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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  • Connections drawn over a world map

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'The Chessboard and the Web,' by Anne-Marie Slaughter

    Few quests in international relations scholarship are as imperative and vexing as that of rethinking power — how it is defined, who wields which types, and what strategies different actors pursue to accumulate it. Slaughter's new book is a significant contribution to that end.

    Sep 22, 2017

  • A French soldier in a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III en route to Mali to fight off extremists that have taken control of much of Northern Mali, January 20, 2013

    Commentary

    What a 1963 Novel Tells Us About the French Army, Mission Command, and the Romance of the Indochina War

    The novel La 317e Section (The 317th Platoon) informs and reflects an operating style rooted in the French Army's collective memory of the colonial wars. Colonial operations tended to be low-budget, small-footprint missions that placed junior officers in positions of considerable authority and responsibility. Service promised quick glory but was also more dangerous.

    Sep 20, 2017

  • A Chinese military plane H-6 bomber flies over the Pacific October 27, 2013

    Commentary

    Chinese Bomber Flights Around Taiwan: For What Purpose?

    Recent bomber flights near Taiwan represent the most concerted training regimen yet aimed at improving Chinese airpower. China seeks to enhance the PLA Air Force's capabilities and signal Beijing's will to defend its territorial claims against the U.S. and its regional allies and partners, especially Taiwan and Japan.

    Sep 13, 2017

  • Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service soldiers perform reloading drills with their M-4 rifles during refit training near Baghdad, Iraq, July 13, 2016

    Commentary

    Managing Chaos in an Era of Great Power Competition

    As Washington policymakers seek a new strategic course, U.S. national security strategy should not neglect the importance of competition short of armed conflict. A U.S. strategy that incorporates this perspective from the beginning could manage chaos at a reasonable cost.

    Sep 5, 2017

  • Daenerys Targaryen rides her dragon into battle in a scene from the 'Spoils of War' episode of 'Game of Thrones'

    Commentary

    'Game of Thrones' Dragons, Nuclear Weapons, and Winning Whatever the Cost

    HBO's hit series “Game of Thrones” may be fantasy, but it explores many challenges that are familiar to real-world leaders. The military use of dragons and the dilemma these beasts pose is one recent example.

    Aug 24, 2017

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif greets United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, July 17, 2017

    Commentary

    How We Can Keep Iran from Becoming the Next North Korea

    The U.S. brokered an agreement to constrain North Korea's nuclear program 25 years ago but hard-liners abandoned it with vague intentions of coercing the North into something better. They never did, and now a runaway North Korean program poses real danger. This offers a powerful reason to preserve the Iranian nuclear deal.

    Aug 22, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump announces his strategy for the war in Afghanistan during an address to the nation from Fort Myer, Virginia, August 21, 2017

    Commentary

    Trump's New Afghanistan Strategy: Governing from the Center?

    The president has embraced a national security establishment strategy for Afghanistan with a veneer that does not alter its essence. The result is likely to disappoint some of his supporters and to be criticized by his opponents, but it will also secure a measure of bipartisan support.

    Aug 22, 2017

  • Military parade in Pyongyang, October 2015

    Essay

    Understanding North Korea

    How should the U.S. respond to North Korea's provocative behavior? Even the best military options could be cataclysmically bad, but there are nonmilitary options to convince Kim Jong Un that the costs of his provocations outweigh any benefits.

    Aug 18, 2017

  • Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) are driven during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017

    Commentary

    The North Korea Standoff: Have We Been Here Before?

    How the United States responded to China's nuclear weapons program last century can provide lessons for today's debate about North Korea. For instance, the conclusion that the only option is deterrence is still sound.

    Aug 14, 2017

  • A passerby walks past a street monitor showing news of North Korea's fresh threat in Tokyo, Japan, August 9, 2017

    Commentary

    Contain, Deter, Transform: A Winning Strategy on North Korea

    North Korea's missile tests and reported progress in nuclear warhead design have produced a volatile new urgency in U.S. policy. Contain, deter, and transform isn't a radical solution, but it's one that has worked before. This approach could preserve U.S. interests while avoiding war.

    Aug 9, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2017

    Report

    What Is Russia's Strategy in the Middle East?

    Russia's regional strategy is an approach of ways and means, where broad principles take the place of prescribed ends. Moscow is constantly seeking to improve its short-term economic, military, and political advantages.

    Aug 7, 2017

  • The U.S. Capitol building illuminated at night in Washington, D.C.

    Blog

    RAND's Summer Reading List for Congress

    Hill staffers can make the most of the Congressional recess with this list of must-read research and commentary on the policy issues they will be addressing this fall.

    Aug 4, 2017

  • Tool

    Assessing Impact to Inform Decisions: A Toolkit on Measures for Policymakers

    This toolkit provides a very brief overview of how to identify concepts that should be measured by policymakers, how to evaluate measures, and how to identify new measures that can contribute to better-informed decisions, plans, and assessments.

    Jul 25, 2017

  • Multimedia

    North Korea's Continuous Provocations

    In this July 17th, 2017 congressional briefing, Bruce W. Bennett, Senior International/Defense Researcher, discusses North Korea's nuclear missile programs, its changing relationship with China, and implications for U.S. policy.

    Jul 17, 2017

  • People watch a huge screen showing the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by KCNA, July 5, 2017.

    Commentary

    A Surgical Strike Against North Korea? Not a Viable Option

    North Korea's July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit American soil has renewed talk of military intervention. But an effective limited military strike with minimal collateral damage and no escalation simply won't work.

    Jul 14, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks to journalists following a live nationwide broadcast in Moscow, June 15, 2017

    Report

    Strengthening Strategic Stability with Russia

    Strategic stability between the United States and Russia is eroding, but the two countries still share a deep interest in avoiding nuclear war. Strengthening stability will be challenging. Meaningful progress will require courage and sacrifices on both sides.

    Jul 7, 2017

  • China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a Security Council meeting on the situation in North Korea at the United Nations, New York City, April 28, 2017

    Commentary

    How China Could Truly Rein in North Korea

    China has key pressure points at its disposal to help deter North Korea from nuclear activities. It could cut off oil supplies or limit other trade, or crack down on illicit finance networks as many of the banks laundering money for the regime are in China. It could also stop shielding Pyongyang at the UN.

    Jun 20, 2017

  • War veterans and commanding officers in a military parade celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the truce of the Korean War, in Pyongyang, August 3, 2013

    Commentary

    End the Korean War, Finally

    Sixty-four years ago, the Korean War was suspended by a cease-fire. A peace treaty was never signed. Standing ready to formally end this old war may be the key to dismantling North Korea's nuclear program without starting a new one.

    Jun 8, 2017

  • U.S. Army Special Forces members train Iraqi fighters from Hashid Shaabi at Makhmur camp in Iraq, December 11, 2016

    Commentary

    SOF's Evolving Role: Warfare 'By, With, and Through' Local Forces

    U.S. special operations forces are not providing the muscle of the frontline combat troops fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Instead, they are providing meaningful support to the various indigenous forces. If they succeed, this model could become a standard option in the U.S. military playbook.

    May 9, 2017

  • Testimony

    Deterring Russian Aggression in the Baltic States: What it Takes to Win: Addendum

    Document submitted April 17, 2017, as an addendum to testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces on March 1, 2017.

    May 2, 2017