Warfare and Military Operations

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RAND researchers examine military and national security issues across a broad spectrum — from political dissent and military training to tactical operations and reconstruction efforts — and take a long-term, global perspective. Terrorism, types of warfare, and international intervention are among the many topics RAND explores.

  • A U.S. soldier takes part in a defense exercise with British and Lithuanian soldiers in Mikyciai, Lithuania, June 17, 2017

    Report

    Rethinking the U.S. Approach to Force Planning

    Dec 7, 2017

    The force planning standard used since the end of the Cold War is ill-suited for today. Force planning should focus on modernizing the capabilities and posture of U.S. forces to better enable them to deter and defeat aggression by China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Salafist-jihadi groups.

  • Ferrying South Vietnamese rangers, U.S. helicopters swoop in on a landing zone on the fringe of a pineapple plantation in the Mekong Delta on August 21, 1967

    Report

    Assessing Will to Fight at the Military Unit Level

    Sep 20, 2018

    Will to fight is vital to understanding war, but it is often ignored or misunderstood. A model of unit will to fight that can be applied to ground combat units of any scale can help U.S. military leaders better assess partner and adversary forces and incorporate will to fight in their planning.

Explore Warfare and Military Operations

  • Report

    Assessing Retention and Special and Incentive Pays for Army and Navy Commissioned Officers in the Special Operations Forces

    This report focuses on the effectiveness of monetary incentives, known as special and incentive pays, for U.S. Special Operations Forces commissioned officer retention.

    Feb 18, 2019

  • World map with exclamation points for epicenters for terrorist attack

    Commentary

    A New Framework for Evaluating Counter Violent Extremism Projects

    Gathering evidence in the area of counter violent extremism (CVE) is vital, given the increasing role for CVE interventions in the political and security environment. Evaluations of these interventions can play a role in growing this knowledge, by helping the CVE field itself to develop.

    Feb 15, 2019

  • UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping as King Harald of Norway looks on during a visit to China, October 16, 2018, photo by NTB Scanpix/Heiko Junge via Reuters

    Commentary

    The U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Is an Opportunity for China

    The U.S. withdrawal from Syria could allow Beijing to further assert its role as a key international partner in Syria and, by extension, further its interests in the Middle East. The extent of Sino-Syrian cooperation remains ambiguous but it has reportedly deepened, with China supplying intelligence personnel, strategic advisors, and special forces.

    Feb 15, 2019

  • A woman speaking in a community meeting, photo by Hero Images/Getty Images

    Research Brief

    How to Strengthen Terrorism Prevention Efforts

    Shortfalls in national terrorism prevention efforts have come not only from limited programmatic focus and resource investment, but also from critics seeking to constrain or halt such efforts. The most effective path for the U.S. government would be to support state, local, nongovernmental, and private terrorism prevention efforts rather than building capabilities itself.

    Feb 14, 2019

  • Report

    Practical Terrorism Prevention: Executive Summary

    Researchers examined past U.S. countering violent extremism and terrorism prevention efforts and explored options to strengthen them. This document summarizes findings from the main report.

    Feb 14, 2019

  • Report

    Practical Terrorism Prevention: Reexamining U.S. National Approaches to Addressing the Threat of Ideologically Motivated Violence

    Researchers examined past U.S. countering violent extremism and terrorism prevention efforts and explored options to strengthen them. They found that current capabilities are relatively limited and that future efforts must build trust to succeed.

    Feb 14, 2019

  • News Release

    Terrorism Prevention Programs Need Strengthening If They Are to Be Effective

    National capabilities for terrorism prevention, which refers to options other than traditional law-enforcement action to respond to the risk of individual radicalization to violence, are relatively limited. Most rely on local or non-government efforts, and only a subset receive federal support.

    Feb 14, 2019

  • Donald Trump holds up a photo of a border wall design in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., January 11, 2019

    Commentary

    Terrorists on the Border and Government Secrecy

    Detailed information on how many would-be terrorists may have sought to cross the southern border is being withheld on the grounds that it is sensitive. The refusal of officials to offer a fuller explanation of the numbers illustrates how the continued expansion of secrecy in government is damaging the ability of the public to assess the risk and evaluate the response.

    Feb 13, 2019

  • Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev addresses the first meeting of the Madrid Peace Conference in Madrid, Spain, October 30, 1991

    Commentary

    The Warsaw Summit Is No Madrid

    The peace process begun in Madrid nearly 30 years ago showed promise, but ultimately stalled, and will need rethinking to adapt to today's Middle East. The world could use a worthy successor. The Warsaw summit probably isn't it.

