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.

  • Italian air force F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoons fly in formation over Italy during a training mission, courtesy photo, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa

    Report

    European Contributions to NATO's Future Combat Airpower

    Oct 22, 2020

    European air forces currently have limited capabilities for defending allies in high-intensity conflict. However, Europe's airpower is trending in the right direction, especially with the introduction of fifth-generation aircraft.

  • A Delta IV rocket successfully launches the Global Positioning System IIF-5 satellite from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, February 20, 2014, photo by Ben Cooper/United Launch Alliance

    Research Brief

    What Will the Future of Warfare Look Like?

    May 11, 2020

    Poor predictions about wars stem from failing to think holistically about the factors that drive changes in the global environment and their implications for warfare. Geopolitical, economic, military, space, nuclear, cyber, and other trends will shape the contours of conflict through 2030.

Explore Warfare and Military Operations

  • A man wearing a t-shirt with an image of Zakir Rashid Bhat, the leader of an al Qaeda affiliated militant group in Kashmir, in Dadasara, Kashmir, May 24, 2019, photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is al Qaida Still a Threat?

    Nineteen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, does al Qaida still pose a significant threat to U.S. national security? Among researchers, military and intelligence officials, and policymakers who study the group, there is little consensus. An accurate assessment of al Qaida's organizational health must take into account the group's recent and dramatic resurrection.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • Syrian refugees cross into Jordanian territory, near the town of Ruwaished, 149 miles east of Amman, December 5, 2013, photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

    Report

    Stabilizing Eastern Syria After ISIS

    Eastern Syrian communities are no longer occupied by ISIS but they are in a fraught political environment where the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government have both expanded their presence and some ISIS fighters remain. What are the region's most urgent needs and is there a viable strategy to build near-term stability?

    Sep 8, 2020

  • Two USAF A-10 Thunderbolt IIs release countermeasure flares over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, July 23, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Parsons/U.S. Air Force

    Q&A

    The Future of Warfare: Q&A with Raphael Cohen

    What will the next decade of warfare look like? Raphael Cohen led a project to answer that question for the U.S. Air Force. The team considered not just technological or force changes, but also how global politics, economics, and the environment will shift and evolve between now and 2030.

    Sep 8, 2020

  • Senior Airman Colby Cook, 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects an F-35A Lightning II before takeoff at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Nov. 16, 2017. The F-35A is the Air Force's latest low observable fifth-generation fighter incorporating stealth technology, photo by Naoto Anazawa/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Evaluating Alternative Maintenance Manpower Force Structure Concepts for the F-35A

    The authors of this report evaluate the costs and benefits of maintenance manpower force structures in the U.S. Air Force that merge maintenance career fields in different ways, including alternatives that are being explored by the Air Force today.

    Sep 3, 2020

  • NATO flags fly at summit meetings of Heads of State and Government in Strasbourg, France

    Project

    Defense and Security Research at RAND Europe

    In a climate of uncertainty and rapidly evolving threats, RAND Europe equips clients with the evidence-based analysis they need to inform their decisionmaking on topics ranging from equipment acquisition and personnel policy to cyber security and counter violent extremism.

    Sep 2, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Strategies for Acquisition Agility: Approaches for Speeding Delivery of Defense Capabilities

    The authors analyze various approaches to speed acquisition of military capabilities and keep pace with evolving threats, assess these approaches' suitability for different conditions and acquisition types, and identify implementation issues.

    Aug 27, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    The Future of Warfare Boxed Set

    This series of reports examines the key geopolitical, economic, environmental, geographic, legal, informational, and military trends that will shape the contours of conflict between now and 2030.

    Aug 26, 2020

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a drill of long-range artillery sub-units of the Korean People's Army, March 2, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Report

    How Does North Korean Leadership Make Decisions?

    With talks between the United States and North Korea at a standstill, U.S. policymakers must consider what the regime might do next and know what signs or decisions to look for. Will Kim open the DPRK economy? What if conventional deterrence fails on the Korean Peninsula? And what could lead to the use of nuclear weapons?

    Aug 20, 2020

  • The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., photo by lucky-photographer/Getty Images

    Blog

    Summer Reading List for Congress

    During the August recess Hill staff should have an opportunity to step back from the fast pace of votes and hearing preparation to examine priorities for the fall and beyond. This list of must-read research and commentary covers some policy issues they will likely be addressing after the break.

