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

  • South Korea and U.S. Special Forces during a joint military exercise in Gangwon province, South Korea, November 7, 2019, photo by Capt. David J. Murphy/U.S. Air Force/Reuters

    Commentary

    U.S.–South Korea OPCON Transition: The Element of Timing

    As Washington and Seoul continue to examine the feasibility and conditions for wartime operational control transition, decisionmakers will likely face political pressure on timing. It may well be to the advantage of both allies that the determination of the transfer be driven by a hard, thorough diagnosis of military capabilities against emerging threats.

    Apr 2, 2020

  • Cyber warfare specialists engage in weekend training at Warfield Air National Guard Base in Middle River, Maryland, June 3, 2017, photo by J.M. Eddins Jr./U.S. Air Force

    Report

    The Defense Industrial Base Needs a Cyber Protection Program

    The unclassified networks of defense industrial base firms have become a target for adversaries seeking to steal sensitive data, trade secrets, and intellectual property. How can the U.S. Department of Defense better secure these networks?

    Mar 30, 2020

  • Report

    Measuring Cybersecurity and Cyber Resiliency

    This report presents a framework for the development of metrics -- and a method for scoring them -- that indicates how well a U.S. Air Force mission or system is expected to perform in a cyber-contested environment.

    Mar 26, 2020

  • A Norwegian Army Leopard 2A4 main battle tank during the NATO exercise Trident Juncture in Norway, 2018, photo by Ole-Sverre Haugli/Norwegian Armed Forces

    Report

    Enhancing Security on NATO's Northern Flank: Options for Norway

    Norway supports deterrence, crisis management, and security in the High North—which includes the Scandinavian territories and northern Russia. What regional insights can other NATO allies provide to help Norway in its security role?

    Mar 25, 2020

  • Report

    Neurological Effects of Repeated Exposure to Military Occupational Levels of Blast: A Review of Scientific Literature

    There is increasing concern over the common, repetitive forms of blast to which military members are exposed during service, and how those exposures could affect the central nervous system. The authors of this report review the relevant literature.

    Mar 18, 2020

  • MINUSMA Peacekeepers, during Operation Military 'FRELANA' to protect civilians and their property in Gao, Mali, July 11-12, 2017, photo by Harandane Dicko/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Commentary

    Why the UK May Be Sending Troops to Mali

    The UK government's decision to deploy an additional 250 soldiers to join the United Nations mission in Mali might be in Britain's security interests. Such deployments display the UK's commitment to international security and may well form a critical part of its post-BREXIT diplomacy.

    Mar 16, 2020

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, and Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, shake hands after signing an agreement at a ceremony between members of Afghanistan's Taliban and the U.S. in Doha, Qatar, February 29, 2020, photo by Ibrahem Alomari/Reuters

    Commentary

    Peace Hasn't Broken Out in Afghanistan

    The United States and the Taliban signed a preliminary peace deal in February, aimed at ending nearly 19 years of war in Afghanistan and calling for the United States to gradually withdraw its troops. But talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government called for in the agreement and scheduled to begin on March 10 did not happen. What happens now?

    Mar 16, 2020

  • A magnifying glass on a digital human hacker image, photo by monsitj/Getty Images

    Report

    Detecting Malign or Subversive Information Efforts over Social Media

    The United States has a capability gap in detecting malign or subversive information campaigns in time to respond before they influence large audiences. A novel method can now detect these efforts.

    Mar 16, 2020

  • News Release

    New Space Force Will Need Resources, Clear Definition of Warfighting Mission

    To meet the goals of the U.S. Space Force most space activities in the Department of Defense should be moved into the new service. Moreover, it will be critical that the Space Force clearly define and clarify its space warfighting mission.

    Mar 13, 2020

  • light in space

    Report

    A Separate Space: Creating a Military Service for Space

    As the United States creates the Space Force as a service within the Department of the Air Force, RAND assessed which units to bring into the Space Force, analyzed career field sustainability and drew lessons from other defense organizations.

