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RAND conducts a broad array of national security research for the U.S. Department of Defense and allied ministries of defense. RAND's four U.S. federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) explore topics from acquisition and technology to personnel and readiness.

  • People watch a huge screen showing the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by KCNA, July 5, 2017, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Surgical Strike Against North Korea? Not a Viable Option

    Jul 14, 2017

    North Korea's July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit American soil has renewed talk of military intervention. But an effective limited military strike with minimal collateral damage and no escalation simply won't work.

  • The USS Lassen arrives at a South Korean naval port in Donghae as sailors wave South Korean and U.S. flags, March 9, 2013, photo by Republic of Korea Navy via Reuters

    Essay

    Are America's Overseas Security Commitments Worth It?

    Jul 7, 2017

    A growing debate has called into question U.S. international security commitments and whether their economic value outweighs their costs. Research suggests that the magnitude of the benefits could be substantial.

Explore National Security

  • 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

  • Lithuanian Land Forces fire a smoke screen from an M113A1 Armored Personnel Carrier during a joint exercise with their American partners in Rukla, Lithuania, May 22, 2015

    Commentary

    In Defense of a Wargame: Bolstering Deterrence on NATO's Eastern Flank

    A series of wargames examined the potential results of a Russian invasion of the Baltic states. While such an invasion appears unlikely, its consequences would be so dangerous that not taking steps to deter it more robustly would be imprudent.

    Jun 14, 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

  • Brazilian Army soldiers take part in a simulation of decontamination of multiple victims during a training against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, March 11, 2016

    Commentary

    ISIS and Dirty Bombs

    There has been growing concern that terrorists might use radiological sources to create a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD). Calculations have shown that an attack would be unlikely to produce radioactive contamination sufficient to kill or even injure anyone, but there would be psychological and economic effects.

    Jun 3, 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

  • Danish police search an apartment block in Ishoej, Denmark, for people suspected of having been recruited by the Islamic State, April 7, 2016

    Commentary

    Striking Back at the Islamic State's Foreign Fighter Pipeline

    Islamic State training camps are the breeding grounds of tomorrow's Brussels or Paris attacks, and their consistent penchant for training foreigners suggests that military and security officials need to get serious about how to deal with returnees from Iraq and Syria.

    May 31, 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

  • 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

  • A police line separates people attending the Freedom of Speech Rally Round II from counter demonstrators outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix, Arizona, May 29, 2015

    Commentary

    Anti-Muslim Demonstrations Don't Make Us Safer

    Anti-Muslim demonstrations complicate efforts to combat terrorism. They also exaggerate the threat, perpetuate overblown fears, and punish innocents who may be on America's side.

    May 12, 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

  • Icebreaker Yamal during removal of manned drifting station North Pole-36, August 2009

    Commentary

    Friends If We Must: Russia and China in the Arctic

    Russia's rebalancing toward China is particularly important in the Arctic, a region in which Russia has great ambitions, but also struggles with major vulnerabilities. Russia needs China as an investor, as a technological partner, and as a key consumer of energy to support its flagging, energy-dependent economy.

    May 6, 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

  • Report

    The Crisis Within: America's Military and the Struggle Between the Overseas and Guardian Paradigms

    The nation's understanding of both the common defense and organized violence has changed dramatically since 2001. This report is an attempt to start a conversation about how to better understand America's 21st-century military.

    Apr 27, 2016