Military Tactics

RAND has studied issues related to the successful deployment of military forces since 1948. In that time, its studies have addressed tactics varying from nuclear deterrence to terrorism and counterinsurgency.

  • U.S. Marine Corps 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Amphibious Assault Vehicles rush Freshwater Beach during Talisman Sabre 2011 in Australia, on July 19, 2011, photo by Captain Staci Reidinger/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    Two Vignettes: How Might Combat Operations Be Different Under the Information Joint Function?

    RAND researcher Christopher Paul employs storytelling to illustrate two distinct approaches to Joint Combat Operations. While both vignettes result in the expulsion of adversary forces and the restoration of territorial integrity, they take different approaches to kinetic and informational power.

    Oct 8, 2020

  • Battalion of French soldiers of the RSMA marching during a monthly ceremony rewarding the young soldiers in Saint-Paul, LaRéunion, June 28 2017, photo by Gwengoat/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Grand Strategy Is Total: French Gen. Andre Beaufré on the Nuclear Age

    Gen. André Beaufre, the father of contemporary French strategic thought, epitomizes better than anyone the traits that make modern French military theory unusually rich. He is also a key for accessing a rich and distinctly different way of thinking about war with direct applications for today, whether one is pondering Afghanistan or how to deal with China.

    Oct 8, 2020

  • A U.S. military B1B Lancer on the tarmac of Andersen Air Force base, on the island of Guam, August 17, 2017, photo by Joseph Campbell/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan and Dynamic Force Employment

    In April, the United States ended a program that maintained a rotational bomber force to the U.S. territory of Guam. While the removal of a permanent bomber presence in the region has caused some in Japan to worry, U.S. commitment to Japan's defense shows no sign of changing nor does America's deterrent capability.

    Jun 23, 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

  • 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

  • Raphael S. Cohen discusses Russia’s economic, political, and military vulnerabilities and anxieties in an overview of a September 5th congressional briefing.

    Multimedia

    Extending Russia

    What policies could the United States adopt to stress Russia’s military, its economy, or the regime’s political standing at home and abroad? In this congressional briefing summary, former Ambassador James Dobbins, Raphael Cohen, and Howard Shatz discuss Russia’s economic, political, and military vulnerabilities and anxieties; nonviolent, cost-imposing options that the United States and its allies could pursue to stress Russia; and the costs, benefits, and implications of those options.

    Sep 5, 2019

  • U.S. Army Soldiers conduct actions on an objective during a training scenario at the Asymmetric Warfare Training Center, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Feb. 23, 2018, photo by St. Randis Monroe/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Urban Legend: Is Combat in Cities Really Inevitable?

    Future combat will take place in dense urban areas and likely in megacities. These are the new “truths” that are taking hold in the U.S. military. But before going all-in on optimizing for urban operations, the U.S. military should take a deep breath and think carefully about future operations within the context of the National Defense Strategy.

    May 7, 2019

  • News Release

    News Release

    Nonviolent Ways the United States Could Exploit Russian Vulnerabilities

    Russia's use of information warfare and its conventional military arsenal make it a formidable opponent, but the state also has significant weaknesses that could be exploited. A range of nonviolent measures could stress Russia's military, its economy, and the regime's political standing at home and abroad.

    Apr 24, 2019

  • Members of the Texas Army and Air National Guard support Exercise Cyber Shield 17 at Camp Williams, Utah, May 2, 2017, photo by Col. Wayde Minami/U.S. Air National Guard

    Commentary

    Is It Time to Abandon the Term Information Operations?

    Operations in the information environment will be a critical part of future joint force operations and should be baked in to those operations as a fully valued tool in commanders' combined arms toolboxes. Reaching that goal will require greater acceptance and understanding of information across the joint force, new structures for information forces, and the evolution of how operations in the information environment are handled within the staff.

    Mar 13, 2019

  • Sylvie Lanteaume, Cortney Weinbaum, Elsa B. Kania, and Stacie Pettyjohn discuss "Technology as a Battlefield Game Changer” at the 2018 Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security.

    Multimedia

    The Role of Multi-Domain Operations

    As part of a panel on “Technology as a Battlefield Game Changer” at the 2018 Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security, Stacie Pettyjohn explains the concept of multi-domain operations as a way to penetrate Chinese and Russian anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) networks and to deter or defeat aggression.

