Ben Connable

Photo of Ben Connable
Senior International Policy Analyst; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Washington Office


Ph.D. in war studies, King's College London; M.A. in national security affairs, Naval Postgraduate School; M.A. in strategic intelligence, American Military University; B.A. in political science, University of Colorado, Boulder

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Ben Connable is a senior international policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and a retired Marine Corps intelligence and Arabic-speaking Foreign Area officer. He focuses on irregular warfare issues and intelligence methodology, and also works on Middle East regional and other warfighting issues in support of U.S. Department of Defense sponsors. Connable has an extensive background in military cultural terrain theory and application, having served as cultural advisor to general officers in Iraq and as the head of the Marine Corps cultural intelligence program. He currently leads RAND's support to the Marine Corps' analytic efforts on Iraq and the Middle East, as well as two projects focused on helping the U.S. Army improve capabilities to address the Russian threat in Europe. Connable received his Ph.D. from King's College London War Studies Department, his M.A. in strategic intelligence from American Military University, his M.A. in national security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School, and his B.A. in political science from the University of Colorado–Boulder.

Recent Projects

  • Russian Measures Short of War
  • End of the Second Offset
  • Strategy to Defeat the Islamic State
  • Lessons from the Syria Crisis Interagency Process
  • Improving U.S. Army Special Operations Intelligence

Selected Publications

Ben Connable, Defeating the Islamic State in Iraq, RAND (CT-418), 2014

Ben Connable, et al., Modeling, Simulation, and Operations Analysis in Afghanistan and Iraq, RAND (RR-382), 2014

Ben Connable, Leveraging Development Aid to Address Root Causes in Counterinsurgency: Balancing Theory and Practice in, RAND (WR-983), 2013

Ben Connable, et al., Assessing Freedom of Movement for Counterinsurgency Campaigns, RAND (TR-1014), 2012

Ben Connable, Embracing the Fog of War: Assessment and Metrics in Counterinsurgency, RAND (MG-1086), 2012

Ben Connable, Military Intelligence Fusion for Complex Operations: A New Paradigm, RAND (OP-377), 2012

Ben Connable and Martin Libicki, How Insurgencies End, RAND (MG-965), 2010

Honors & Awards

  • Lemuel C. Shepherd Memorial Dissertation Fellowship, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation
  • Two Silver Medals for Research, RAND

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Al-Ghad, Jordan

Commentary: CNN; The Hill; Newsweek; U.S. News & World Report; War on the Rocks


  • The Sinjar Resistance Units, an offshoot of a leftist Kurdish organization, and Abdulkhaleq al-Jarba, a Arab tribal militia, have opened up a new front against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, April 30, 2016

    Partitioning Iraq: Make a Detailed Case, or Cease and Desist

    The mostly non-Iraqi voices who want to divide the country into three ethno-sectarian cantonments—Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurd—owe the Iraqi people extensive, detailed clarification. If neither the Iraqi Arab polity nor Iraq's most powerful political factions seek three-way partition, then the case should be closed.

    May 16, 2016 War on the Rocks

  • U.S. and Iraqi officers checking IDs in Baghdad, Iraq, October 2006

    Iraq Reconciliation Requires American Help

    It is time for the United States to step in and take the lead on the crucial process of reconciling the Sunnis with their government in order to bolster the tactical fight against ISIL and to ensure Iraq does not further destabilize.

    May 5, 2016 The National Interest

  • A Syrian refugee carries his son through a rainstorm at the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of Idomeni, November 27, 2015

    To Undermine ISIS, We Should Welcome Syrian Refugees

    Demonstrating American goodwill to Syrian refugees is the best way to help defeat ISIS and rehabilitate America's image in the chaotic Middle East.

    Dec 3, 2015 Newsweek

  • U.S. Army Specialist visits his former high school as part of the Army Special Recruiter Assistance Program

    Go Slow on Arming Recruiters

    Several important voices have argued for arming military recruiters in the wake of the recent shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Giving them a chance to fight back against an active shooter may be a sound proposition, but practicalities of military recruiting suggest a patient and thoughtful policy review.

    Jul 31, 2015 The Hill

  • Mehdi Army fighters loyal to a Shi'ite cleric march during a military-style training in Najaf, June 18, 2014

    A Long-Term Strategy for a Democratic Iraq

    Unfortunately, no strategic option for a unified, democratic Iraq has a good chance of success. But any well-considered option that doesn't involve ineffective killing or risking U.S. lives is preferable to simply allowing Iraq to disintegrate and feed broader regional instability.

    Jun 30, 2014 War on the Rocks

  • Masked Sunni Muslim gunmen take up positions with their weapons during a patrol in the city of Falluja

    Iraq Picture May Not Be as Bleak as It Seems

    Over the past month, al Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made a concerted effort to seize the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. The attacks have received a lot of attention, but ISIS does not represent a majority of Iraqi Sunni in Anbar. Many Sunni Anbari leaders continue to reject al Qaeda.

    Jan 31, 2014 CNN

  • Syrian Americans rally in support of the Bashar al-Assad regime and against proposed U.S. military action against Syria

    A Smarter Way to Stop Syria WMD Attacks

    President Obama made a strong case that the U.S. should take the lead in punishing the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons and actively enforce the near-global ban on these weapons. Now, the possibility of a diplomatic solution to this problem offers an opportunity to improve the request for the authorization of force currently before Congress.

    Sep 19, 2013 CNN

  • Combat Camera,Makinano,OIF,Patrol,3/3ACR,Al Zarai,Saddam Mosque

    The Deeply Mixed Results of the Iraq War

    Ten years after the United States and its allies invaded Iraq, it seems appropriate to ask a bottom-line question: Did the U.S. succeed? The U.S. came very close to losing the Iraq war of 2003-2011, writes Ben Connable.

    Mar 21, 2013 U.S. News & World Report