Warfare and Military Operations

Featured

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

  • Russian military vehicles are seen in eastern Ghouta near Douma, in Damascus, Syria, April 23, 2018, photo by Ali Hashisho/Reuters

    Research Brief

    The Outlook for Russia's Growing Military Power

    Russia's military forces have been improving since 2008, enabling operations in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria. How will Russian capabilities continue to develop over the next 20 years? And what will this mean for U.S.-Russian competition and for the U.S. Army?

    Jun 18, 2019

  • Report

    The Future of the Russian Military: Russia's Ground Combat Capabilities and Implications for U.S.-Russia Competition

    Researchers analyze societal, political, economic, and demographic factors that undergird Russian military power. They also make projections about how Russian ground combat capabilities will evolve in the future and how the U.S. Army can respond.

    Jun 18, 2019

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Russia's President Vladimir Putin attend a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, June 14, 2019, photo by Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters

    Commentary

    The Costs of Confrontation with Iran Are Mounting

    Even if the United States and Iran avoid a direct military clash, the escalation and the U.S. maximum pressure campaign are exacting long-term costs for U.S. interests and regional stability in ways that may be difficult if not impossible to reverse.

    Jun 17, 2019

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervises a strike drill during a military drill in North Korea, May 4, 2019, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    One Year After Singapore: The North Korea Problem Is Bigger Than Nukes

    After two summits between the United States and North Korea, and little to show in the way of deliverables on dismantlement, hopes that a third summit may yield a denuclearization deal seem a bit unrealistic. Essentially, there has been no indication of intent on Kim's part to denuclearize. But the North Korea problem is much greater than nukes.

    Jun 17, 2019

  • 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

    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.

    Jun 12, 2019

  • Missiles being launched during a military drill in North Korea, May 10, 2019, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Downplaying North Korea's Missile Tests Carries Risks

    North Korea test-fired short-range ballistic missiles for the first time in 18 months. President Trump is downplaying the tests, refusing to call them a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. But if North Korea starts testing longer-range missiles, it could become harder for Washington to return to talks, risking the end of diplomacy with Pyongyang altogether.

    Jun 5, 2019

  • Report

    Main Command Post-Operational Detachments (MCP-ODs) and Division Headquarters Readiness

    Researchers identify the effects of Focus Area Review Group II headquarters design and its new unit type -- the Main Command Post--Operational Detachment -- on division headquarters readiness.

    Jun 3, 2019

  • A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces escorts a blindfolded civilian detainee suspected to be a member of Islamic State militants in Raqqa, October 12, 2017, photo by Issam Abdallah/Reuters

    Journal Article

    Options for Dealing with ISIS Foreign Fighters Detained in Syria

    The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are holding thousands of fighters who had joined ISIS's ranks from abroad as well as members of their families. What the world does (or does not do) about them could affect the future stability of the region and the countries from which they came.

    May 31, 2019

  • Research Brief

    The Growing Need to Focus on Modern Political Warfare

    RAND researchers analyzed how political warfare is practiced today and identified ways that the U.S. government, its allies, and its partners can respond to or engage in this type of conflict to achieve U.S. ends and protect U.S. interests.

    May 31, 2019

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy soldiers patrol in the Spratly Islands, February 9, 2016, photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

    Commentary

    Vietnam Is the Chinese Military's Preferred Warm-Up Fight

    China's last major war experience gave it virtually zero lessons to apply to future armed conflict. At some point the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will need to test its new capabilities and the training it has honed over time. There are at least three reasons why Vietnam is likely in the PLA's crosshairs.

    May 15, 2019

  • Report

    A Stated Preference Analysis of the Determinants of Unit and Soldier Operational Effectiveness

    The authors assess the relative importance of component status relative to a number of potential determinants of operational effectiveness, including but not limited to unit type, training level, experience in country, and associated costs and risk.

    May 13, 2019

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq March 11, 2019, photo by Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters

    Commentary

    Can Anyone Save the Iran Nuclear Deal Now?

    Europe faces mounting pressure from both Tehran and Washington regarding the Iran nuclear deal. European countries could take steps to signal their commitment to upholding the deal, but doing so may alienate the United States.

    May 10, 2019

  • The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln conducts a replenishment-at-sea operation with other carrier group ships. The carrier group is now in the Red Sea earlier than planned at the direction of the White House, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Sherman/U.S. Navy photo

    Commentary

    U.S., Iran Must Both Tread Lightly with Tensions Running So High

    Tensions between the United States and Iran have increased, raising concerns that they may be headed for war. But conflict is not inevitable. The United States and Iran could seek to re-establish communications channels, as well as look for available off-ramps to de-escalate tensions and keep the slightest misstep from spiraling into an all-out conflict.

    May 9, 2019

  • Report

    OCEANS 17 Tabletop Exercise: Findings and Recommendations

    In December 2017, the RAND Corporation conducted a tabletop exercise on air operations across the boundaries between geographic combatant commands. This report describes the exercise's design, key insights from our analysis, and recommendations.

    May 9, 2019

  • Report

    A Throughput-Based Analysis of Army Active Component/Reserve Component Mix for Major Contingency Surge Operations

    This report examines how changing the way in which the Army executes mobilization and contingency planning can affect the ratio of reserve component to active component units deploying in the early weeks of a major crisis.

    May 8, 2019

  • U.S. Army Soldiers conduct actions on an objective during a training scenario at the Asymmetric Warfare Training Center, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Feb. 23, 2018, photo by St. Randis Monroe/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Urban Legend: Is Combat in Cities Really Inevitable?

    Future combat will take place in dense urban areas and likely in megacities. These are the new “truths” that are taking hold in the U.S. military. But before going all-in on optimizing for urban operations, the U.S. military should take a deep breath and think carefully about future operations within the context of the National Defense Strategy.

    May 7, 2019

  • News Release

    U.S. Military Gaps in Funding and Personnel Need Addressing to Deter Global Aggression

    A significant gap exists between the stated strategic and defense policies of the United States and the resources and capabilities required to implement those policies successfully.

    May 7, 2019

  • An aerial view of The Pentagon in Washington, D.C., photo by Ivan Cholakov/Getty Images

    Report

    Gaps Exist Between U.S. Strategy and Military Capacity

    There will not be enough resources to close the technological, doctrinal, and budgetary gaps between stated U.S. aims and the military capabilities needed to achieve them. What changes to U.S. strategy and investments could help close these gaps, and which missions should be prioritized?

    May 7, 2019

  • Security personnel stand guard in front of St. Anthony's Shrine, days after a string of suicide bomb attacks across the island on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 29, 2019, photo by Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

    Commentary

    Sri Lanka's Easter Attacks: Dismantling Myths to Prevent the Next Attack

    On Easter Sunday, suicide bombers hit six locations across Sri Lanka, killing more than 250 people. Even before ISIS claimed responsibility, there was no obvious connection to the quarter-century of violence that afflicted the nation until 2009. It is worth dismantling a few myths that might prevent better preparation for future attacks.

    May 6, 2019

  • Members of Japan's Self-Defence Forces' airborne troops stand at attention during the annual SDF ceremony at Asaka Base, Japan, October 23, 2016, photo by Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

    Commentary

    With Little Fanfare, Japan Just Changed the Way It Uses Its Military

    In early April, Japan deployed its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) abroad to join a multinational force not connected to the United Nations. This is the first time that SDF personnel will participate in overseas peacekeeping operations not under UN control. The difference may not seem important, but it is.

    May 3, 2019