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. Army, Air Force, and Italian paratroopers conduct joint airborne operations in Vicenza, Italy, July 16, 2013

    Report

    Learning from Past U.S. Army–Air Force Collaborations

    Sep 13, 2018

    The Army and the Air Force are developing the concept of multi-domain battle to better coordinate air and ground forces to meet shared challenges. Lessons from past efforts show that to succeed, multi-domain battle will have to address the fundamental questions of each service's culture and deeply held views about warfighting.

  • 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

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a working lunch at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday, June 28, 2019, photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan's Hormuz Dilemma

    With rising tensions between the United States and Iran, the United States wants to create a coalition to ensure freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab, and wants Japan to join. While Japan is one of America's staunchest allies in the Indo-Pacific, any decision to support coalition efforts is likely to put Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a difficult position.

    Aug 16, 2019

  • A member of Iran's Revolutionary guards sits in front of a picture of a soldier at a war exhibition to commemorate the anniversary of Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in southern Tehran, September 26, 2007, photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

    Commentary

    Syria Changed the Iranian Way of War

    As tensions rise between Washington and Tehran, the United States and its partners will begin to feel the effects of Iran's military transformation. To get a sense of the playbook that Tehran might consult in any future conflict with the United States, Washington should pay close attention to what the Iranians have learned in Syria.

    Aug 16, 2019

  • A licensed clinical social worker listens to her client during a therapy session at the Bay Pines Veterans Administration Healthcare Center in Bay Pines, Florida, October 29, 2015, photo by EJ Hersom/DoD News

    Research Brief

    How to Improve Mental Health Care for Veterans

    Veterans, especially those who deployed overseas, face elevated risks of mental health conditions. Those who have served since the September 11, 2001, attacks are particularly vulnerable. About one in five experiences mental health problems. Are veterans getting the high-quality care that they need?

    Aug 13, 2019

  • An Egyptian military vehicle on the highway in northern Sinai, Egypt, May 25, 2015, photo by Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

    Commentary

    Making Headway Against the Sinai Insurgency

    Since 2013 Egypt has been engaged in the Sinai peninsula against a deadly ISIS-affiliated insurgency. To make headway against militant groups on the peninsula, the Egyptian government could focus on providing services to its citizens there and repairing its relationship with them.

    Aug 12, 2019

  • Indian security personnel stand guard along a deserted street during restrictions in Jammu, August 5, 2019, photo by Mukesh Gupta/Reuters

    Commentary

    Kashmir's Democracy—and the World's

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi just changed the status of the restive Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. This may be the most important event in an enormously volatile part of the world since the end of the last century, with repercussions that will extend far beyond Kashmir itself.

    Aug 8, 2019

  • Report

    Attracting, Recruiting, and Retaining Successful Cyberspace Operations Officers: Cyber Workforce Interview Findings

    Recruiting and retaining military cyberspace officers is critical to national security. Through interviews, the authors examine potential drivers of retention and recruiting among cyberspace operations officers, making recommendations for the future.

    Jul 26, 2019

  • French army officers salute during the traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris July 14, 2012, photo by Charles Platiau/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Insurgent Counter-Insurgent: The French Army's Hero and Some Truths About Modern Warfare

    When asked about their heroes, one name comes up with French Army officers more than any other: Hélie Denoix de Saint Marc. Saint Marc lived an extraordinary life, to be sure. But his story also contains important lessons about modern warfare and counter-insurgency warfare in particular, the work of training local forces, and the imperative of aligning military means with realistic political objectives.

    Jul 25, 2019

  • Steam rises from the chimneys of a thermal power plant behind the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in Moscow, Russia January 9, 2018, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Cyber Threats from the U.S. and Russia Are Now Focusing on Civilian Infrastructure

    For years, Russia and the United States have been targeting each other's infrastructure through cyberattacks. But the aggression and scope of these operations now seem unprecedented. What are the best options for U.S. policymakers?

    Jul 23, 2019

  • Report

    Distributed Operations in a Contested Environment: Implications for USAF Force Presentation

    This report's authors identify capabilities the Air Force needs to carry out distributed operations in a contested environment. They then assess whether the current force presentation model can provide such capabilities.

    Jul 17, 2019

  • U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone on the border of North and South Korea, June 30, 2019, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why U.S. Negotiators Face a Tough Task After the Trump-Kim DMZ Meeting

    Denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea may be under time constraints tied to America's next presidential election. This further complicates the task facing U.S. negotiators, who seek to reach a deal that endures beyond 2020.

    Jul 15, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Using an Inoculation Message Approach to Promote Public Confidence in Protective Agencies

    This investigation tested the effectiveness of inoculation as a pre-crisis strategy in combating the effects of politically motivated violent acts.

    Jul 3, 2019

  • Research Brief

    The Battle for Baghdad: Institutionalizing Army Lessons for Urban Combat

    This brief recounts the U.S. Army's efforts in the Iraq War, especially in Baghdad, and offers lessons learned and recommendations to enable leaders and soldiers to be better prepared in future conflicts.

    Jul 3, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Assessing Against and Moving Past the "Funnel" Model of Counterterrorism Communication

    Through numerous forms of media, terrorists are embracing new opportunities to spread the psychological impact of terrorism throughout the world. This article discusses the promise and challenges of counterterrorism communication efforts.

    Jul 3, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Diffusing Portable Radiation Detectors Among First Responders

    This article discusses police technology adoption and the ability to diffuse portable radiation detectors. Other impacts related to community resilience are discussed.

    Jul 3, 2019

  • U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, Panmunjom, South Korea, June 30, 2019, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Trump Reset U.S.–North Korea Relations

    The meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the DMZ may lead to follow-on talks. But the success of future negotiations depends on Kim actually taking action to denuclearize.

    Jul 2, 2019

  • Report

    Africa's Role in Nation-Building: An Examination of African-Led Peace Operations

    What have the peacekeeping missions undertaken by African institutions in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Darfur, the Comoros, Somalia, and the Lake Chad Basin achieved?

    Jun 28, 2019

  • Research Brief

    How African Institutions Help Keep the Peace

    African-led missions are often the peacekeepers of last resort, taking on tasks rejected by others. Two of the six African operations examined helped set a relatively peaceful trajectory. Three of the missions contributed to improving security.

    Jun 28, 2019

  • A helicopter lands during the trident juncture exercise in the Netherlands

    Report

    NATO's Amphibious Forces: Command and Control of a Multibrigade Alliance Task Force

    RAND researchers facilitated three wargaming events to explore command and control of NATO's amphibious forces in major combat operations. The authors note results and implications for future force development.

    Jun 27, 2019

  • Fishing boats departing from Shenjiawan port in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province towards the East China Sea fishing grounds, September 17, 2012, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Report

    How the United States Can Compete in the Gray Zone

    America is entering a period of intensifying strategic competition with Russia and China. U.S. officials expect this to play out below the threshold of armed conflict, in the gray zone between peace and war. What policy options does the United States have to respond to gray zone threats?

    Jun 27, 2019

  • Bomb blasts and artillery fire thundered across Baghdad as U.S. forces tightened their grip on the capital's fringes and brought up more troops, April 6, 2003, photo by Faleh Kheiber/Reuters

    Commentary

    Changing the Way America Goes to War

    America's vast power, and the weakness of most of its enemies, has allowed it to get away with a striking absence of deliberative judgment when deciding on war, as the Iraq case makes clear. But that free pass is coming to an end. It's time for the United States to rethink the way it decides on wars of choice.

    Jun 25, 2019