Operational Readiness

Organizing, training, and equipping armed forces for combat is essential to ensure their success in the field. RAND research provides military decisionmakers with information and analyses to implement effective support, training, and acquisition policies that ensure the highest level of operational readiness, even in the face of increasingly fluid combat environments.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia September 12, 2018

    Commentary

    Are We Truly Prepared for a War with Russia or China?

    The U.S. Department of Defense will likely need a strategy to overcome a war with either Russia or China. As threats from Moscow and Beijing grow, what can the United States do now to prepare for major conflict?

    Oct 9, 2018

  • The Izumo warship moored at the harbor of the Japan United Marine shipyard in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, March 25, 2015

    Commentary

    Does Japan Need an Aircraft Carrier?

    Japan has not possessed an aircraft carrier in more than 70 years. But that may soon change as the Japanese government is debating retrofitting a class of destroyers to turn them into aircraft carriers. Considering both operational needs and resources limitations, does an aircraft carrier for Japan make sense?

    Oct 5, 2018

  • Marines unload from an MV-22B Osprey at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, June 4, 2018

    Report

    Preparing for Post-ISIL Access Challenges

    As the conflict against ISIL enters a new phase, a stronger basing posture against adversary networks in and around Syria and the Sinai Peninsula is needed. U.S. Central Command must plan for the possibility of losing access to Iraqi bases and airspace. An interactive tool can help identify robust basing options.

    Sep 10, 2018

  • Coalition special forces soldier in Chak district, Wardak province, Afghanistan

    Brochure

    RAND Arroyo Center Annual Report 2017-2018

    This RAND Arroyo Center report presents research-based insights and courses of action to help the U.S. Army meet five of its highest priorities.

    Aug 29, 2018

  • Refueling operations in a KC-135 Stratotanker

    Report

    Is the USAF Flying Force Large Enough? Assessing Capacity Demands in Four Alternative Futures

    This report draws on historical data to quantify gaps in the U.S. Air Force's capacity to meet potential future demands.

    Aug 28, 2018

  • The Missile Defense Agency conducts the first intercept flight test of a land-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system from the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex in Kauai, Hawaii, December 10, 2015

    Commentary

    Japan's Aegis Ashore Defense System

    For nearly 20 years, Japan has used the North Korea threat as a legitimate rationale to build its missile defense system and cooperate closely with the U.S. in its development. This argument remains as true today as it was before the flurry of regional diplomacy began earlier this year.

    Aug 20, 2018

  • Bridge stretching across the Vistula River during the joint NATO exercise Anakonda 2016, near Chelmno, Poland, June 7-17, 2016

    Commentary

    Exploring the Allied Decisions on Military Mobility in Europe

    Debates about defense expenditure and concerns over NATO unity overshadowed decisions on defense and deterrence in Europe made during the recent NATO summit and European Council meetings. Both events brought significant and tangible conclusions with potential impacts on defense, deterrence, and readiness in Europe.

    Jul 27, 2018

  • Soldiers walk to their fuel trucks after refueling a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at a forward area refueling point during a readiness training exercise at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, July 12, 2018.

    Commentary

    Reshaping U.S. Military Forces: Getting the Process Right

    War gaming and analysis show that American forces face serious operational challenges. What steps could be taken to ensure the United States can defeat aggression by its greatest adversaries?

    Jul 20, 2018

  • Report

    Evaluating an Operator Physical Fitness Test Prototype for Tactical Air Control Party and Air Liaison Officers: A Preliminary Analysis of Test Implementation

    This report provides a preliminary evaluation effort of the implementation of the physical tests and standards being adopted by the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party and Air Liaison Officer career fields.

    Jul 11, 2018

  • Report

    Establishing Gender-Neutral Physical Standards for Ground Combat Occupations: Volume 1. A Review of Best-Practice Methods

    This report identifies and describes the best-practice methodologies for establishing valid, gender-neutral standards for physically demanding military jobs.

    Jun 19, 2018

  • Report

    Establishing Gender-Neutral Physical Standards for Ground Combat Occupations: Volume 2. A Review of the Military Services' Methods

    This report (Volume 2) provides results of RAND's work reviewing and evaluating the U.S. military services' approaches to setting gender-neutral physical standards for combat occupations, using best practices described in Volume 1 as a framework.

