David A. Shlapak

Senior International Research Analyst; Codirector, Center for Gaming
Washington Office


B.A. in political science, Northwestern University

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 media@rand.org.

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David A. Shlapak is a senior international research analyst at the RAND Corporation and codirector of the RAND Center for Gaming. Since joining RAND in 1982, he has led research on topics ranging from counter-terrorism to nuclear strategy. His primary current areas of research include U.S. national security strategy, the evolving East Asian and European security environments, and the use of gaming and simulation in defense planning. Shlapak is a graduate of Northwestern University and did his graduate work at UCLA.

Recent Projects

  • New challenges to NATO
  • Strategic options for US policy towards China
  • Countering power projection with defensive A2AD
  • Army missions in a collapsing North Korea

Selected Publications

David A. Shlapak, "Towards a More Modest American Strategy," Survival, 57(2), 2015

John Gordon, Agnes G. Schaefer, David Shlapak, Caroline Baxter, Scott Boston, Michael McGee, Todd Nichols, Elizabeth Tencza, Enhanced Army airborne forces: A new joint operational capability, RAND Corporation (RR-309), 2014

Terrence Kelly, James Dobbins, David Shlapak, David Gompert, Eric Heginbotham, Peter Chlak, Llolyd Thrall, The U.S. Army in Asia 2030-2040, RAND Corporation (MG-474), 2014

James Dobbins, David Gompert, David Shlapak, Andrew Scobell, Conflict with China: Prospects, consequences, and strategies for deterrence, RAND Corporation (OP-344), 2011

Recent Media Appearances

Commentary: United Press International; U.S. News & World Report; War on the Rocks


  • World map with global communication lines.

    The Made-in-America Global Security and Economic System Still Serves U.S. Interests

    The next U.S. president will have many willing partners and an opportunity to expand the global system of security and economic institutions in a way that will help the United States and the world for decades.

    Oct 26, 2016 The Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin watches honor guards during a wreath-laying ceremony near the Kremlin in Moscow, May 9, 2016

    The West Must Do Far More to Keep Putin at Bay

    Russia is more willing than the West to use military power, even though it has less of it. The West should reconsider whether its efforts to deter Russian military interference are enough.

    Aug 27, 2016 Newsweek

  • David Shlapak

    Gaming and Public Policy: Q&A with David Shlapak

    David Shlapak discusses how using games in research can help improve decisionmaking across a wide range of areas, including national security, health care, and climate change.

    Aug 11, 2016

  • Lithuanian Land Forces fire a smoke screen from an M113A1 Armored Personnel Carrier during a joint exercise with their American partners in Rukla, Lithuania, May 22, 2015

    In Defense of a Wargame: Bolstering Deterrence on NATO's Eastern Flank

    A series of wargames examined the potential results of a Russian invasion of the Baltic states. While such an invasion appears unlikely, its consequences would be so dangerous that not taking steps to deter it more robustly would be imprudent.

    Jun 14, 2016 War on the Rocks

  • Russian paratroopers wait to board a helicopter during a military exercise outside the southern city of Stavropol, Russia, October 27, 2015

    Outnumbered, Outranged, and Outgunned: How Russia Defeats NATO

    Today NATO is outnumbered, outranged, and outgunned by Russia in Europe and beset by a number of compounding factors that make the situation worse. But it is possible to begin restoring a more robust deterrent posture and to do so at a price tag that appears affordable.

    Apr 21, 2016 War on the Rocks

  • Naval officers from the Colombian, Brazilian, and U.S. Navy work together as a control group at U.S. Naval War College during the 2013 Inter-American War Game

    Gaming the System: Obstacles to Reinvigorating Defense Wargaming

    Reinvigorating wargaming in the defense community offers great potential value given the complex strategic situation that the U.S. faces today. DoD should educate sponsors and consumers about the appropriate use of wargames, set realistic expectations, and build the right amount of risk acceptance into its gaming enterprise.

    Feb 18, 2016 War on the Rocks

  • Tank silhouette at sunset

    Destroy ISIL's Heavy Weapons and Vehicles: Level the Playing Field

    More than any other option, employing air power decisively to deny ISIL the ability to use its armor and artillery has the potential to immediately and dramatically shift the battlefield balance against it.

    Oct 20, 2014 War on the Rocks

  • A Pro-Russian separatist stands near the damaged war memorial at Savur-Mohyla, east of the city of Donetsk, Ukraine

    A Dispatch from the Ukrainian Front

    If Putin sought advice about what NATO is thinking, his Russian Western Front Military commander might say that given its current political indecisiveness and lack of military readiness, NATO lacks the capability to launch a credible intervention, but they should watch for changes in the alliance posture.

    Sep 5, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

  • Joint Multinational Training Command

    Russia Is Outmanned and Outgunned

    Despite the smaller number of U.S. troops in Europe, the military balance there is far more favorable to NATO today than it was when nearly 10 times as many American soldiers, sailors and airmen were stationed on the continent.

    Apr 10, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

  • A Japanese Coast Guard patrol vessel passes by Uotsuri, the largest island in the Senkaku/Diaoyu chain

    America's Delicate Dance in the Pacific

    Even if Japan and China ease the tensions in their dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyus islands, the United States should gird itself for further uncomfortable contingencies in the coming years, writes David Shlapak.

    Mar 28, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  • America's Long Wars

    Published commentary by RAND staff: America's Long Wars, in United Press International.

    Feb 1, 2007 United Press International