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.

  • An armoured vehicle of the Syrian Democratic Forces is seen along a road at the frontline in Raqqa, Syria, October 8, 2017, photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters

    Report

    Pentagon Processes on Civilian Casualties Inconsistent, in Need of Reform

    Jan 27, 2022

    The Department of Defense has committed to civilian-harm policies and processes, but inconsistencies remain. The Pentagon is not adequately organized or resourced to sufficiently assess, reduce, and respond to civilian-harm incidents. Reform will require institutional, not just operational, changes.

  • The launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile during a test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, February 5, 2020, photo by SrA Clayton Wear/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Weighing the Cost and Necessity of Nuclear Modernization

    Jan 3, 2022

    The United States has fielded a Triad of air-, sea-, and land-based nuclear delivery systems since the 1950s. Major components are nearing the end of their service lives, raising the question of whether to extend or replace them. Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to modernize, diversify, and expand their nuclear arsenals.

Explore Warfare and Military Operations

  • A U.S. Marine participates in nonlethal riot control training at the Baghdad Embassy Compound in Iraq, August 14, 2020, photo by Cpl. Thomas Spencer/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    Effective Use of Nonlethal Weapons Could Require Combating Disinformation

    The temporary and reversible effects of nonlethal weapons reduce the potential for collateral damage while mitigating the risk of inadvertent escalation in peacetime and gray-zone situations. But public perceptions can have powerful effects on how these systems are employed and the impact of their use.

    Apr 22, 2022

  • Blog

    Responding to Russian Cyberattacks, Rebuilding Ukraine, Climate Change: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how the U.S. could respond to Russian cyberattacks, what it will take to rebuild Ukraine after the war, why U.S. employers still have the power over workers, and more.

    Apr 22, 2022

  • Multimedia

    Current Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Policy in the Middle East

    The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP) hosted a roundtable conversation featuring former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Ambassador (ret.) Ryan Crocker, Former Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman, Esq., and CMEPP Director Linda Robinson. These panelists explored the challenges and opportunities for U.S. policy in the Middle East 20 years after 9/11.

    Apr 22, 2022

  • Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, the victim of a cyberattack that crippled its electronic database for days, in Los Angeles, California, February 16, 2016, photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

    Commentary

    Preparing for a Cyberattack Starts at the Local Level

    The ongoing Russian war in Ukraine has highlighted the need for federal, state, and local level emergency managers to prepare to respond to a cyberattack with widespread impacts that significantly disrupt critical infrastructure.

    Apr 18, 2022

  • Building cranes and power lines connecting high-tension electricity pylons next to a construction site in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 10, 2020, photo by Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    Rebuilding Ukraine

    By leveraging better investment conditions and reforms and broad international support, Ukraine could carry out a well-executed reconstruction program once the fighting ends. It might repair much of the war damage and help Ukraine move into the ranks of faster-growing European economies.

    Apr 18, 2022

  • Two hands holding a heart made out of flowers in the colors of Ukraine'a flag, photo by Maryna Petrenko-Shvets/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Reopening Old Wounds: Two Stories, One Lesson

    The shocking events unfolding in Ukraine have reopened old wounds for two RAND researchers. Their personal stories stand as testaments that the traumas inflicted by Russia's war on Ukraine will echo for decades to come.

    Apr 16, 2022

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a concert marking the eighth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2022, photo by RIA Novosti Host Photo Agency/Alexander Vilf via Reuters

    Commentary

    Russian Cyberattacks May Be Coming. What Might Be an Optimal Strategy for Responding?

    Russia appears poised to make a first move against the United States and its allies in cyberspace. A savvy U.S. response that is deliberately measured and accompanied by the right message could end this fight after the first round.

    Apr 14, 2022

  • Image representing the presence of a bug or malware in computer software, photo by Black_Kira/Getty Images

    Report

    The Effects of Technology on Strategic Deterrence

    Emerging technologies—especially those related to information aggression and manipulation, automation, hypersonic systems, and unmanned systems—hold dramatic implications for both the effectiveness and stability of deterrence. How might the United States prepare for the potential risks?

    Apr 14, 2022

  • Illustration of online extremists by Jessica Arana/RAND Corporation from Sean Rayford/Alamy; dem10/Getty Images; sestovic/Getty Images; Dilok Klaisataporn/Getty Images; Comstock/Getty Images

    Report

    How Extremism Operates Online

    Extremist groups use internet-based tools for financing, networking and coordination, recruitment and radicalization, inter- and intra-group knowledge transfer, and mobilization to action. How do internet users engage with these efforts? And can the internet be leveraged to counter extremism?

