Counterterrorism

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Terrorism has been a long-standing challenge for the international community. With its significant body of work on terrorism, RAND has an impressive record of advising the public on individual preparedness, first responders on crisis management, and policymakers on counterterrorism strategies at home and abroad.

Explore Counterterrorism

  • A soldier watches the sun rise after spending the night on a night observation post

    Commentary

    Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    It is relatively easy to criticize what's going wrong in Afghanistan. It is much harder to propose a realistic way forward. Seth Jones and Keith Crane in a new report, “Afghanistan After the Drawdown,” suggest a calibrated political and military approach that protects U.S. interests at a realistic level of manpower and investment.

    Dec 6, 2013

  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai attends the last day of the Loya Jirga, in Kabul November 24, 2013

    Commentary

    Just Ignore Karzai and Press On

    As important as a bilateral security agreement is to formalize America's long-term presence in Afghanistan. The current draft doesn't spell out the details of a U.S. military presence after 2014, including the size, composition, and strategy of U.S. forces. Those details are what matter most.

    Nov 26, 2013

  • USS Dewey (DDG 105) Fire Controlmen Speak with a Royal Brunei Navy officer During CARAT

    Report

    What Security Cooperation Mechanisms Do Combatant Commands Utilize to Build Partner Capacity?

    Security cooperation with allies and partner countries is an important instrument of the U.S. government for advancing national security objectives. This report characterizes security cooperation mechanisms for capacity-building, produces a detailed database of the mechanism elements, develops and applies a preliminary means of evaluating select mechanisms, and recommends ways to improve mechanism effectiveness and efficiency.

    Nov 22, 2013

  • a security forces operation in Logar province, Afghanistan

    Commentary

    The Missing Option for Afghanistan: A Response to Steve Biddle

    We don't have to settle for a choice between losing and losing expensively, writes Paul Miller. We can choose to sustain our commitment to the Afghans and secure our vital interests in South Asia. There is thus a heavy burden on the president to make a politically risky move against popular opinion.

    Nov 5, 2013

  • Pakistani girl holds up a picture she drew depicting the U.S. drone strike on her village which killed her grandmother

    Commentary

    The Downside of Drones

    The chief political drawback is that target countries' populations view drone attacks as violations of their sovereignty every bit as much as manned raids. The chief military drawback: A drone attack destroys the critical intelligence that is needed to ensure that the tactical strike can be converted to strategic advantage.

    Nov 1, 2013

  • People hold posters of senior al Qaeda figure Abu Anas al-Liby during a demonstration over his capture by U.S. authorities

    Commentary

    How War on Terrorism Has Evolved

    Special operations to capture terrorists are more dangerous than drone strikes, and nimble terrorist adversaries will develop countermeasures to make them even more difficult. But they are politically more acceptable and offer opportunities for intelligence and the visible delivery of justice.

    Oct 24, 2013

  • The opening of the 1st Afghan National Army Special Operations Brigade, Aug. 20, 2013

    Commentary

    The Future of Counterterrorism: Fewer Drones, More Partnerships

    Drones are just one of three principal U.S. counterterrorism tools. Special Operations forces are now relying on a more balanced mix of tactics: Launching raids and developing partner forces offer more versatility than drone strikes and will probably become the wave of the future as America's big wars wind down.

    Oct 21, 2013

  • Cover of Linda Robinson's book One Hundred Victories

    Blog

    Robinson Book on Special Ops Earns Plaudits

    Linda Robinson's One Hundred Victories shows how special operations forces are evolving to become the go-to force for military operations worldwide. The author, a senior international policy analyst at RAND, draws from her own on-the-ground reporting and interviews with key players inside the national defense community.

    Oct 17, 2013

  • U.S. marines during a live-fire exercise on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio

    Blog

    Do U.S. Raids in Libya, Somalia Signal a Shift in Terror Strategy?

    The raids that the United States conducted over the weekend in Libya and Somalia could signal a new focus in Washington on capturing terrorist suspects and gathering intelligence rather than relying on drone strikes. RAND experts Linda Robinson, Angel Rabasa, and Seth Jones comment.

    Oct 10, 2013

  • Commercial Book

    One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare

    In One Hundred Victories, acclaimed military expert Linda Robinson shows how the special operations forces are — after a decade of intensive combat operations — evolving to become the go-to force for operations worldwide.

    Oct 8, 2013

  • Somali National Army soldiers stand at attention in a training camp

    Commentary

    A Threat to U.S. Interests in East Africa

    The Shabab terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Kenya and its follow-up attacks in the country are a stark reminder that the Somalia-based group poses a threat to the United States and its interests in East Africa, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Oct 2, 2013

  • People walk through the 9-11 Empty Sky memorial across from New York's One World Trade Center at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ

    Blog

    What Has America—and Its Enemies—Learned Since 9/11?

    The attacks on September 11, 2001 provoked America's global campaign against terrorism and jump-started the nation's efforts to improve intelligence, airport security, and emergency preparedness. Meanwhile, al Qaeda, while weakened by the death of its leader in 2011, still generates fear.

    Sep 10, 2013

  • Research Brief

    Using Behavioral Indicators to Detect Potential Violent Acts

    Provides an overview of research on how observable behavioral indicators might be used to detect potential violent attacks, such as by suicide terrorists or those laying improvised explosive devices.

    Aug 23, 2013

  • Afghan al Qaeda members captured in Decemeber 2001

    Commentary

    What Would al Qaeda's PowerPoints Say?

    Over the last 12 years, the campaign against al Qaeda has dominated U.S. policy. From this perspective, al Qaeda has been a beneficiary of the Arab uprisings in general and of recent events in Egypt and Syria in particular. The longer the turmoil continues, the greater al Qaeda's possible gains, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Aug 23, 2013

  • Iraqi Army Commandos hone skills

    Testimony

    Re-Examining the Al Qa'ida Threat to the United States

    The United States needs to adopt an increasingly nuanced — but long-term — approach to countering the al Qa'ida movement, says Seth Jones. U.S. policymakers should view the al Qa'ida threat as a decades-long struggle like the Cold War.

    Jul 29, 2013

  • Brochure

    RAND NSRD Annual Report 2012-2013

    Surveys the work of the RAND National Security Research Division from spring of 2012 through winter of 2013.

    Jun 25, 2013

  • Report

    Using Behavioral Indicators to Help Detect Potential Violent Acts: A Review of the Science Base

    Reviews the scientific literature relating to observable behavioral indicators that might, along with other information, help detect potential violent attacks, such as those by suicide terrorists or the laying of improvised explosive devices.

    Jun 11, 2013

  • U.S. Army soldier pulls security as coalition forces search Ala Say Valley, Afghanistan

    Commentary

    The War on Terror Must End — but Not Yet

    While unending war is clearly bad for a republic and dangerous to U.S. security, the trickier task is defining the conditions that, when met, tell us that the war against al Qaeda is over, writes Paul Miller.

    May 31, 2013

  • Nawaz Sharif billboard on Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Headquarters

    Commentary

    Preventing a Nuclear 'Great Game'

    America's imminent withdrawal from Afghanistan raises the possibility of renewed tension between Pakistan and India. With this month's election of Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan's next prime minister, Islamabad and New Delhi have a fleeting window of opportunity to improve relations.

    May 30, 2013

  • An MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft

    Commentary

    Drones Are Useful, but Not the Solution or the Problem

    The effectiveness of our attacks, particularly by drones, has already decimated the al Qaeda hierarchy, writes Harold Brown. That achievement, together with the negative effect on Muslim publics of drone attacks, suggests that the rate of their usage could be moderated.

    May 16, 2013