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.

  • American and world flags as gears, photo by id-work/iStock

    Report

    Friends, Foes, and Future Directions: U.S. Partnerships in a Turbulent World

    Jan 5, 2016

    How should the United States manage its relationships with partners and adversaries in a world of shrinking defense budgets and reduced political will for international engagement?

  • Peshmerga soldiers provide security during react-to-contact training near Irbil, Iraq, October 2015, photo by Spc. Tristan Bolden/U.S. Army

    Report

    Countering ISIL Requires a Stronger U.S.-Coalition Strategy

    Apr 20, 2016

    While the campaign against ISIL has degraded the group by targeting its leadership and retaking a portion of territory, achieving lasting defeat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria will require increased effort by the U.S. to help train local forces to hold territory. Also, political agreements must be forged to resolve key drivers of conflict among Iraqis and Syrians.

Explore Security Cooperation

  • Dawn breaks behind the Houses of Parliament and the statue of Winston Churchill in Westminster, London, Britain, June 24, 2016

    Commentary

    The Future of Transatlantic Security

    Without the U.K., the E.U.'s military and defense capabilities — including in key areas such as strategic lift, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and special forces — are considerably reduced.

    Jun 28, 2016

  • ISmoke billows from a building after a Taliban attack in Gereshk district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 9, 2016

    Blog

    Strategic Reversal in Afghanistan

    A new contingency plan considers what an unraveling of Afghanistan's political and security situation over the next 18 months would mean — and what can be done to prevent it.

    Jun 24, 2016

  • An Afghan National Army soldier keeps watch at a check post in Logar province, Afghanistan, February 16, 2016

    Commentary

    Afghanistan After Mansour

    The death of Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour is unlikely to transform the conflict in Afghanistan or improve the prospects for a deal between Kabul and the Taliban. In the coming months, the U.S. presence in the country will be as important as ever.

    Jun 17, 2016

  • Report

    Defense Institution Building: An Assessment

    Presents an analysis of defense institution building (DIB), recommends goals and objectives, identifies partner nation and DIB activity selection criteria, develops a strategy for coordinating activities, and recommends accountability procedures.

    Jun 7, 2016

  • Yousef Al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, speaks at RAND's headquarters campus in Santa Monica, California, June 1, 2016

    Blog

    A New Middle East: Rhodes Scholars, Not Radicals

    United Arab Emirates Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba visited RAND to discuss what he sees as the UAE's progress as an emerging power in the Middle East and a reliable ally of the West. Despite threats to the region, the next generation of young people is spreading a culture of optimism, opportunity, and openness.

    Jun 2, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama puts his arm around Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after they laid wreaths in front of a cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, May 27, 2016

    Commentary

    President Obama's Visit to Japan and the Transformation of Japan's Defense Policy

    Washington and Tokyo have moved to actively shape and reinforce the values, norms, institutions, and regional order that have served to enable the Asia-Pacific to emerge as an engine of growth and bastion of freedom and democracy over the past nearly 40 years.

    May 31, 2016

  • Paratroopers parachute into the opening ceremony of Exercise Noble Partner in Vaziani, Georgia, May 10, 2015

    Commentary

    Georgia's Delicate Foreign Policy Dance

    Given the dangerous environment and the small size and relative military weakness of Georgia, it wisely pursues a good neighbor policy in all directions. Still, the country must improve its defense posture and for Georgia, the main security balancer is the United States.

    May 25, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama attends a press conference with Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang at the Presidential Palace Compound in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 23, 2016

    Commentary

    Why Has Obama Lifted the Arms Sales Ban on Vietnam?

    The lifting of the Vietnam arms embargo needs to be understood as part of the long process of normalizing relations with a former U.S. enemy and building toward a more cooperative, economically dynamic, and strategic future-oriented relationship.

    May 25, 2016

  • The Sinjar Resistance Units, an offshoot of a leftist Kurdish organization, and Abdulkhaleq al-Jarba, a Arab tribal militia, have opened up a new front against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, April 30, 2016

    Commentary

    Partitioning Iraq: Make a Detailed Case, or Cease and Desist

    The mostly non-Iraqi voices who want to divide the country into three ethno-sectarian cantonments—Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurd—owe the Iraqi people extensive, detailed clarification. If neither the Iraqi Arab polity nor Iraq's most powerful political factions seek three-way partition, then the case should be closed.

    May 16, 2016

  • Report

    The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DMHA): An Assessment of Roles and Missions

    This report examines the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance's history, activities, and roles to determine how its missions can best be performed to achieve the Department of Defense's objectives in this domain.

    May 16, 2016

  • U.S. and Iraqi officers checking IDs in Baghdad, Iraq, October 2006

    Commentary

    Iraq Reconciliation Requires American Help

    It is time for the United States to step in and take the lead on the crucial process of reconciling the Sunnis with their government in order to bolster the tactical fight against ISIL and to ensure Iraq does not further destabilize.

    May 5, 2016

  • Report

    SMART Security Cooperation Objectives: Improving DoD Planning and Guidance

    Evaluates the U.S. Department of Defense's effectiveness in developing SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and results-oriented, and time-bound) security cooperation objectives that facilitate assessment, monitoring, and evaluation.

    May 5, 2016

  • A team of U.S. Army soldiers from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa lead counter-IED training with the Kenyan Army

    Commentary

    A Competing Risks Approach to Security Sector Assistance for Fragile States

    How should the U.S. balance the risks of cooperating with troubling governments against the risk that ISIS or similar groups could gain strength in these fragile states?

    May 2, 2016

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

    Commentary

    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

  • News Release

    Countering Islamic State Requires a Stronger U.S.-Coalition Strategy

    While the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has degraded the group by targeting its leadership and retaking a portion of territory, achieving lasting defeat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria will be elusive without local forces capable of holding territory.

    Apr 20, 2016

  • Russia's and NATO's Defence Ministers at a NATO-Russia defence ministers council at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, October 23, 2013

    Commentary

    A Risky Move in Brussels

    In the last two years, NATO's relations with Russia have collapsed to their post-Cold War nadir. The decision to convene a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels on April 20 has been met with an unusual amount of controversy and could prove to be a mistake.

    Apr 19, 2016

  • Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (center) poses with chiefs of staff of the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism in Riyadh, March 27, 2016

    Report

    A Saudi-Led Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism Could Benefit U.S. Interests

    A military alliance of Muslim-majority nations to fight terrorism poses no danger to U.S. interests. In fact, the Saudi-led initiative could be helpful in several ways beyond current levels of cooperation.

    Apr 19, 2016

  • The NATO flag flies on a sunny day

    Commentary

    NATO's Southern Exposure: The Real Threats to Europe—and the Alliance

    If NATO fails to define a strategy for its southern challenges (terrorism and the ongoing influx of migrants), it could slip into strategic irrelevance.

    Apr 18, 2016

  • Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee

    Commentary

    Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Is a National Security Threat

    National security and counterterrorism experts agree that rhetoric that paints all Muslims as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers has a high chance of breeding future terrorists. And evidence suggests that such language can hamper U.S. efforts to stop terrorists before they strike and to capture them after attacks.

    Apr 13, 2016