National Defense Research Institute (NDRI)

The National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), conducts RAND research for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the defense agencies, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Navy. RAND research for the U.S. Air Force is carried out within RAND Project AIR FORCE, while research for the U.S. Army is carried out within RAND Arroyo Center.

The primary function of NDRI is research on complex national defense policy and strategy problems, where multidisciplinary capability, objectivity, and an explicit national-interest charter are essential. The NDRI Director is Jack Riley. NDRI research program is overseen by an advisory board composed of representatives of key sponsors within DoD. NDRI research is conducted within five centers: Acquisition and Technology Policy, Forces and Resources Policy, Homeland Security and Defense Center, Intelligence Policy, and International Security and Defense Policy.

As an FFRDC, NDRI has a special relationship with its research sponsors. The primary source of analytic expertise for OSD and other DoD elements over the past 30 years, NDRI has established a unique, irreplaceable capability and capacity. NDRI researchers have acquired an in-depth knowledge of OSD’s requirements and institutional character and have used these to suggest innovative, effective ways of implementing current policy as well as to evaluate new, realistic policy options. The efficiency of the research effort has been aided by the development and maintenance of a base of knowledge and theory—that is, an institutional memory—as well as a suite of methods and tools. This infrastructure not only aids in and is further elaborated by long-term research efforts but also stands ready to support high-priority, short-run sponsor analytic needs.

Work performed in NDRI is described in detail in the NSRD Annual Report.

NDRI Research Centers

NDRI operates through five interconnected centers:

  • The Acquisition and Technology Policy Center (ATP) addresses opportunities and challenges presented by advances in technology, in particular those enabled by the information revolution. It identifies ways to preserve and strengthen the nation’s military industrial base, along with innovative weapon system acquisition strategies.
  • The Forces and Resources Policy Center (FRP) analyzes issues affecting DoD’s human resources. These include policy options that help ensure that the United States is able to attract and retain high-quality military personnel, appropriately support the families of military personnel, and efficiently provide health care to service members, retirees, and their dependents.
  • The Homeland Security and Defense Center (HSDC) conducts analysis on domestic security and emergency management to prepare and protect communities and critical infrastructure from natural disasters, transnational crime, and terrorism.
  • The Intelligence Policy Center (IPC) maintains a broad, substantive focus that spans international security, acquisition, and manpower issues affecting the collection, evaluation, and dissemination of national-security intelligence.
  • The International Security and Defense Policy Center (ISDP) explores how the global security environment is changing; how those new conditions affect U.S. interests; and what policies, strategies, and terms of U.S. engagement are needed to shape the environment and protect those interests.

The work of the centers corresponds closely with the responsibilities of four of the under secretaries in the Office of the Secretary of Defense — those for Policy, Acquisition and Technology, Personnel and Readiness, and Intelligence — and their counterparts in the military services. These centers carry out an integrated research plan reflecting the critical relationships among strategy, technology, and personnel. The Intelligence Policy Center also provides research and analytical support to the agencies of the national intelligence community and links to other intelligence efforts within the Arroyo Center and Project AIR FORCE. The Homeland Security and Defense Center is a joint center of the RAND National Security Research Division and RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.