    Mar 13, 2020

  • A military camouflage uniform bearing a U.S. Space Force nametape and U.S. Space Command shoulder patch, January 17, 2020, photo by U.S. Space Force/Handout via Reuters

    Research Brief

    How to Build an Effective, Efficient, and Independent Space Force

    To increase its likelihood of developing into a successful organization, the new U.S. Space Force should define and clarify its space warfighting missions. And most space activities in the Department of Defense should be moved into the new service.

    Mar 13, 2020

  • Report

    Countering Violent Extremism in Nigeria: Using a Text-Message Survey to Assess Radio Programs

    The authors present the results of a text message–based randomized controlled trial designed to assess the impact of a countering violent extremism (CVE)–themed radio program broadcast in northern Nigeria in 2018–2019.

    Mar 12, 2020

  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and members of the NATO, U.S., and Afghanistan delegations take a group photo at the U.S.-Afghanistan Joint Declaration Announcement at the Dilkusha Mansion Garden, Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 29, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Brandy Nicole Mejia/U.S. Army Photo

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime' by Oriana Skylar Mastro

    Why do warring parties wait so long to start peace negotiations? How can we get to that stage more quickly and definitively? Oriana Skylar Mastro explores the tension between the imperative to fight and the imperative to negotiate in her book, The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime.

    Mar 2, 2020

  • Blog

    Russian Subversion, Truth Decay, Supervised Drug Consumption Sites: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on responding to Russian subversion, how the media can help fight Truth Decay, the first supervised drug consumption site in the United States, artificial intelligence, and more.

    Feb 28, 2020

  • U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bilateral meeting with President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte alongside the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 13, 2017, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    If U.S. Forces Have to Leave the Philippines, Then What?

    If the United States were to lose access to bases in the Philippines, the effects would ripple outward. Maintaining alliances in the Indo-Pacific in all their manifestations is critical—and the details matter.

    Feb 28, 2020

  • U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army base in Logar province, Afghanistan, August 7, 2018, photo by Omar Sobhani/Reuters

    Commentary

    The First Step on a Long Path to Peace in Afghanistan

    It has taken 10 years to reach the brink of a first substantial step in toward peace in Afghanistan, and much could still go wrong. Can the Taliban and the Afghan government come together to jointly govern the country?

    Feb 27, 2020

  • U.S. advisors speak with their Afghan National Army counterparts during a routine fly-to-advise mission at Forward Operating Base Altimur, Afghanistan, September 19, 2018, photo by Sean Kimmons/U.S. Army

    Report

    What Best Practices in DDR Could Work for Afghanistan?

    Implementing a peace accord between the Afghan government and the Taliban will take years. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) are likely to result from rather than lead the process, because disarmament requires a level of trust that can only be built over time. How can the U.S. best advise Afghan authorities on DDR?

    Feb 24, 2020

  • Blog

    New START, Trump's Middle East Peace Plan, New Tobacco Products: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on why the United States should extend the New START agreement, the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan, new tobacco products, and more.

    Feb 21, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony for newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia, in Moscow, Russia, February 5, 2020, photo by Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via Reuters

    Report

    How to Understand and Respond to Russian Subversion

    Russia's interests motivate different forms of subversion to influence domestic politics in the United States and elsewhere. Capabilities vary across countries and activities, and the effectiveness of such efforts remains largely unknown. Despite these challenges, there are ways to deter and respond to Russian subversion.

    Feb 18, 2020

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty at Prague Castle in the Czech Republic, April 8, 2010, photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    Report

    The Military Case for Extending New START

    The most prudent course of action would be for Washington to extend the U.S.-Russia New START agreement before it expires in February 2021. This would constrain Russia's nuclear forces covered by the treaty for five more years. And it would buy time to pursue multilateral negotiations that also include China.

    Feb 14, 2020