International Security and Defense Policy Center

Iraqi Police

The RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center (ISDP) analyzes changes in the international political, strategic, economic, and technological environment and helps DoD develop policies to shape the environment and advance U.S. interests.

Terrorism and the potential proliferation of weapons of mass destruction have become the most pressing challenges to U.S. national security. By helping U.S. policymakers gain an understanding of how terrorism intersects with other emerging threats, ISDP research assists the U.S. national security community in devising options to protect American and allied interests at home and abroad.

More generally, the Center's international policy research addresses how the United States should engage its military resources and other advantages in peacetime to shape the behavior of key partners, key transition states, and potential enemies. The Center identifies and estimates new threats, including hostile nonstate actors able to operate transnationally. The Center's primary sponsors are the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; the Joint Staff’s Directorate of Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment (J-8); and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Networks and Information Integration).

Current and Recent Contributions

  • Understanding the New Threat Environment
    How and in what way do new challenges–from terrorists, insurgents, weapons of mass destruction, and the proliferation of technology–that the United States faces at home and abroad color America´s definition of and approach to national security? How will changes in the international economic, diplomatic, political, and alliance environments affect U.S. interests and capabilities? How will those changes and threats–from states, non–states, and other traditional and non–traditional sources– affect the United States´ ability to engage and project its power?
  • US soldiers engaging in urban ops
  • Developing Strategies to Deal with the New Threat Environment
    How should the United States adapt its national security strategies, operations, and instruments to shape the international environment, address emerging threats to U.S. interests, and accommodate new technologies and tactics? How should the military Services adapt strategies and tactics to meet existing and emerging threats, both internationally and domestically as part of homeland defense?
  • Dealing with Failing States and Conducting Stabilization and Counterinsurgency Missions
    What are the sources of state failures? What characteristics of failing states are most likely to present a long–term threat to the United States and the international community? By what means, short of military intervention and long–term peacekeeping, can minimally acceptable levels of governance be assured or restored in such areas? What strategies should the United States employ to stabilize states after armed conflict in the midst of ongoing insurgencies? What investments might the United States make to improve its future performance of post–conflict stabilization and counterinsurgency missions, and how might the federal government as a whole organize itself better to support such missions in the future?
  • Maintaining Coalitions and Sharing Burdens
    What are the likely future needs for coalition support and what suggested steps might increase the likelihood that such cooperation would be forthcoming when needed? What obstacles to allied participation in common operations exist? How might these obstacles be reduced, given the desire to promote more effective burden sharing in the future? What lessons learned can the United States take from its experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the wider war on terrorism to strengthen and perpetuate allied and regional cooperation? What changes in international structures might the United States promote to improve the capacity of others to contribute to post conflict stabilization missions?

Inquiries about the RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center or its activities can be directed to:

Erin Conaton
Director, RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center
RAND Corporation
RAND Corporation
1200 South Hayes Street
Arlington, VA 22202-5050
(703) 413-1100 x5286