    Jun 19, 2018

  • Construction Electrician 3rd Class Justin Vizcarrondo uses an entrenching tool to dig a hasty scrape during field combat training operations, February 9, 2003

    Commentary

    Consider The E-Tool

    We generally trust the entrenchment tool. In a peacetime hike, we might only need a polycarbonate trowel, but in a future war, we might really need full-size picks and shovels. However ingeniously designed, two pounds of metal origami cannot replace a full-size pick and a shovel.

    Jun 12, 2018

  • Report

    Enhancing Air Force Materiel Command Support to the Warfighter

    This analysis recommends ways the Air Force Materiel Command and its centers, specifically the Air Force Sustainment Center (AFSC) and the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (AFIMSC), can adapt and improve support to the warfighter.

    Jun 7, 2018

  • Four F-15E Strike Eagles fly in formation above the Nevada Test and Training Range June 21, 2011

    Commentary

    The More Things Change: Explaining Continuity in Defense Strategy

    United States presidential administrations from Clinton to Trump have championed different approaches to military and defense policy. The verbiage of the National Defense Strategy, however, remains relatively the same and the numbers reflect more incremental rather than monumental shifts.

    Apr 25, 2018

  • Silhouetted soldiers on patrol at sunset

    Commentary

    On RAND's Research Findings Regarding Transgender Military Personnel Policy

    In September 2015, the Department of Defense asked RAND to initiate a study on the implications of allowing transgender personnel to serve openly. Since its publication, the research has been widely viewed as the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis on this topic. RAND stands by the study's research approach, analysis, and findings.

    Mar 27, 2018

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviews the honor guard before a meeting with Japan Self-Defense Force's senior members at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, September 11, 2017

    Commentary

    Revising Japan's Peace Constitution: Much Ado About Nothing

    Despite Abe’s legislative majority, it is unclear whether he has enough political capital to convince the public of the need for a constitutional revision on the Self-Defense Force. Japan’s security policies are heavily constrained by legal and normative constraints and Abe’s plan would likely do little more than codify the status quo.

    Mar 21, 2018

  • A C-130J Super Hercules aircraft flies over a formation of Airmen during a ceremony to remember veterans of World War II on the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Picauville, France, June 6, 2014

    Commentary

    The Chairman the Pentagon Needs

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford says that to fight and win 21st century wars, the department should find a way to globally integrate below the secretary of defense. To do so, the chairman's role would have to expand to allow him to advise the secretary on the allocation and transfer of forces for transregional, multi-functional, and multi-domain operations.

    Jan 5, 2018

  • A Japan Self-Defense Forces soldier (L) talks with a U.S. Forces soldier during a drill to mobilise JSDF's PAC-3 missile unit in response to a recent missile launch by North Korea, at U.S. Air Force Yokota Air Base in Fussa on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan, August 29, 2017

    Commentary

    Why Japan Needs Long-Range Strike Capabilities

    Japan's pacifist constitution allows it to exercise force only when its survival is threatened and there are no other means to repel the attack. But North Korea's advancing military capabilities have drastically changed the threat environment. Japan no longer has the luxury to be complacent about its security threats.

    Oct 23, 2017

  • First Sgt. Raquel Steckman, with the 374th Engineer Company (Sapper), headquartered in Concord, California, jokes with her Soldiers before the start of formation.

    Commentary

    Military Power Is All About People: A Return to Personnel Policy

    Ensuring the strength of U.S. armed forces is critical to U.S. national security and the key source of strength is its people. True investment in personnel is a long-term legacy and an investment worthy of attention and policy debate to ensure the United States continues to recruit and retain the most effective fighting force in the world.

    Jul 27, 2017

  • Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers take part in an annual training session near Mount Fuji at Higashifuji training field in Gotemba, west of Tokyo, August 25, 2016

    Commentary

    Giving Japan a Military

    After 70 years, Japan may finally be on the cusp of acquiring its own military. Legally, that is. Prime Minister Abe has proposed a change to Japan's constitution to give legal standing to the Self-Defense Forces, and it's long overdue.

    Jun 20, 2017