Defense Cooperation

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The NATO alliance served its participants well in countering the strategic threat once posed by the Soviet Union, but the rise of other regional powers and coalitions since end of the Cold War has prompted a reevaluation of existing alliances. RAND research has provided policymakers with essential information on how best to forge new defense cooperation agreements and strengthen old alliances to counter emerging security threats.

  • Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) allied with Iraqi forces against the Islamic State, preparing to attack Tikrit March 26, 2015, photo by Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

    Report

    Could U.S.-Iran Cooperation Help Combat ISIL?

    Jun 1, 2015

    Limited tactical cooperation between the United States and Iran may be possible in weakening Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant even if the two nations don't share long-term interests. U.S. and Iranian military forces are fighting the same enemy in Iraq and U.S. air power seems to complement Iran's on-the-ground presence.

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    Report

    Building Special Operations Partnerships

    Jul 31, 2015

    Building the capacity of Afghan special operations forces (SOF) is a key goal of the U.S. and its coalition partners. An analysis of partnering practices from case studies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Colombia helps identify best practices to benefit the development of Afghan SOF, as well as partnerships beyond Afghanistan.

Explore Security Cooperation

  • Afghan National Army soldiers, advised and assisted by NATO Train, Advise, Assist Command, conduct a fire support mission in Zabul province, Afghanistan

    Commentary

    In Afghanistan, the Glass Is Still Better Seen as Half Full: A Response to Gary Owen

    While things are certainly not “great” in Afghanistan, there are more reasons for hope than many had expected to see by this point in the transition from a large U.S. presence to a greatly reduced one.

    Aug 24, 2015

  • Afghan officials in Pakistan August 13, 2015 discussing reviving suspended peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, days after Taliban attacks killed dozens of people in Kabul

    Commentary

    Afghanistan, Choose Your Enemies Wisely

    The Taliban's new leadership may be the last decent opportunity for a political solution to the conflict. Without one, the Islamic State could make Afghanistan the next Iraq or Syria.

    Aug 24, 2015

  • U.S. and Spanish Marines signal acknowledgement

    Report

    A Building Partner Capacity Assessment Framework: Tracking Inputs, Outputs, Outcomes, Disrupters, and Workarounds

    This report presents a framework intended to help with planning for building partner capacity events, monitoring progress while the effort is in progress, and assessing results.

    Aug 21, 2015

  • Nepalese soldiers unload aid and relief supplies from a UH-1Y Venom in the Kavrepalanchowk District, May 11, 2015

    Report

    What Works Best When Building Partner Capacity in Challenging Contexts

    When forced to build partner capacity in challenging contexts, what can the United States do to maximize the prospects for success?

    Aug 21, 2015

  • Tunisian soldiers and police patrol near Algeria's border in Kasserine, Tunisia July 4, 2015 after an Islamist militant attack on a beach hotel that killed 38 foreigners

    Commentary

    Algeria: The Bastion of North Africa

    Algeria could be a key regional partner for the United States and France in security and counterterrorism efforts against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. It has a clear interest in quelling the threat posed by regional jihadists and it has local knowledge that could be helpful to U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

    Aug 11, 2015

  • U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice visits Camp Commando near Kabul, Afghanistan to discuss the state of Afghan Special Forces with mentors to the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command on Nov. 24, 2013

    Report

    Best Practices for Special Operations Advisory Groups

    Special Operations Advisory Groups are tasked with the responsibility of advising commanders and staff of the Afghan Special Security Forces. In-depth interviews with these personnel address rapport building, pre-deployment training, and continuity of operations.

    Aug 10, 2015

  • Afghan Road Maintenance Team members learn proper weapon firing positions during a combat skills class taught by International Security Assistance Force Special Operations Forces at Forward Operating Base Kutschbach, Afghanistan, Nov. 20, 2010

    Report

    Building Special Operations Partnerships

    Building the capacity of Afghan special operations forces (SOF) is a key goal of the U.S. and its coalition partners. An analysis of partnering practices from case studies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Colombia helps identify best practices to benefit the development of Afghan SOF, as well as partnerships beyond Afghanistan.

    Jul 31, 2015

  • A checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on March 10, 2012

    Commentary

    Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    If neither victory nor a political settlement are likely in the short term, and if complete withdrawal is unpalatable, then the United States must ensure that its support of Afghanistan remains politically sustainable.

    Jul 6, 2015

  • Sunni tribal fighters stand guard near a school used as a shelter for displaced people in the city of Ramadi, April 11, 2015

    Commentary

    The Enemy You Know and the Ally You Don't

    Arming Iraq's Sunni militias to fight the Islamic State may seem like a quick fix, but newly declassified documents suggest it might only add fuel to the fire.

