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

  • President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine delivers a virtual address to Congress in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2022, photo by Sarahbeth Maney/Pool/Sipa USA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Why It Could Be a Strategic Mistake to Rule Out a No-Fly Zone Policy

    The United States has been willing to entertain many forms of support to Ukraine, but senior administration and congressional leaders have categorically ruled out declaring a no-fly zone over the country. While American policymakers are rightfully hesitant to implement a no-fly zone policy, it could be a strategic mistake to say so in public.

    Mar 16, 2022

  • An empty airport terminal at Sheremetyevo International Airport after Aeroflot suspended most international flights in order to keep leased aircraft from being detained due to sanctions, in Moscow, Russia, March 8, 2022, photo by Artyom Geodakyan/Reuters

    Commentary

    Where Is Business in Russia?

    Businesses in Russia have little hope of making a full recovery and operating normally in the global economy unless the West lifts its extraordinary sanctions. Political and civic engagement may be essential to protect their value and the interests of shareholders and employees.

    Mar 16, 2022

  • An application that helps Lithuanians to call Russians to discuss the war in Ukraine in an effort to help end the war, in Vilnius, Lithuania, March 9, 2022, photo by Janis Laizans/Reuters

    Commentary

    Keeping Russians Informed About Ukraine Could Help End This War

    Russia has taken increasingly aggressive actions to restrict access of information about the war in Ukraine. Ensuring that the Russian people know the truth about what their government is doing in Ukraine could bring this war to an end soon rather than later.

    Mar 14, 2022

  • Private security company owner Wang Haichun takes part in a training session with his employees in Hangzhou, China, March 6, 2018, photo by Tu meifei/Reuters

    Commentary

    China's Security Contractors Have Avoided the Fate of Russia's Military Contractors, So Far

    China's approach to private security contractors is much more limited in scope and effects than Russia's use of private military contractors. But indicators suggest that Chinese planners see benefits in expanding and maturing China's use of private contractors, which creates the potential for dangerous results for China and the rest of the world.

    Mar 11, 2022

  • Image grab from footage released by Russia Ministry of Defense on March 10, 2022 shows Russian soldiers from airborne units advance in an undisclosed location in Ukraine, photo by EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    How Russia's War in Ukraine Could Escalate

    Russia's attack on Ukraine has raised concerns in many Western capitals of an even-worse outcome: escalation to a broader war with NATO allies which could involve nuclear weapons. While such a war is far from inevitable, the possibility of the current conflict spiraling beyond the immediate theater of hostilities is real. Understanding how that could happen is essential to minimizing the risk that it does.

    Mar 11, 2022

  • Periodical

    Periodical

    RAND Review: March-April 2022

    The cover story describes a yearlong study of a group of military veterans experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. Other features examine the global digital skills gap and the magnitude and sources of disagreement among gun policy experts.

    Mar 10, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Cyber Mission Thread Analysis: A Prototype Framework for Assessing Impact to Missions from Cyber Attacks to Weapon Systems

    A decision to mitigate or accept a risk from a cyber attack to a weapon system depends on the operational mission impact. This proposed method for assessing mission impact is at once comprehensive and simple enough to scale across the U.S. Air Force.

    Mar 10, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Cyber Mission Thread Analysis: An Implementation Guide for Process Planning and Execution

    Cyber mission thread analysis, which identifies mission-critical systems in a cyber threat environment, requires a disciplined, well-planned process for its execution. This report provides a proposed guide for its planning and implementation.

    Mar 10, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    It's Getting Harder to Do: Countering Terrorist Use of the Internet

    Terrorists continue to use the Internet to plan, train, recruit, and execute terrorist attacks. This book chapter examines how terrorist Internet use has changed over time and new social media platforms make terrorism investigations harder to do.

    Mar 9, 2022

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, Russia September 29, 2021, photo by Vladimir Smirnov/Sputnik via Reuters

    Commentary

    Is Putin Irrational? What Nuclear Strategic Theory Says About Deterrence of Potentially Irrational Opponents

    Increasingly isolated and desperate, Putin might try to suddenly escalate the Ukraine conflict rather than back down in the face of international opposition. The United States and its allies must account for the possibility that even in the face of credible deterrent threats Putin might double down and lash out.

    Mar 8, 2022

  • U.S. soldiers observe from a rooftop position in Mosul, Iraq

    Multimedia

    Press Briefing on U.S. Department of Defense Civilian Casualty Policies and Procedures

    Researchers from the RAND Corporation brief the press on an independent RAND assessment of U.S. Department of Defense standards, processes, procedures, and policies relating to civilian casualties resulting from U.S. military operations.

    Mar 8, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Executive Summary of the Study Into Measures to Prevent Terrorist Attacks with Vehicles and Mitigate the Impacts Thereof

    This study examines the measures to prevent terrorist attacks with vehicles to improve the evidence on attacks that have occurred since 2013 and understand what measures could be employed to prevent or mitigate such attacks in the future.

    Mar 8, 2022

  • Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at Palais Coburg for nuclear talks Vienna, Austria, February 28, 2022, photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Renewed Nuclear Deal With Iran: Turning Back the Clock?

    Diplomats from Europe, the United States, Russia, China, and Iran are in Vienna trying to revive the Iran nuclear agreement of 2015. But even if negotiations succeed, the post-deal environment could be much more unstable than it was seven years ago.

    Mar 4, 2022

  • Red world map with areas circled, illustration by traffic_analyzer/Getty Images

    Report

    Competition and Restraint in Cyberspace

    Recent years have seen a mounting concern in the United States over foreign efforts to harm election security or legitimacy through cyber means, an increase in cyber espionage, and attacks of growing sophistication. How could international norms help constrain such destabilizing behavior in cyberspace?

    Mar 4, 2022

  • Global communication network concept network dots surrounding planet earth with focus on America. Information exchange via satellites, illustration by Thomas/Adobe Stock

    Report

    How Space Might Be Used Between Now and 2050

    The number of space-related activities conducted by government, military, and commercial actors around the world is increasing. How will the way space is used change? Who will the key actors be? And what can be done to ensure a more future-proof space strategy?

    Mar 2, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Prioritizing Security Cooperation with Highly Capable U.S. Allies: Framing Army-to-Army Partnerships

    In this report, researchers present recommendations for enabling the U.S. Army to better prioritize and coordinate its security cooperation activities with its allies for coalition operations and engagements in third countries.

    Mar 1, 2022

  • Ukrainian service members at a check point after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, February 27, 2022, photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Kind of Resistance Can Ukraine Mount?

    Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered general mobilization, and Ukrainians are already engaging in irregular warfare and preparing for a prolonged resistance. What might a comprehensive Ukrainian resistance entail? What is the potential effectiveness, and what are the risks? What support could the international community provide?

    Feb 28, 2022

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky chairs an urgent meeting with leadership of the government, and representatives of the defense and economic sectors, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 24, 2022, photo by Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    Continuity of Government in Ukraine

    On February 23 Russia launched a war on Ukraine. Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky and its parliament might accelerate steps to ensure the continuity of government, a need made more urgent because of the risk that Kyiv could soon fall.

    Feb 25, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Scenarios of Transnational Islamist Terrorism. Trends and Developments: A Fact-Based Threat Assessment

    Some scholars have speculated that the current religious wave of terrorism, epitomized by the global jihadist movement, might finally be starting to ebb. But the movement could very well roar back to life.

    Feb 25, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Atomization of Political Violence

    The conclusion that terrorism is likely to persist at low levels does not preclude large-scale attacks. The present tumultuous state of the world and growing domestic extremism could produce dramatic changes in the future trajectory of political violence.

    Feb 25, 2022