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

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, November 20, 2018, photo by Mark Cristino/Reuters

    Commentary

    China Refuses to Quit on the Philippines

    When the Filipino people elected Rodrigo Duterte to become their next president in May 2016, China saw a distinct opportunity to pull the longtime U.S. ally away from Washington and into Beijing's strategic orbit. But it remains to be seen how the long-term geopolitical competition between the United States and China over the Philippines will play out.

    Jul 22, 2020

  • A man seated in front of a computer monitor in a dark room, photo by tommaso79/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Deadly Terrorist Threats Abound. Here Are the Key Dangers

    Today's self-selecting solo terrorists answer only to their god, whether seeking to destroy all government, pursuing racial separation or genocidal goals, expressing sexual dissatisfaction, or simply wanting to leave their mark. Military operations are irrelevant. This is a deeper societal problem.

    Jul 20, 2020

  • A Standard Missile (SM) 3 Block IIA is launched from the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai , HI, December. 10, 2018, photo by U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Is Japan's Interest in Enemy Base Attack Capabilities a Good Idea?

    In the span of a month, Tokyo has rapidly gone from canceling a ballistic missile defense system to considering strike capabilities against foreign adversaries. Is Japan on the precipice of dramatically changing the way it uses its military?

    Jul 17, 2020

  • Blog

    COVID Learning Loss, Russian Trolls, Artificial Intelligence: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on helping students recover learning losses, fighting Russian trolls, racial disparity in unemployment benefits, the race for AI leadership, and more.

    Jul 17, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Improving Acquisition to Support the Space Enterprise Vision

    A new RAND report examines potential acquisition approaches to support the Space Enterprise Vision and identifies several promising ones that merit in-depth examination: modular open system architectures, agile acquisition, rapid prototyping.

    Jul 15, 2020

  • A view of a damaged building after a fire broke out at Iran's Natanz Nuclear Facility, in Isfahan, Iran, July 2, 2020, photo by Wana News Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    An Israeli Escalation Against Iran?

    Israeli involvement in recent attacks on Iran would not be surprising, and more such attacks might be coming. However, Israel's bet that the Iranians will not respond is risky. It's hard to control escalation when things are so volatile, especially as hardline Iranian leaders may increase pressure to retaliate.

    Jul 15, 2020

  • Examples of Facebook pages displayed during a House Intelligence Committee meeting on Russian use of social media to influence U.S. elections in Washington, D.C., November 1, 2017, photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    Commentary

    How You Can Fight Russia's Plans to Troll Americans During Campaign 2020

    The goal of Russian interference is to trigger emotional reactions and drive people to ideological extremes, making it nearly impossible to build a consensus. But Americans are less likely to have their emotions manipulated if they are aware that manipulation is the goal.

    Jul 14, 2020

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan at the annual NATO heads of government summit in Watford, UK, December 4, 2019, photo by Peter Nicholls/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Way Forward for the United States and Turkey

    Relations between the United States and Turkey, while fraught with tension, must also align with a mutual interest in stability in the Middle East and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. It may be important for the region's stability and prosperity to find constructive ways for the United States to work with Turkey in the years ahead.

    Jul 9, 2020

  • The U.S. 7th Fleet amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) approaches the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet Base East on Garden Island in Sydney July 15, 2013, U.S. Navy Photo

    Commentary

    The Indo-Pacific Contest: It Could be Time for Fresh Ideas on Allied Security Cooperation

    U.S. and Australian interests in the Pacific and Southeast Asia face unprecedented challenges from China, and Australia may not be able to handle them on its own. Momentum is growing for heightened cooperation between Australia and the United States.

    Jul 8, 2020

  • U.S. Army Pfc. Shawn Williams of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based in Fort Wainwright, Alaska, gives the thumbs-up to members of his unit as he is evacuated after being injured by a roadside bomb, Friday, June 17, 2011, in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan.U.S. Army Pfc. Shawn Williams of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based in Fort Wainwright, Alaska, gives the thumbs-up to members of his unit as he is evacuated after being injured by a roadside bomb, Friday, June 17, 2011, in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, photo by Lt.j.g. Haraz Ghanbari/U.S. Army

    Report

    Limb Salvage and Recovery After Severe Blast Injury

    Although there is a vast literature on limb salvage, there is limited research on military blast-related limb salvage. What can be learned from the evidence and innovations about restoration and reconstruction after limb salvage for severe blast-related limb injury?

