Military Tactics

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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.

  • The Embarked Security Team (EST) on Board USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7), along with Sailors from Coastal Riverine Squadron THREE's (CRS-3) boarded on Riverine Command Boats (RCBs), defend the vessel using dazzler non-lethal weapon and blank rounds during a simulated attack as it departs to support ships during Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, comprising over 40 ships and submarines and over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th iteration in the series that began in 1971 and is the world's largest international maritime exercise, photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Martin Wright/U.S. Navy

    Report

    How to Effectively Assess the Impact of Non-Lethal Weapons as Intermediate Force Capabilities

    The U.S Department of Defense needs to be able to assess the tactical, operational, and strategic impact of non-lethal weapons to inform how and when they should be used and their integration into overall DoD capabilities. How do non-lethal weapons contribute to overarching DoD goals?

    Jan 18, 2022

  • Residents of Raqqa gather in the morning to drink tea after they had been allowed back to inspect their homes, photo by Aboud Hamam

    Essay

    Civilian Casualties: Lessons from the Battle for Raqqa

    The United States' emphasis on minimizing civilian harm in Raqqa, Syria, was quite clear and strong up and down the chain of command. But the way in which the U.S. military waged war in Raqqa too often undercut that commitment. The Pentagon asked RAND to find out what happened.

    Jul 1, 2022

Explore Military Tactics

  • 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

  • Artificial intelligence concept of eye with overlay of military helicopter and submarine, images by 4X-image/Getty Images; design by Jessica Arana/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Thinking Machines Will Change Future Warfare

    Until now, deterrence has been about humans trying to dissuade other humans from doing something. But what if the thinking is done by AI and autonomous systems? A wargame explored what happens to deterrence when decisions can be made at machine speeds and when states can put fewer human lives at risk.

    Jan 27, 2020

  • Brochure

    Brochure

    RAND Arroyo Center Annual Report 2018-2019

    This Annual Report illustrates the depth and breadth of the research conducted for the Army in fiscal year 2019.

    Dec 4, 2019

  • 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

  • Report

    Report

    Distributed Operations in a Contested Environment: Implications for USAF Force Presentation

    This report's authors identify capabilities the Air Force needs to carry out distributed operations in a contested environment. They then assess whether the current force presentation model can provide such capabilities.

    Jul 17, 2019

  • A helicopter lands during the trident juncture exercise in the Netherlands

    Report

    NATO's Amphibious Forces: Command and Control of a Multibrigade Alliance Task Force

    At the request of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, RAND researchers facilitated three wargaming events exploring how to leverage and enhance the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)'s existing amphibious capacity by organizing extant national forces into a coherent multibrigade command and control (C2) structure.

    Jun 27, 2019

  • Report

    Report

    OCEANS 17 Tabletop Exercise: Findings and Recommendations

    In December 2017, the RAND Corporation conducted a tabletop exercise on air operations across the boundaries between geographic combatant commands. This report describes the exercise's design, key insights from our analysis, and recommendations.

    May 9, 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

  • A game of chess between Russia and the United States, image by Petrik/Adobe Stock; design by Pete Soriano/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Extending Russia: Competing for Advantageous Ground

    The United States is locked in a great-power competition with Russia. What are Russia's greatest anxieties and vulnerabilities? How might the United States exploit these vulnerabilities? And what are the potential costs and risks of doing so?

    Apr 24, 2019

  • Red Square in Moscow, Russia, photo by mnn/Adobe Stock

    Research Brief

    Nonviolent Ways the United States Could Exploit Russian Vulnerabilities

    Despite its vulnerabilities and anxieties, Russia remains a formidable opponent in a few key domains. What non-violent, cost-imposing measures could the United States pursue to stress Russia's economy, its military, and the regime's political standing at home and abroad?

    Apr 24, 2019

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    The Consolidation of Political Power in China Under Xi Jinping: Implications for the PLA and Domestic Security Forces: Addendum

    Document submitted April 11, 2019, as an addendum to testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on February 7, 2019.

    Apr 11, 2019

  • Silhouette of soldiers with military vehicles, photo by veneratio/Adobe Stock

    Report

    What Makes U.S. Military Interventions Successful?

    An analysis of 145 U.S. military interventions identifies the factors that have made them more or less successful at achieving their political objectives. They were successful 63 percent of the time, but levels of success have declined over time as the United States has pursued more ambitious goals. Before intervening, planners should carefully match strategy with political objectives.

    Apr 1, 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

  • Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing about Defense Department readiness September 15, 2016, in Washington, D.C., photo by Scott M. Ash/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Culture and Competition Among the U.S. Military Services

    The personalities of U.S. military services are alive and well. Their unique cultures impact how they compete for resources, authorities, access, and influence. And their competition on the bureaucratic battlefield changes as the environment changes. How might the services react to a sudden change in resource levels or region of focus?

    Feb 25, 2019

  • China's President Xi Jinping (C) meets with Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, August 30, 2018

    Testimony

    The Consolidation of Political Power in China Under Xi Jinping

    China has experienced a striking consolidation of power under President Xi Jinping. Three trends have affected the People's Liberation Army and have implications for China's domestic security forces. What considerations should U.S. defense planners and officials account for and monitor?

    Feb 7, 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.

    Dec 31, 2018

  • A world map with digital infographics

    Report

    What Deters and Why

    What must the United States do to deter potential aggressors from attacking allies or other countries in large-scale conventional conflicts? Managing an adversary's motives is the key first step.

    Nov 20, 2018

  • Report

    Report

    Improving C2 and Situational Awareness for Operations in and Through the Information Environment

    Every military activity has informational aspects, but the information environment (IE) is not well integrated into military planning, doctrine, or processes. Better understanding of the IE will improve command and control and situational awareness.

    Nov 1, 2018

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Requirements for Better C2 and Situational Awareness of the Information Environment

    Every military activity has informational aspects, but the information environment (IE) is not well integrated into military planning, doctrine, or processes. Better understanding of the IE will improve command and control and situational awareness.

    Nov 1, 2018