    Jan 1, 2019

  • Detachment of Americans leave for the front, Le Havre, France, July 12, 1918

    Commentary

    How the U.S. Military Learned to Learn in World War I: Lessons from the American Expeditionary Forces

    The U.S. military generally believes it has little to learn from its allies. But during World War I, the more open the Americans were to their allies’ wisdom, the better they fought and the less they suffered.

    Aug 22, 2018

  • Air Force Maj. Travis Tucker, right, explains an AC-130U Spooky gunship’s weapons systems to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a mission orientation flight at Hurlburt Field, Florida, Oct. 19, 2016

    Commentary

    Improving the Effectiveness of Air Force Squadron Commanders

    U.S. Air Force commanders around the world understand their responsibilities. But they believe that many unrecognized duties interfere with mission performance. They are generally prepared by professional education and career progression to fulfill their responsibilities, but they could use more instruction on how to command.

    May 23, 2018

  • China Coast Guard vessels at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, April 5, 2017

    Commentary

    China Welcomes Its Newest Armed Force: The Coast Guard

    China's recent move to transfer responsibility for the China Coast Guard to the People's Armed Police will have major symbolic implications for China's presence in disputed waters. It can no longer claim its presence in the South China Sea is purely civilian in nature.

    Apr 4, 2018

  • Staff Sgt. Auguste Archer, 35th Communications Squadron cyber security technician, uses a program to monitor hacker attempts across the world

    Commentary

    Invisible Doomsday Machines: The Challenge of Clandestine Capabilities and Deterrence

    As the United States increasingly contemplates acquiring clandestine capabilities for deterrence and warfighting, it should consider rethinking its approach to managing these programs. A unified management approach would go a great distance toward meeting the challenges of these capabilities.

    Dec 15, 2017

  • Troops from the Malian Armed Forces and French soldiers conduct a joint patrol during the regional anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane in Inaloglog, Mali, October 17, 2017.

    Commentary

    Mali Is France's Afghanistan, but with a Difference

    At first glance the comparison between the French military operations in Mali and America’s involvement in Afghanistan is compelling, and in some important ways, accurate. It also presents some fundamental differences that give reason for optimism in France.

    Dec 1, 2017

  • Report

    Report

    Supporting Persistent and Networked Special Operations Forces (SOF) Operations: Insights from Forward-Deployed SOF Personnel

    RAND Corporation researchers identified three key operational challenges that forward-deployed personnel have encountered and then assessed the extent to which persistent, networked, and distributed operations can mitigate these challenges.

    Oct 16, 2017

  • Wargaming at the Naval Postgraduate School

    Commentary

    Adding Shots on Target: Wargaming Beyond the Game

    Figuring out what the future may look like—and what concepts and technology we should invest in now to prepare—is hard. How can the wargaming community build a cycle of research to help understand what these paths might be?

    Oct 9, 2017

  • Belgian army Special Forces during a military exercise organised by the European Defence Agency at Florennes airbase, Belgium, November 30, 2016

    Commentary

    The Lack of Clarity Over Medical Support for Light Footprint Operations and How It Could Be Solved

    Early identification and planning for medical support for EU-led military operations are vital to saving lives, treating injuries and keeping personnel healthy. Common standards would ensure high-quality and consistent medical support regardless of which country is providing it.

    Sep 19, 2017

  • The autonomous ship "Sea Hunter" is shown docked in Portland, Oregon before its christening ceremony April 7, 2016

    Commentary

    Killer Robots: Moral Concerns vs. Military Advantages

    The U.S. military should balance Americans' ethical concerns over computers making life and death decisions with the need to maintain an edge in the face of rapid advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning across the globe.

    Nov 4, 2016

  • Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe's Charlie Company show Ukrainian Marines and National Guard soldiers the proper procedures for clearing a room, September 16, 2014

    Commentary

    It's Getting Harder to Define Military Readiness. Here's What to Do About It.

    Focusing on one type of threat or the other — whether state or non-state in its general nature — is becoming a less tenable option as the United States considers how to assess and improve its military readiness.

    Jul 12, 2016