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

    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

    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.

Explore Warfare and Military Operations

  • Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018

    Commentary

    Five Thoughts on Jerusalem, Gaza, and What's in Between

    Dozens of people have been killed and over 2,000 injured in protests in the Gaza Strip along the border with Israel. Continued clashes are expected until the fundamental problems of the strip are solved, including the governance vacuum, the Palestinian Authority-Hamas rift, and the conflict with Israel.

    May 15, 2018

  • Report

    Training Success for U.S. Air Force Special Operations and Combat Support Specialties: An Analysis of Recruiting, Screening, and Development Processes

    This report addresses challenges for implementing new approaches to Air Force high-demand, high-attrition specialty recruiting, screening, and development processes, and takes a holistic approach to identifying methods to fill gaps in processes.

    May 15, 2018

  • U.S. President Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement after signing it at the White House, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    The U.S. Is Out of the Iran Deal. What Now?

    Abandoning the nuclear agreement with Iran isolates the United States, reneges on an American commitment, adds to the risk of a trade war with U.S. allies and a hot war with Iran, and diminishes the prospects of an agreement to eliminate the North Korean threat.

    May 9, 2018

  • U.S. Army Capt. Rodriguez, left, watches as an Afghan soldier signs for the transfer of 155 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and 15 mine-resistant, ambush-protected recovery vehicles to Afghan security forces on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

    Testimony

    A Path Forward for U.S. Government Spending in Afghanistan

    For more than 16 years, U.S. assistance to Afghanistan has been enormous in scale and complexity. But how effective is U.S. spending when it comes to building a stable democracy in Afghanistan? How can the United States reduce its financial commitment while mitigating risks?

    May 9, 2018

  • Report

    Force Presentation in U.S. Air Force History and Airpower Narratives

    USAF leaders are concerned that their force presentation construct is lacking. This report presents historical analysis and recommendations to inform USAF deliberations regarding future force presentation constructs.

    May 7, 2018

  • Lorton, Virginia, June 6, 2017: Elizabeth and Ventoux, a canine/handler team with Virginia Task Force 1, participate in a training drill. They practiced searching for people trapped within the rubble pile.

    Brochure

    HSOAC Annual Report 2016–2017

    The Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC) 2016-2017 Annual Report offers an overview of HSOAC capabilities and highlights how RAND is supporting the mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

    May 7, 2018

  • Journal Article

    Paradigm Change: Operational Art and the Information Joint Function

    The potential benefit of information as a joint function is clear. Commanders could measure campaign success by evaluating emergent behavior of relevant actors defining strategic outcomes rather than focusing too intently on the physics of fighting.

    May 2, 2018

  • A robot arm moves its index finger toward a nuclear button

    Commentary

    Will Artificial Intelligence Undermine Nuclear Stability?

    In the coming years, AI-enabled progress in tracking and targeting adversaries' nuclear weapons could undermine the foundations of nuclear stability. The chance that AI will someday be able to guide strategy decisions about escalation or even launching nuclear weapons is real.

    May 1, 2018

  • The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) fires a Tomahawk land attack missile April 14, 2018

    Commentary

    What Does Mission Accomplished in Syria Really Mean?

    The use of chemicals cannot be allowed to become an acceptable form of warfare either in Syria or anywhere else. Mission accomplishment in Syria, just like in chemical weapon nonproliferation, will require far more than missile strikes alone.

    Apr 30, 2018

  • U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis speaks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 13, 2018

    Commentary

    Is America Ready for a Peace Deal in Afghanistan?

    The Trump administration appears to be following its predecessor in imagining a political endgame in Afghanistan. It is focused on military efforts to try to turn the tide of the conflict, in hopes of negotiating from a stronger position. But if all sides continue to seek military advantage, negotiations will never commence.

    Apr 27, 2018

  • Report

    Strengthening U.S.-ROK Relations in the New Administrations of the United States and South Korea: Findings from an October 2016 RAND Corporation Conference

    This summary outlines presentations and discussions from an October 2016 conference on relations between the United States and the Republic of Korea, with a focus on strengthening regional security and economic relations.

    Apr 27, 2018

  • A mourner writes a message on a makeshift memorial a day after a van struck multiple people along a major intersection in north Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 24, 2018

    Commentary

    The Continuing Plague of Vehicle Attacks: What Can Be Done?

    Attacks using vehicles like the one in Toronto this week are difficult to defend against, but that doesn't mean that law enforcement and local security forces can't make progress. There are four crucial elements to consider when thinking about mitigating the effects of ramming attacks.

    Apr 26, 2018

  • AI robot pressing a nuclear launch button.

    Article

    How Artificial Intelligence Could Increase the Risk of Nuclear War

    Advances in AI have provoked a new kind of arms race among nuclear powers. This technology could challenge the basic rules of nuclear deterrence and lead to catastrophic miscalculations.

    Apr 24, 2018

  • A U.S. Military Transition Team leader speaks with his Iraqi counterpart during a mission to find weapons caches in the western desert near Bayji, Iraq

    Commentary

    Stabilization Is Essential to Accomplishing the Mission

    There's good reason to hope that the forthcoming policy on stabilization in places like Iraq will get the United States to the right middle road. But this new effort will fall short if Congress doesn't maintain the necessary funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

    Apr 24, 2018

  • News Release

    By 2040, Artificial Intelligence Could Upend Nuclear Stability

    Artificial intelligence has the potential to upend the foundations of nuclear deterrence by the year 2040. While AI-controlled doomsday machines are considered unlikely, the hazards of artificial intelligence for nuclear security lie instead in its potential to encourage humans to take potentially apocalyptic risks

    Apr 24, 2018

  • Artificial intelligence playing Go

    Report

    How Might Artificial Intelligence Affect the Risk of Nuclear War?

    Experts agree that AI has significant potential to upset the foundations of nuclear security. But there are also ways that machines could help ease distrust among international powers and decrease the risk of nuclear war.

    Apr 24, 2018

  • A police notice is attached to screening surrounding a restaurant which was visited by former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia before they were found on a park bench after being poisoned in Salisbury, Britain, March 19, 2018

    Commentary

    Arms Control Hostage to Skripal and Syria Attacks

    Two prominent poisoning assassination attempts and Kremlin denials of gas attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad raise doubts about Moscow's commitment to the purposes of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Never has the future of negotiated arms control involving Russia been at greater risk.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • Destroyed buildings during sunset at the frontline in Raqqa, Syria, October 6, 2017

    Commentary

    Defeating the ISIS Nostalgia Narrative

    It is crucial that the United States and its coalition partners take into consideration and preempt the ISIS nostalgia narratives that may seek to define the group's legacy and prepare a foundation for its resurgence throughout the Middle East and beyond. The legacy ISIS should be remembered for is one of misery and despair.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • U.S. soldiers serving with deterrence forces perform a scenario-based situation exercise with Polish soldiers acting as civilians near the Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, February 6, 2018

    Report

    The Role of Deterrence in U.S. Defense Policy

    Deterrence is about much more than merely threatening an adversary. It must be conceived primarily as an effort to shape the thinking of a potential aggressor. Any strategy to prevent aggression must begin with an assessment of the potential aggressor's interests, motives, and imperatives.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • Syrian medical staff take part in a training exercise on how to treat victims of chemical weapons attacks, Gaziantep, Turkey, July 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Are Chemical Weapons Becoming a Tacitly Accepted Weapon of War?

    The international community should consider serious options to hold perpetrators of chemical attacks accountable and stop further attacks. These are not easy choices. But the alternative is accepting that long-held norms are crumbling, and the world is sliding back to a time when inhumane tools of war were common.

    Apr 18, 2018