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.

  • Riflemen compete in the Lithuanian Best Infantry Squad Competition at Rukla Training Area, Lithuania, August 24, 2017, photo by Lithuanian Land Forces

    Research Brief

    Why Understanding 'Will to Fight' Is Crucial

    Sep 13, 2019

    Arguably, will to fight is the most important factor in war. The best technology in the world is useless without the force of will to use it and to keep using it even as casualties mount and unexpected calamities arise. Ignoring will to fight can contribute to tactical or even strategic defeat.

  • A U.S. Army medical helicopter flies over the Army's 3rd Infantry division's convoy on its push towards Baghdad, Iraq, April 3, 2003, photo by Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

    Report

    Lessons Learned from the Battle for Baghdad

    Jun 12, 2019

    A review of the U.S. Army's efforts in the Iraq War, especially in Baghdad, offers insights and recommendations that could help leaders avoid the same mistakes in future conflicts. One important lesson is that DoD war plans need to include actions to ensure long-term stability.

Explore Warfare and Military Operations

  • Tool

    A Modeling Framework for Optimizing U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilot Access to Advanced Training Ranges

    This tool presents the technical details of an optimization model for the U.S. Air Force to analyze the potential effectiveness of different combinations of range upgrades and squadron restationing to improve access to advanced ranges.

    Sep 24, 2020

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    The American Jihad Was a Failure. For Those Who Joined, It Was a Path to Destruction

    To keep the jihad going after 9/11, al Qaeda exhorted homegrown terrorists to take up arms in the United States. ISIS later made similar appeals. These calls to arms yielded some plots and a few attacks, but overall, the American jihad was a failure.

    Sep 23, 2020

  • Report

    The Effect of Blast-Related Burn Injuries from Prolonged Field Care to Rehabilitation and Resilience: A Review of the Scientific Literature

    Researchers reviewed literature about blast-related burn injury, which is common among service members and is associated with infection, disability, military discharge, and mortality. Further research is needed on burn prevention and field care.

    Sep 21, 2020

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in discussion with Ted Harshberger, director of RAND Project AIR FORCE

    Multimedia

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper Visits RAND

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper visited RAND's Santa Monica headquarters on September 16, 2020. Secretary Esper emphasized the importance of deterring China and the role of the U.S. defense industrial base.

    Sep 16, 2020

  • Osama bin Laden (L) sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a secret location in Afghanistan, November 10, 2001, photo by Hamid Mir/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is Ayman al-Zawahiri Really the Future of Al-Qaida?

    Nineteen years after 9/11, al Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has yet to achieve the household notoriety evoked by his immediate predecessor, Osama bin Laden. But even though Zawahiri has conjured less of a personality cult, al Qaida's current leader is just as dangerous to the United States as its old one.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Silhouette of several militants with rifles, photo by zabelin/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Are Counter Violent Extremism Interventions Effective?

    Government efforts to counter the propaganda and radicalization that lead to violent extremism are becoming more common around the world, but there's little research on whether such programs work. It is critical to conduct more research to tease out which programs are most effective.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Smoke superimposed over a mass grave of ISIS fighters found in 2017 near Fallujah, Iraq, photos by Iraqi ministry of defence and Marina/Adobe Stock; design by Peter Soriano/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Who Are America's Jihadists?

    U.S. residents who plotted to carry out jihadist attacks at home and those who traveled or attempted to travel to join jihadists abroad represent two dimensions of the terrorist threat. But both types are driven by internal motivations and circumstances as much as they are inspired by external groups.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy is seen during a military display in the South China Sea, April 12, 2018, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Journal Article

    Winning Friends and Influencing People: Naval Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics

    This report provides an overview of the PLAN's approach to naval diplomacy, focusing on its activity outside maritime East Asia, in what it calls the "far seas."

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Dilapidated structures are seen in Marawi City, Philippines, May 11, 2019, abandoned two years since pro-Islamic State militants began their attacks there, photo by Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

    Project

    Evaluating Programs That Counter Violent Extremism

    Countries around the world are fighting a growing threat of violent extremism. Many have begun implementing countering violent extremism (CVE) interventions to prevent radicalization. Have these programs been effective?