    Apr 12, 2022

  • A Russian Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system drives during a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, May 7, 2021, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'Escalation and Deescalation of Crises, Armed Conflicts, and Wars'

    The evolving crisis in Ukraine has generated much discussion about whether Moscow would escalate the conflict, whether in frustration at the slow progress of its military operations, or in response to actions of other states, even possibly resorting to nuclear weapons. But what do Russian sources suggest about escalation?

    Apr 11, 2022

  • Natural gas compressor station in Rippien, Sachsen, Germany, March 29, 2022, photo by Sylvio Dittrich/IMAGO/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia Does Not Seem to Be After Ukraine's Gas Reserves

    There seems to be very little reason to believe that the true stakes of the war in Ukraine are the country's natural gas reserves, as some have speculated. Ukrainian gas fields appear too small to justify the costs of the invasion, too hard to keep, and almost impossible for Russia to exploit.

    Apr 11, 2022

  • Blog

    Employing Insurgency in Ukraine, U.S. Hospital Prices, Reaching the Middle Class: RAND Weekly Recap

    This week, we discuss the potential value of an insurgent campaign in Ukraine; addressing L.A.’s housing crisis; lessons from the 2017 battle for Raqqa; a look at U.S. hospital prices; Americans’ options for reaching the middle class; and how to help single mothers get out of poverty.

    Apr 8, 2022

  • A street in Moscow, Russia, April 26, 2020, photo by Latin America News Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Tragic Failure to Reform Its Economy

    Russia's invasion of Ukraine and resulting sanctions will likely devastate Russia's economy. If the country had taken a more productive economic course over the past two decades, it might be looking toward a different future—one in which economic reforms had more tightly integrated Russia with the economically advanced countries, enhanced Russian influence and power, and built global trust.

    Apr 7, 2022

  • Ukrainian soldiers and press after clashes between the Ukrainian and Russian Army in Irpin, outside of Kyiv, Ukraine, April 2, 2022, photo by Raphael Lafargue/ABACAPRESS.COM/Reuters

    Commentary

    Could Insurgency Offer Ukraine a Decisive Edge?

    While insurgency rarely offers a path to early victory, a campaign of popular resistance that supports the continuing conventional battle could give overmatched Ukraine an edge in its fight against Russian occupiers.

    Apr 6, 2022

  • A local woman salutes Ukrainian service members in the Chernihiv region, Ukraine, April 2, 2022, photo by Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia, Ukraine, and the Misuse of History

    History as playbook has been used to paint the Ukraine conflict as the start of a larger battle for Europe. But even if it is Putin's intent to knock over one domino of a European country after another, the Russian Army—unlike the Soviet Army of old—simply does not have the capacity to do that.

    Apr 6, 2022

  • Screen shot of Kremlin-backed news channel Russia Today on UK television, February 22, 2022, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    Don't Sleep on Russian Information War Capabilities

    Ukraine looks to have Russia beat in countering Russian disinformation. But this is only part of the story. Instead of fixating on Russia's missteps, policymakers and analysts would benefit from studying Ukraine's sophisticated information campaign while bearing in mind that Russia retains significant information warfare capabilities and a willingness to use them.

    Apr 5, 2022

  • A man looks at a street monitor showing a news report about North Korea's missile launch, in Tokyo, Japan, November 29, 2017

    Journal Article

    Nuclear-Use Cases for Contemplating Crisis and Conflict on the Korean Peninsula

    The paper identifies possible cases/scenarios that would lead to first use of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.

    Apr 5, 2022

  • Blog

    Helping Ukrainian Refugees, Truth Decay, Algorithmic Inequity: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how to help Ukrainian refugees, the link between cognitive processes and Truth Decay, tracking wastewater to understand the spread of COVID-19, and more.

    Apr 1, 2022

  • Ukrainian servicemen stand by a destroyed bridge as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Irpin outside Kyiv, Ukraine, April 1, 2022, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Ukraine War's Three Clocks

    As the war in Ukraine creeps into its second month, perhaps the most common question is: How will it end? Ultimately, the answer comes down to three internal clocks—Ukraine's, which is counting down in years, Russia's, in months, and the United States and NATO's, which is stalled at the moment but could restart quite quickly.

    Apr 1, 2022

  • News Release

    News Release

    Efforts to Avoid Civilian Casualties in Raqqa, Syria, in 2017 Were Considerable but Insufficient

    U.S. strategic choices in the battle to liberate Raqqa, Syria, from ISIS in 2017 likely increased civilian harm despite considerable efforts to avoid civilian casualties by both U.S. and coalition forces.

    Mar 31, 2022