    Feb 13, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Of Bombs and Bureaucrats: Internal Drivers of Nuclear Force Building in China and the United States

    This article examines the domestic influences on US and Chinese nuclear forces. While strategic factors largely drive each side's, underappreciated domestic and organizational factors also influence outcomes.

    Feb 8, 2019

  • President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un walk together before their working lunch during their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018

    Commentary

    Hard to Predict Outcome of Second Trump-Kim Summit

    It is difficult to predict the outcome of the second summit between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump. In September, 2018, Kim offered to fully denuclearize during President Trump's first term. But despite Kim's offer, he continued building nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, according to multiple reports. If Kim decides to keep stalling, serious tensions could follow.

    Feb 6, 2019

  • A map depicting Russian influence over Europe

    Report

    How to Counter Russia's Hostile Measures in Europe

    Russia has a range of tools and methods short of conventional war that it can use to achieve its goals in Europe. There is no way to predict what Russia will do, but it's possible to analyze its motives and opportunities, the means it might employ, and how the United States should respond.

    Jan 28, 2019

  • Syrian residents watch as U.S. troops patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria, November 4, 2018

    Commentary

    Intelligence Losses Pose Large Risks as U.S. Troops Head Home

    Departing theaters such as Syria and Afghanistan carries a host of associated risks, challenges and potential benefits. Leaders would be well served to factor into the debate the importance of U.S. intelligence collection capabilities, its connection to U.S. presence overseas and its role in anticipating current and future threats.

    Jan 24, 2019

  • Report

    Opportunities for European collaboration in armoured vehicles

    RAND Europe examined the scope for collaboration between European states in armoured vehicles (tracked, wheeled and protected transport vehicles) throughout their life-cycle, in support of the European Defence Agency (EDA).

    Jan 23, 2019

  • Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gesture as they hold Hezbollah flags in Marjayoun, Lebanon, May 7, 2018

    Commentary

    Helping Lebanon Succeed Is More Than About Countering Iran

    As tensions increase on the Israeli-Lebanese border the possibility is growing that a confrontation with Iran may move from Syria to Lebanon. For the United States, turning its back on this small but strategically critical country and conflating U.S. interests in Lebanon solely with countering Iran could be short-sighted, and a missed opportunity at a time when the region has few.

    Jan 16, 2019

  • A U.S. flag is seen at a post in Deh Bala district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, after U.S. and Afghan forces cleared Islamic State fighters from the area, July 7, 2018

    Report

    Likely Effects of a Precipitous U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    Winning may not be an option in Afghanistan, but an early departure of U.S. forces without a peace settlement will mean choosing to lose. The result will be the weakening of deterrence and the value of American reassurance elsewhere, an increased terrorist threat, and the possibility of having to return there under worse conditions.

    Jan 16, 2019

  • Beirut Madinati candidates and activists after announcing their list of candidates for the municipality elections in Beirut, Lebanon, April 22, 2016

    Report

    Countering Sectarianism in the Middle East

    Scholars and policymakers have sought to understand what drives sectarianism in the Middle East and its relationship to multiple conflicts. Far less attention has been focused on how communities inoculate themselves from sectarianism or recover from it.

    Jan 14, 2019

  • Beirut Madinati candidates and delegates cheer

    Research Brief

    Middle Eastern Communities Can Resist Sectarianism

    Sectarian violence in the Middle East has been destructive, but it is still the exception rather than the norm. Communities are generally resilient to the worst sectarian impulses. Lessons from Lebanon, Bahrain, Syria, and Iraq show that there are a range of actions that can curb sectarianism.

    Jan 14, 2019

  • Accountability in Cyberspace: The Problem of Attribution

    Multimedia

    How to Achieve Accountability in Cyberspace

    Identifying the responsible party behind malicious cyber incidents is necessary for holding bad actors accountable. But there are many challenges that accompany cyber attribution. Creating an independent, global organization that investigates and publicly assigns blame for major hacks could help.

    Jan 14, 2019

  • News Release

    Middle Eastern Communities Can Resist Sectarianism

    Middle Eastern communities are generally resilient to the worst sectarian impulses and even communities that experience sectarian strife can recover from it. Indeed, at least at the local level, communities can resist the slide toward sectarianism and promote resilience and cross-sectarian cooperation.

    Jan 14, 2019