    Sep 9, 2020

  • A man wearing a t-shirt with an image of Zakir Rashid Bhat, the leader of an al Qaeda affiliated militant group in Kashmir, in Dadasara, Kashmir, May 24, 2019, photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is al Qaida Still a Threat?

    Nineteen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, does al Qaida still pose a significant threat to U.S. national security? Among researchers, military and intelligence officials, and policymakers who study the group, there is little consensus. An accurate assessment of al Qaida's organizational health must take into account the group's recent and dramatic resurrection.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • A mobile phone near an illustration of a network

    Report

    Countering Violent Extremism in Indonesia: Using an Online Panel Survey to Assess a Social Media Counter-Messaging Campaign

    This report presents the results of an evaluation designed to assess the effects of countering violent extremism–themed social media content used in a campaign to promote tolerance, freedom of speech, and rejection of violence in Indonesia.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • Photograph image of Philippine flag standing on a war torn city of Marawi in the Philippines.

    Report

    Countering Violent Extremism in the Philippines: A Snapshot of Current Challenges and Responses

    In this report, RAND researchers provide a snapshot of the terrorist and extremist threats facing the Philippines and the countering violent extremism efforts that the Philippine government and nongovernmental agencies have undertaken in response.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • A row of young people looking at their phones

    Report

    Promoting Peace as the Antidote to Violent Extremism: Evaluation of a Philippines-Based Tech Camp and Peace Promotion Fellowship

    This report contains an evaluation of and recommendations from a countering violent extremism (CVE)–themed set of tech camps and fellowships in the Philippines. This report also contains research from a study of CVE radio programming on Mindanao.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • Two USAF A-10 Thunderbolt IIs release countermeasure flares over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, July 23, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Parsons/U.S. Air Force

    Q&A

    The Future of Warfare: Q&A with Raphael Cohen

    What will the next decade of warfare look like? Raphael Cohen led a project to answer that question for the U.S. Air Force. The team considered not just technological or force changes, but also how global politics, economics, and the environment will shift and evolve between now and 2030.

    Sep 8, 2020

  • Syrian refugees cross into Jordanian territory, near the town of Ruwaished, 149 miles east of Amman, December 5, 2013, photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

    Report

    Stabilizing Eastern Syria After ISIS

    Eastern Syrian communities are no longer occupied by ISIS but they are in a fraught political environment where the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government have both expanded their presence and some ISIS fighters remain. What are the region's most urgent needs and is there a viable strategy to build near-term stability?

    Sep 8, 2020

  • Report

    Evaluating Alternative Maintenance Manpower Force Structure Concepts for the F-35A

    The authors of this report evaluate the costs and benefits of maintenance manpower force structures in the U.S. Air Force that merge maintenance career fields in different ways, including alternatives that are being explored by the Air Force today.

    Sep 3, 2020

  • NATO flags fly at summit meetings of Heads of State and Government in Strasbourg, France

    Project

    Defense and Security Research at RAND Europe

    In a climate of uncertainty and rapidly evolving threats, RAND Europe equips clients with the evidence-based analysis they need to inform their decisionmaking on topics ranging from equipment acquisition and personnel policy to cyber security and counter violent extremism.

    Sep 2, 2020

  • Report

    Strategies for Acquisition Agility: Approaches for Speeding Delivery of Defense Capabilities

    The authors analyze various approaches to speed acquisition of military capabilities and keep pace with evolving threats, assess these approaches' suitability for different conditions and acquisition types, and identify implementation issues.

    Aug 27, 2020

  • Report

    The Future of Warfare Boxed Set

    This series of reports examines the key geopolitical, economic, environmental, geographic, legal, informational, and military trends that will shape the contours of conflict between now and 2030.

    Aug 26, 2020

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a drill of long-range artillery sub-units of the Korean People's Army, March 2, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Report

    How Does North Korean Leadership Make Decisions?

    With talks between the United States and North Korea at a standstill, U.S. policymakers must consider what the regime might do next and know what signs or decisions to look for. Will Kim open the DPRK economy? What if conventional deterrence fails on the Korean Peninsula? And what could lead to the use of nuclear weapons?

    Aug 20, 2020