Jan 12, 2023

  • U.S. Navy vessels participate in an exercise with uncrewed surface vessels off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia, October 12, 2022, photo by Warren Duffie/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Could Taiwan Defend with Uncrewed Surface Vessels?

    Ukraine has demonstrated the ability of explosive uncrewed surface vessels to target ships. These weapons could play a role in preventing Chinese forces from successfully invading Taiwan in potential future scenarios.

    Jan 9, 2023

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    A Potential Russian Attack on NATO, China in the Arctic, Inflation: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how the West might respond in the case of a limited Russian attack on NATO, what China's Arctic ambitions mean to the United States, how inflation affects middle-class households, and more.

    Jan 6, 2023

  • Airmen load ammunition onto a C-17 Globemaster III bound for Ukraine during a security assistance mission at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, August 9, 2022, photo by Airman 1st Class Cydney Lee/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    Ukraine and the New Two War Construct

    The United States might look at its support of Ukraine as a potential model for future defense strategy. It would require a substantial expansion of the defense industrial base, but it might offer a plausible way to keep American objectives and resources in line without sacrificing too much in either.

    Jan 5, 2023

  • Kim Jong-un conducts a ground test of a high-thrust, solid-fuel engine at the Sohae Satellite Launch Station in Cholsan, North Korea, December 16, 2022, photo by KCNA/Pool/Latin America News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    Japanese 'Counterstrike' May Be Good for ROK Security

    Fully coordinated, the South Korean Kill Chain and Japanese counterstrike capability could be more effective in stopping North Korea from causing damage. And they could be more likely to deter Kim Jong-un, as Pyongyang recognizes that its efforts to militarily dominate the ROK are unlikely to succeed.

    Dec 28, 2022