    Jun 23, 2015

  • A Tunisian holds up a flag during celebrations marking the fourth anniversary of Tunisia's revolution, Tunis, January 14, 2015

    Commentary

    Tunisia in the Crosshairs

    The open-ended nature of the Islamic State group's threat against Tunisair suggests that it intends to target Tunisia for the long haul. The United States should counter the threats with steadfast and sustained cooperation and assistance.

    Jun 22, 2015

  • Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani talks with Royal Saudi Land Forces Commander Lieutenant General Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud at a joint military exercise in Mangla, Pakistan, October 6, 2011

    Commentary

    What Pakistan and Saudi Arabia Want from Each Other

    Whatever overlapping interests they may have in dangerous groups like Lashkar-e Taiba, the Saudis and Pakistanis have much bigger reasons for seeking each other's friendship. These reasons may be largely transactional, but the transaction has been a mutually beneficial one for nearly 40 years.

    Jun 17, 2015

  • Smoke rises after what activists said were clashes with Islamic State fighters in Soran Azaz, Aleppo countryside June 1, 2015

    Commentary

    Islamic State's Global Expansion

    The radical Islamist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is now expanding in roughly a dozen countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia by exploiting local grievances, doling out money, and leveraging its battlefield successes.

    Jun 4, 2015

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    Multimedia

    RAND Experts Discuss Iran’s Role in Iraq: Room for Cooperation

    Alireza Nader, senior international policy analyst with the RAND Corporation, discusses his study, “Iran's Role in Iraq: Room for Cooperation?” with Khorshied Samad, RAND senior media relations officer and Lisa Sodders, RAND media relations officer.

    Jun 2, 2015

  • Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) allied with Iraqi forces against the Islamic State, preparing to attack Tikrit March 26, 2015

    Report

    Could U.S.-Iran Cooperation Help Combat ISIL?

    Limited tactical cooperation between the United States and Iran may be possible in weakening Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant even if the two nations don't share long-term interests. U.S. and Iranian military forces are fighting the same enemy in Iraq and U.S. air power seems to complement Iran's on-the-ground presence.

    Jun 1, 2015

  • U.S. Army soldiers provide security while coalition soldiers examine the inside of an Afghan army ammunition bunker

    Report

    Army Global Basing Posture: An Analytic Framework for Maximizing Responsiveness and Effectiveness

    This report develops a methodology and a framework for global Army positioning and uses that framework to assess U.S. Army forward stationing from a perspective of maximum responsiveness and effectiveness and identifies potential improvements.

    Jun 1, 2015

  • Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron with newly elected Conservative Party MPs in London, May 11, 2015

    Commentary

    A Conservative Ambition for the Defence of the United Kingdom

    Prime Minister David Cameron and his new Cabinet are spending their first days in office articulating a policy and legislative agenda, to be delivered in the form of the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on 27 May. National strategy and defence are certain to feature on that agenda.

    May 14, 2015

  • An air strike hits a military site controlled by the Houthi group in Yemen's capital Sanaa May 12, 2015

    Commentary

    Yemen: Victim of the Saudi-Iranian Rivalry

    Instability in Yemen does not benefit Iran, Saudi Arabia, or the United States. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is a major threat to all three countries. And neither side in the Yemeni conflict has the capability to impose central authority in Yemen by itself.

    May 12, 2015

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcome Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe for a State Dinner in their honor at the White House in Washington

    Commentary

    Shinzo Abe Visit Caps New Dawn in U.S.-Japan Relations

    A shift toward “collective self-defense” will allow Japan to take joint military action with its allies even when it is not directly attacked and thereby participate in security measures beyond its borders. Prime Minister Abe's trip to Washington this week is intended to cement Japan's deepening bilateral security alliance with the U.S.

    Apr 30, 2015

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live broadcast nationwide call-in in Moscow April 16, 2015; he said Russian military forces were not in Ukraine, denying allegations that Moscow is providing troops and support for pro-Russian rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine

    Commentary

    Ukraine Crisis Is a Geopolitical Game Changer

    Russia's aggression abroad and repression at home have altered the basic assumptions of earlier Western policy. By misjudging the tolerance for aggression in Europe, Moscow is bringing on the encirclement it fears. The West is now better prepared to deal with any further aggression and more confident that Ukraine's future will be as part of an enlarged Europe.

    Apr 17, 2015

  • Congolese M23 rebels patrol near Rushuru, in DRC August 2013 as a deadline set by UN peacekeepers for rebels to lay down their weapons passes

    Report

    Addressing Risks in Security Sector Assistance to Africa

    Often those countries most in need of security sector assistance are least able to make good use of it. How can the United States better anticipate and mitigate the risks of assistance to Africa's fragile states?

    Apr 15, 2015