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.

  • U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice listens as Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi speaks during a meeting in Beijing, China, July 25, 2016, photo by Mark Schiefelbein/Reuters/Pool

    Report

    Exploring the Course and Consequences of a Sino-U.S. War

    Jul 28, 2016

    Premeditated war between the United States and China is very unlikely. But the danger that a mishandled crisis could trigger hostilities cannot be ignored. A new analysis illuminates various paths a war could take and their possible effects.

  • Fighters of the anti-government guerilla group UNITA parade under a portrait of their leader Jonas Savimbi, November 12, 1985, marking the 10th anniversary of Angolan Independence from Portugal, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commercial Book

    Guide to Understanding Insurgency Warfare

    Nov 1, 2016

    An exploration of the history and dynamics of 181 insurgencies since 1946 provides lessons for those fighting insurgent campaigns today in such countries as Syria, Libya, and Iraq.

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  • IMPACT Europe logo

    Project

    IMPACT Europe Explores 'What Works' in Tackling Violent Radicalisation and Extremism

    IMPACT Europe aims to bring together policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to explore how violent radicalisation can be countered and what works best. RAND Europe is a partner in this European Commission project.

    May 25, 2017

  • Anti-government protesters outside Sana'a University raise their fingers and fists in the air while chanting for a new Yemen, February 25, 2011

    Report

    Undermining Violent Extremism in Yemen

    In the past 50 years, Yemen has faced significant political instability, including multiple civil wars. Why might Yemenis reject political violence despite persistent conflict and unrest? And how can the United States and its partners undermine violent extremism?

    May 22, 2017

  • Report

    What Role Can Land-Based, Multi-Domain Anti-Access/Area Denial Forces Play in Deterring or Defeating Aggression?

    This report examines the role that land-based, multi-domain anti-access/area denial forces can play in helping the U.S. and its allies and partners deter or defeat aggression in the western Pacific, European littoral areas, and the Persian Gulf.

    May 22, 2017

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 16, 2017

    Commentary

    A Turning Point in U.S-Turkish Relations?

    While Turkish President Erdoğan and U.S. President Trump emphasized the positive aspects of bilateral relations after their meeting, there remain points of contention. The stakes at this meeting and its outcome are high for both Turkey and the United States, and could mark a major milestone in the relationship.

    May 21, 2017

  • A former Islamic State prison in the town of Tabqa, after Syrian Democratic Forces captured it from Islamic State militants, Syria, May 12, 2017.

    Commentary

    ISIS: Weakened but Still Potent

    ISIS is being defeated as an insurgency while preparing to transform into a clandestine terrorist group. But it will continue to pose a serious threat to the countries where it operates and to the Western nations it targets as it evolves and adapts.

    May 18, 2017

  • Expeditionary Unit (MEU) depart the well deck of the amphibious assault ship, USS Makin Island, in a combat rubber raiding craft during Tiger Strike 2016

    Testimony

    Amphibious Operations in Contested Environments

    Amphibious forces can be useful in a variety of settings. But the reach and lethality of today's weapons make parts of amphibious operations especially challenging.

    May 18, 2017

  • Ismail Haniyeh, newly elected head of Hamas' political office, arrives to visit a sit-in in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, Gaza City, May 8, 2017

    Commentary

    Hamas's Strategic Rebranding

    Hamas has unveiled a revised version of its charter that appears to soften the group's stance toward Israel. Does this represent a shift away from violence and toward a more lasting and peaceful political presence? Or is it a ploy to buy time to rearm?

    May 17, 2017

  • Displaced Iraqi people pass a torn Islamic State banner as the battle between the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service and Islamic State militants continues nearby, in western Mosul, Iraq, April 23, 2017

    Commentary

    Can the Islamic State Survive Financially?

    Significant gains have been made in attacking the Islamic State's cash and diminishing its ability to finance high-frequency attacks in Iraq and Syria. But the group may retain enough money to support sporadic attacks in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.

    May 15, 2017

  • Testimony

    Understanding Russian "Hybrid Warfare": And What Can Be Done About It: Addendum

    Document submitted May 5, 2017, as an addendum to testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on March 22, 2017.

    May 11, 2017

  • Report

    Assessing the Value of Regionally Aligned Forces in Army Security Cooperation: An Overview

    This report highlights recent RAND Arroyo Center research on the value of the Army's regionally aligned forces to U.S. security cooperation activities, particularly those conducted in Africa.

