Strategy and Tactics

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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.

  • Russian soldiers man a checkpoint near the Georgian village of Kekhvi in breakaway South Ossetia, August 21, 2008, photo by Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

    Report

    What Drives U.S. Adversaries to Use Military Forces Abroad?

    Sep 27, 2021

    Where, how, and how often have China, Russia, and Iran intervened militarily since 1946? A review of their behavior and that of other U.S. adversaries identifies why they initiated military interventions and why they might do so in the future.

  • 3D illustration of a conceptual maze. Shortcut between points A and B or finding the shortest path concept, photo by livier Le Moal/Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Report

    Leveraging Complexity in Great-Power Competition and Warfare: Volume I

    Aug 26, 2021

    The United States should aim to minimize the element of complexity for itself while maximizing it for its adversary in great-power competition and warfare. But what does complexity mean in an Air Force context? And how can it be used as a method of attack?

Explore Military Strategy

  • Kim Jong-un speaks to officials at the Defence Development Exhibition, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released on October 12, 2021, photo by KCNA via Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korea's 'Business as Usual' Missile Provocations

    North Korea has revved up its cycle of missile provocations, its go-to method of securing leverage against the United States and South Korea in the on-again off-again nuclear negotiations. How will the United States and South Korea choose to respond?

    Oct 14, 2021

  • Panellists (l-r) Gen. Charles Flynn, Jennifer Moroney, Michael Mazarr, and Jennifer Kavanagh in a video still from the event, photo by RAND Corporation

    Blog

    Gen. Charles Flynn Says Army Has Crucial Role in the Pacific Theater

    What is the U.S. Army's role in an oceanic theater that spans half the globe, where China increasingly asserts itself for strategic advantage? Gen. Charles A. Flynn, head of the U.S. Army Pacific, discussed this and other topics related to the Army's role in the Pacific theater at a recent event at RAND.

    Oct 13, 2021

  • Blog

    Four-Day School Weeks, Domestic Terrorism, North Korea: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the trade-offs of a four-day school week, how to counter domestic violent extremism, racial disparities in who is convicted of more-serious speeding charges, and more.

    Oct 8, 2021

  • Brochure

    Brochure

    Select RAND Research on China: 1999-2019

    This volume is an important resource for anyone who is interested in gaining an informed understanding of China, a major strategic competitor of the United States in the economic, technological, diplomatic, and security realms.

    Oct 7, 2021

  • Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division board a U.S. Air Force C-17 at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 30th, 2021, photo by Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett, 82nd Airborne Public Affairs/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    The Big Unanswered Question of the Afghanistan War

    The United States' war in Afghanistan may be over, but the debate over the legacy of America's longest war has just begun. The U.S. defeat raises many questions. For the future of American defense strategy, one big question perhaps stands out above all: Does the United States still have the grit necessary to fight and win long wars?

    Oct 4, 2021

  • Blog

    Supporting Undocumented and Asylum-Seeking Children, L.A. Housing, Veterans: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on educating and supporting undocumented and asylum-seeking children in U.S. schools, what drives America's adversaries to use military forces, and measuring the compounding effects of racism.

    Oct 1, 2021

  • Russian soldiers aboard an armoured vehicle in western Georgia in AUgust of 2008

    Report

    Russia's Military Interventions: Patterns, Drivers, and Signposts

    Despite Russia's relatively small global economic footprint, it has engaged in more interventions than any other U.S. competitor since 1991. In this report, the authors assess when, where, and why Russia conducts military interventions.

    Sep 27, 2021

  • Naval personnel from China's base in Djibouti, participate in a military parade in Djibouti City

    Report

    China's Military Interventions: Patterns, Drivers, and Signposts

    China has undertaken two broad types of military interventions in its post-1949 history. The authors assess which one of two patterns is likely to predominate in China's future and on what factors the answer to this question is likely to depend.

    Sep 27, 2021

  • An Iranian Army soldier gestures during an exercise in Fars province in 2020

    Report

    Iran's Military Interventions: Patterns, Drivers, and Signposts

    In this report, the authors assess when, where, why, and how Iran conducts military interventions and identify key signposts of Iranian military interventions that can be used as early warning indicators for U.S. military planners.