    Aug 18, 2020

  • A missile is seen launched during a military drill in North Korea, May 10, 2019, photo by Korean Central News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    In North Korea, The U.S. Could Take the Lead

    North Korea is hurting: its economy is stagnant and it is having trouble feeding even its elites because of the UN/U.S. sanctions designed to pressure North Korean toward denuclearization. A combined carrot and stick approach may help overcome some of North Korea's reluctance to negotiate the future of its nuclear weapons program.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • A member of the Three Percent militia in downtown Stone Mountain, Georgia, where various militia groups stage rallies, August 15, 2020, photo by Dustin Chambers/Reuters

    Commentary

    Could 2020 Spawn '70s-Style Radicalization and Violence?

    The U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic has further cleaved an already deeply divided society. The conditions facing the United States today are reminiscent of those that gave rise to the radicalism of the 1970s and could once again lead to political violence, including terrorism.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • Protesters with a group known as "Antifa", or anti-fascists, link arms at an event on the campus of the University of Virginia organized by the group Students Act Against White Supremacy marking the one year anniversary of a deadly clash between white supremacists and counter protesters August 11, 2018 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Multimedia

    The Consequences of Designating Antifa as a Terrorist Organization

    RAND senior policy researcher Heather J. Williams describes the major strategic changes that could occur if Antifa were designated as a terrorist organization.

    Aug 11, 2020

  • Twitter logo and binary cyber codes, November 26, 2019, photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Commentary

    Insider Threat at Twitter Is a Risk to Everyone

    Three young hackers were charged in the hijacking of dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts. Their tactics point out how vulnerabilities at tech platforms can pose a risk to national security.

    Aug 7, 2020

  • A throng of shoppers in Myungdong, downtown Seoul, South Korea, July 17, 2011, photo by United Nations/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Report

    A North Korean Artillery Attack Could Kill Thousands in Only an Hour

    North Korea maintains nearly 6,000 artillery systems within range of major South Korean population centers. Five attack scenarios show that casualties could range from 4,500 to more than 200,000. The United States and South Korea should avoid military provocation cycles that could lead to these attacks.

    Aug 6, 2020

  • The U.N. Security Council's five permanent members (P5) attend a Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons conference in Beijing, China, January 30, 2019, photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

    Commentary

    Negotiating with Great Powers on Nuclear Arms

    New START, the U.S.-Russia arms control treaty, expires in February 2021. Washington insists that any follow-on accord must include China. But overcoming Beijing's reticence to engage in nuclear talks will likely take deft diplomacy, time, and patience.

    Aug 3, 2020

  • Blog

    China in 2050, Using Mobile Tools to Track COVID-19, Telemedicine: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the future of U.S.-China competition, privacy concerns surrounding mobile tools used to track COVID-19, how telemedicine can help patients access specialized care, and more.

    Jul 31, 2020

  • A group of U.S. NATO Implementation Force (IFOR) soldiers climb off a destroyed Bosnian tank March 16, 1996, that was hit in 1992, at the beginning of the war between Bosnian Moslem and Serbs, photo by Peter Andrews/Reuters

    Report

    Why America Fails in Irregular Warfare

    A memoir drawn from four decades of experience in the U.S. Army explores the strengths and limitations of America's irregular warfare capability. The author, who often saw success at the tactical level only to be followed by strategic muddling and eventual failure, offers ideas on how to develop a world-class way of irregular war.

    Jul 29, 2020

  • North Korean and South Korean Flags

    Multimedia

    Rising Tensions Between the Two Koreas

    RAND policy analyst Soo Kim describes how the United States, South Korea, and Japan might respond to North Korea's recent provocations.

    Jul 27, 2020

  • Sudan's Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, head of Military Transitional Council, and the military's chief of staff Lieutenant General Kamal Abdul Murof Al-mahi shake hands after being sworn in as leaders of Military Transitional Council in Sudan in this still image taken from video on April 11, 2019, photo by Sudan TV/Reuters

    Commentary

    Can Sudan Escape Its History as a Hub for Violent Extremists?

    Sudan continues to confront major challenges that could derail its path back to the mainstream of international politics. Sudan must show that it is no longer a haven for terrorist and violent extremist groups and that it is committed to ensuring that this remains true.

    Jul 24, 2020

  • Internally displaced Syrians drive back to their homes, as some people are afraid of the COVID-19 outbreak in crowded camps, in Dayr Ballut, Syria, April 11, 2020, photo by Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

    Commentary

    U.S. Is Just Getting Started in New Bid to End the War in Syria

    In June, the U.S. government announced the implementation of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act with a flurry of sanctions against 39 people and entities connected with the Assad regime. There is much more to come. Syria, and Russia and Iran, have not yet felt the Caesar Act in full force.

    Jul 22, 2020