    May 10, 2017

  • People pass a large picture of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the late leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khomeini during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, February 11, 2016

    Report

    Iranian Domestic Issues Could Challenge the Nuclear Deal

    The Iran nuclear agreement has proven successful so far, but challenges from within Iran may emerge. The deal could be affected by factional divisions in Iran, the May 19 election, the death of the supreme leader, or heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

    May 10, 2017

  • A screen, showing Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual end-of-year news conference, is on display in Simferopol, Crimea, December 23, 2016.

    Commentary

    Russia in Action, Short of War

    Western countries and organizations need to work more quickly and coordinate better to offset Russia's capabilities, aggressiveness and success. Responding to Russia's hostile influence involves predicting Russia's targets, identifying the tools it is likely to use, and then playing the long game rather than focusing on near-term events.

    May 9, 2017

  • U.S. Army Special Forces members train Iraqi fighters from Hashid Shaabi at Makhmur camp in Iraq, December 11, 2016

    Commentary

    SOF's Evolving Role: Warfare 'By, With, and Through' Local Forces

    U.S. special operations forces are not providing the muscle of the frontline combat troops fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Instead, they are providing meaningful support to the various indigenous forces. If they succeed, this model could become a standard option in the U.S. military playbook.

    May 9, 2017

  • A woman holds a placard with a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a celebration of the third anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea in Simferopol, March 16, 2017

    Report

    Lessons from Russia's Operations in Ukraine

    Russia's annexation of Crimea was a decisive use of military force toward political ends. But Russia benefited from favorable circumstances that make this hard to replicate. Moscow likely considers its campaign in Eastern Ukraine a strategic success but an unsuccessful operation.

    May 9, 2017

  • In an interview with Russian state television on September 12, 2013, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said Damascus would send documents to the United Nations needed to join a convention that prohibits chemical weapons

    Commentary

    Regional Action Needed to Prevent Syrian Chemical Attacks

    Action must be taken to deter future use of chemical weapons. Regional leaders could call for the International Criminal Court to indict Assad for war crimes. Also, borders with Syria could be sealed to prevent any of the remaining stocks from leaving the country.

    May 8, 2017

  • Members of the Free Syrian Army distribute humanitarian aid to residents left in Harem town, Idlib Governorate, October 28, 2012, after Syrian jets bombarded Sunni Muslim regions across the country

    Report

    The U.S. Strategy to Defeat the Islamic State Needs an Overhaul

    A broader strategy to beat the Islamic State should address the conditions that allowed the group to emerge and thrive. A long-term commitment is required to establish legitimate governance in Iraq and Syria and reconcile the disenfranchised Sunni Arab populations with their governments.

    May 7, 2017

  • An Iraqi security guard walks inside Al-Salam hospital destroyed during the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants east of Mosul, Iraq May 2, 2017.

    Commentary

    The Caliphate Is Crumbling: What Comes Next?

    ISIL's caliphate is crumbling. But unless the U.S.-led coalition can reduce the many possibilities that might give ISIL's down-and-out members a reason to fight on, the militants will continue to contribute to disorder in the region.

    May 3, 2017

  • U.S. Army soldiers, deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, use a rooftop as an observation post in Mosul, Iraq, March 7, 2017

    Commentary

    NATO's Role in Post-Caliphate Stability Operations

    Steps are needed to fill the vacuum left as the caliphate collapses, lest forces on the ground turn on each other to gain control. The answer is for NATO to act under U.S. leadership. The alternative is either chaos or Iran — backed by Russia — filling the void.

    May 2, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is reflected in the glasses of a cadet watching Putin on TV at a military school outside Rostov-on-Don, Russia, December 20, 2012

    Testimony

    The Need for Cognitive Security

    The United States needs a strategy to counter information operations conducted by Russia and other adversaries. The rapid evolution of technology complicates this challenge.

    Apr 27, 2017

  • Estonian and U.S. soldiers conduct live-fire training during a combat exercise near Tapa, Estonia, April 6, 2017

    Commentary

    How Trump Can Deter Russia and All of America's Other Enemies

    There is no such thing as blanket deterrence. Rather, one must deter a specific adversary from taking a specific action. A holistic approach should include ramping up U.S. capabilities to anticipate emerging threats, including events that are unlikely to happen.

    Apr 26, 2017