    Sep 27, 2021

  • Two U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft, assigned to the 421st Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, right, fly in formation with two Finnish F-18 Hornets, left, while en route to Turku, Finland, June 13, 2019, photo by Airman 1st Class Jovante Johnson

    Report

    Enhancing US-Finnish and regional defence cooperation: An exploratory analysis

    This study examines Finland's defence posture and the transatlantic dimensions of Finnish security policy in the context of a potential crisis in the Nordic-Baltic region.

    Sep 24, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    An Analysis of Alternative Approaches to Measuring Multinational Interoperability: Early Development of the Army Interoperability Measurement System (AIMS)

    Researchers conducted an analysis of alternatives of interoperability measurement systems to support the U.S. Army in achieving interoperability with partners. Researchers identified a new approach, the Army Interoperability Measurement System.

    Sep 22, 2021

  • Russian paratroopers line up to board a transport plane during Zapad-2021 military exercises at an aerodrome in Kaliningrad Region, Russia, September 13, 2021, photo by Vitaly Nevar/Reuters

    Commentary

    Moscow Hesitated in Poland—Will It in Belarus?

    Forty years ago, Russia used a major military exercise in part to scare Poland's communist leaders into cracking down on protesters. A similar Russian exercise now could be aimed in part at pressuring Belarus. If so, the West could respond in several ways.

    Sep 13, 2021

  • A NATO helicopter flies over the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 29, 2020, photo by Omar Sobhani/Reuters

    Commentary

    Lessons from Afghanistan

    The British invaded Afghanistan multiple times from 1839 to 1919. These wars offer wider context for understanding America's intervention in that same nation—and its ultimate failure.

    Sep 3, 2021

  • Navy Cmdr. Ryan T. Easterday, commanding officer of the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, observes from the bridge wing as the ship sails in the South China Sea, Oct. 20, 2020, photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Markus Castaneda/U.S. Department of Defense

    Commentary

    Reinforcing U.S. Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific After the Fall of Afghanistan

    China and North Korea are seizing on the U.S. departure from Afghanistan to press their own political warfare messages. What can the United States do to mitigate the impact of the Taliban takeover on America's interests in the Indo-Pacific?

    Sep 3, 2021

  • F-35 Lightning II approaching with afterburner on and condensation trails at the wings tip, photo by rancho_runner/Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Report

    Leveraging Complexity in Great-Power Competition and Warfare: Volume II

    The Air Force should apply a complexity lens through which to review ongoing and future efforts to best leverage complexity to U.S. decision advantage. The technical companion to an initial exploration includes a literature review and a user manual.

    Aug 26, 2021

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at Patriot Congress and Exhibition Centre in the Moscow Region, Russia, August 23, 2021, photo by Ramil Sitdikov/Kremlin via Reuters

    Commentary

    After Afghanistan, Could Russia Misjudge America?

    Over the years, the United States has been humbled abroad more than once but bounced back. Now, as it withdraws from Afghanistan, might Russia see the United States as defeated and vulnerable to pressure? This could be an error.

    Aug 26, 2021

  • A U.S. Marine escorts Department of State personnel to be processed for evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15, 2021, photo by Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Marines via Reuters

    Commentary

    Afghanistan Withdrawal Says Little About U.S. Commitments Elsewhere

    The United States is a nation which sees that it is in its vital interest to deter autocrats from adventurism and challenges to the world order. Drawing lessons from the narrow case of Afghanistan to speak about broad U.S. resolve or credibility comes with an inherent risk that adversaries may choose to ignore at their own peril.

    Aug 25, 2021

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with the Russian Security Council

    Report

    Russian Grand Strategy: Rhetoric and Reality

    What is Russia's declared grand strategy? How do its actions and resource decisions match its declarations? The authors of this report offer answers to these questions and suggest implications for U.S. policymakers.

    Aug 16, 2021