    Jul 6, 2020

  • U.S. Army 1st Lt. Shaun Lawson, Cpl. Marvin Carson and Sgt. John Delgado, assigned to Charlie Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Theater Signal Brigade, manage the company network operations (NETOPS) cell monitoring the networks at exercise Allied Spirit VIII, Jan. 30, 2018 at the Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, photo by William B. King/U.S. Army

    Report

    Frameworks for Assessing USEUCOM Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade

    Campaigns to inform, influence, and persuade a range of foreign audiences are critical to achieving key U.S. national security objectives, but it can be challenging to assess the effectiveness of these efforts. How can assessment design and planning support U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) efforts?

    Jul 2, 2020

  • Counterterrorism police stand guard at the annual Gay Pride Parade in Greenwich Village, June 25, 2017, photo by PeskyMonkey/Getty Images

    Commentary

    The Growing Irrelevance of Organizational Structure for U.S. Domestic Terrorism

    For decades, America's primary terrorist threat came from groups based abroad. Today, a new crop of terrorist actors is emerging from within our own borders. Although diverse and for the most part unconnected to each other, they share a common objective of disrupting society and in the process, overturning existing norms if not the entire political, social, and economic order.

    Jul 2, 2020

  • An Airman with the 238th Air Support Operations Squadron prepares for a close air support exercise during Southern Strike 2020 at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, MS, February 3, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Izabella Workman/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare' by Christian Brose

    As the Pentagon and commercial technologists continue to explore the potential of commercial technologies for the military and work towards greater adoption, they may wish to focus not only on lowering bureaucratic barriers but also on managing expectations about what technologies will be most beneficial and how they will be used.

    Jul 2, 2020

  • A Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile system fires a missile during the International Army Games 2017 outside Astrakhan, Russia, August 5, 2017, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Drone-Era Warfare Shows the Operational Limits of Air Defense Systems

    External powers have intervened in the civil wars in Libya and Syria, supplying advanced conventional weapons that have intensified the conflicts. But not all of the weapons have performed as claimed.

    Jul 2, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Joint All-Domain Command and Control for Modern Warfare: An Analytic Framework for Identifying and Developing Artificial Intelligence Applications

    The authors examine and recommend opportunities for applying artificial intelligence and, more broadly, automation to deliberate planning for joint all-domain command and control for the U.S. Air Force.

    Jul 1, 2020

  • A radio telescope in front of a field of stars

    Report

    Opportunities for Including the Information Environment in U.S. Marine Corps Wargames

    Wargaming is enjoying renewed prominence in the defense community, yet the information environment remains underdeveloped and underrepresented in wargames.

    Jul 1, 2020

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures during the joint press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018, photo by Lehtikuva/Jussi Nukari/Reuters

    Commentary

    Take the Bird in the Hand. Strike a Nuclear Weapons Deal with Russia

    By extending New START, the Trump administration would preserve verifiable constraints on Russia's nuclear arsenal, buy time to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement, and pave the way for arms talks about intermediate-range missiles.

    Jul 1, 2020

  • Virtual human 3D illustration with computer code, photo by monsitj/Getty Images

    Commentary

    A Machine Learning Approach Could Help Counter Disinformation

    Disinformation has become a central feature of the COVID-19 crisis. This type of malign information and high-tech “deepfake” imagery poses a risk to democratic societies worldwide by increasing public mistrust in governments and public authorities. New research highlights new ways to detect and dispel disinformation online.

    Jun 25, 2020

  • Illustration of social media users and trolls, image by dem10/Getty Images

    Report

    Machine Learning Can Help Detect Misinformation Online

    As social media is increasingly being used as a primary source for news, there is a rising threat from the spread of malign and false information. A new machine learning model identified differences between authentic political supporters and Russian trolls shaping online debates about the 2016 U.S. election. How could the model be applied in the future?

    Jun 23, 2020

  • A U.S. military B1B Lancer on the tarmac of Andersen Air Force base, on the island of Guam, August 17, 2017, photo by Joseph Campbell/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan and Dynamic Force Employment

    In April, the United States ended a program that maintained a rotational bomber force to the U.S. territory of Guam. While the removal of a permanent bomber presence in the region has caused some in Japan to worry, U.S. commitment to Japan's defense shows no sign of changing nor does America's deterrent capability.

    Jun 23, 2020