Global Security Environment

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Global security includes military and diplomatic measures that nations and international organizations such as the United Nations and NATO take to ensure mutual safety and security. RAND provides analyses that help policymakers understand political, military, and economic trends around the world; the sources of potential regional conflict; and emerging threats to the global security environment.

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  • 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

  • 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

  • A boy takes pictures at Narita International airport in Narita, Japan, March 25, 2016

    Commentary

    Terrorism Shouldn't Affect Travel Plans

    Evidence suggests that the threat of terrorism need not affect individuals' behavior and travel decisions, not even in the wake of attacks such as those in Brussels and Paris.

    May 21, 2016

  • Globe on a chessboard

    Commentary

    How Can Gaming Help Test Your Theory?

    The act of designing a game will force you to articulate your theory or to be more specific about it. It will also require you to operationalize your variables and theoretical constructs of interest into a specific context, and prompt you to anticipate the ways in which it may play out in that scenario.

    May 18, 2016

  • Dissertation

    Deception in Covert Nuclear Weapons Development: A Framework to Identify, Analyze, and Mitigate Future Long-Term Deception Efforts

    Develops a framework to categorize observable signatures, formulate a judgement on whether long-term deception is taking place, and propose additional areas of collection that may yield evidence of in research and development.

    May 18, 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. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, gives Chinese Gen. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, a tour of his office at the Pentagon, June 11, 2015

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'The Improbable War'

    In The Improbable War: China, the United States, and the Logic of Great Power Conflict, Christopher Coker explores historical analogies and strategic narratives. The intellectual journey is pleasant and engaging but lacks a significant final destination.

    May 11, 2016

  • Iraqi security forces hold an ISIS flag that they pulled down at the University of Anbar, in Anbar province, July 26, 2015

    Commentary

    In the Event of the Islamic State's Untimely Demise...

    If they haven't already, the Islamic State's leaders will soon formulate a contingency strategy, a “Plan B” that the West will then be forced to contend with.

    May 11, 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

  • People react to the death of Osama bin Laden in Times Square in New York City, May 2, 2011

    Commentary

    Five Years After the Death of Osama bin Laden, Is the World Safer?

    What effect did killing bin Laden have on al Qaeda's ability to pursue its jihadist goals? Does high-value targeting contribute to counterterrorist strategy more broadly? Does killing terrorist leaders work?

    May 2, 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

  • U.S. soldiers maneuver using concealment at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, California

    Commentary

    Presence vs. Warfighting: A Looming Dilemma in Defense Planning

    Presence involves global military deployments to counter potential aggressors, reassure allies, underwrite extended deterrence, build partner capacity, and more. It is now as important, in terms of its stabilizing and deterrent effect, as warfighting capabilities. Yet U.S. force posture falls short.

    Apr 26, 2016

  • Afghan security forces keep watch after a suicide car bomb attack on a government security building in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 19, 2016

    Commentary

    The Taliban's Persistent Threat

    The United States and its NATO allies have been scaling back their military commitment in Afghanistan. The Taliban, in response, have been scaling up their operations, inflicting unprecedented heavy casualties on Afghan government forces and gaining increased control over much of the countryside.

    Apr 21, 2016

  • China's President Xi Jinping reviews an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 12, 2016

    Commentary

    Xi's Purge of the Military Prepares the Chinese Army for Confrontation

    Xi Jinping is relying on an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign, echoing Mao Zedong's dictum that “the party commands the gun,” and implementing a sweeping reorganization of the PLA to ensure his personal dominance over the military and to strengthen its ability to deter or win future wars.

    Apr 21, 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

  • Members of the Tunisian parliament wave flags after approving the country's new constitution in Tunis, January 26, 2014

    Commentary

    Tunisia Is an Arab Spring Success Story

    Tunisia has not unraveled into civil war like Syria or Libya. It has not undergone a counter-revolution that returned it to the autocracy of its pre-revolution days, like Egypt has. Tunisia is fragile, but its success is vital to the long-term stability and societal health of the Middle East.

    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