National Security

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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.

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  • News Release

    Domestic Political Discord Now the Greatest Threat to U.S. Global Leadership

    Faced with traditional threats from opponents such as Russia and emerging threats from non-traditional adversaries such as the Islamic State, the United States needs a comprehensive foreign policy strategy that can provide stability and improve policymakers' ability to manage in today's more complex and turbulent times.

    Jan 18, 2017

  • Aerial view of the Earth

    Research Brief

    Exploring America's Role in a Turbulent World

    The post–Cold War era is over. The United States faces new challenges abroad and rising political polarization at home. How should America advance its interests and pursue new opportunities around the world?

    Jan 18, 2017

  • U.S. and Polish soldiers meet after a welcoming ceremony for U.S. troops deployed as part of a NATO buildup in Eastern Europe, Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017

    Report

    How Are European Countries Vulnerable to Russia?

    Russia's aggression against Ukraine has highlighted potential threats to NATO and the EU. But European countries differ in how susceptible they are to possible Russian actions.

    Jan 18, 2017

  • The mascots of the Democratic and Republican parties are seen on a video screen at U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio, March 8, 2016

    Report

    Domestic Political Discord Is Now the Greatest Threat to U.S. Global Leadership

    The United States needs a coherent international strategy for today's turbulent world. But this will be hard to pursue without more domestic political consensus on America's global role.

    Jan 18, 2017

  • A still from footage of Dylann Roof, who was convicted of killing nine people at a historically black church in South Carolina

    Commentary

    The Wrong Terrorism Narrative

    Solving the problem of homegrown terrorism in the U.S. requires understanding the true nature of the complex problem of violent extremism. With such knowledge, authorities and communities will be better able to develop strategies to prevent the next tragic terrorist killing.

    Jan 15, 2017

  • Retired General John Kelly arrives to testify before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, January 10, 2017

    Commentary

    Kelly as DHS Chief Should Focus on Improving Employee Morale

    Building the morale of the Department of Homeland Security workforce should be a priority of the incoming leadership team. Strong communication with career employees, team building, and demonstrating respect for work that has already been done is needed.

    Jan 13, 2017

  • Multimedia

    Trump and Russia: Challenges and Opportunities

    In this Call with the Experts, our panel discusses the risks and opportunities that lie ahead with respect to U.S.-Russian relations.

    Jan 13, 2017

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) talks with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani as they meet during a summit of Caspian Sea regional leaders in the southern city of Astrakhan September 29, 2014

    Commentary

    Iran Is at Putin's Mercy

    Russia and Iran have forged an unprecedented but fragile alliance in the Middle East. But there's no guarantee that Putin won't sell Iran out if he manages to forge better U.S. relations under Trump.

    Jan 12, 2017

  • French soldiers from Operation Barkhane stand outside their armored personnel carrier during a sandstorm in Inat, Mali, May 26, 2016

    Commentary

    Mali's Persistent Jihadist Problem

    The 2013 French intervention in Mali averted an al Qaeda-backed thrust toward the capital of Bamako and reduced the threat from other jihadist groups. To ensure that a new threat does not materialize, France will need staying power and support from its allies.

    Jan 12, 2017

  • Testimony

    Fifteen Years After 9/11: A Preliminary Balance Sheet: Addendum

    Document submitted on January 11, 2017 as an addendum to testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee on September 21, 2016.

    Jan 12, 2017

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives a New Year address in Pyongyang on January 1, 2017

    Commentary

    Trump Should Confront Kim Over ICBM Tests

    Whether successful or not, an ICBM test by North Korea would be very much against U.S. interests and President-elect Trump should act to counter it as early as possible. A turn to the basics of deterrence would be the path most likely to succeed.

    Jan 6, 2017

  • At a public event at the LBJ Presidential Library, the CIA released over 2,500 previously classified President's Daily Briefs from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, September 16, 2015

    Commentary

    Adapting the President's Daily Brief to Trump

    President-elect Trump is receiving President Obama's version of the daily briefing; it has yet to be tailored to his preferences, to which every president is entitled. The intelligence community should seek to adapt the briefing to maximize its interest and relevance to the president-elect.

    Jan 6, 2017

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C), Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L), and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia December 29, 2016

    Commentary

    No Quick Fix with Russia

    A series of small steps is more likely to improve Western and Russian security than an attempt at a total reset. At the same time, sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, and NATO actions to reassure and protect allies, must continue.

    Jan 3, 2017

  • People protest as electors gather to cast their votes amid allegations of Russian hacking to try to influence the U.S. presidential election in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, December 19, 2016

    Commentary

    Were Russian Hacks Really a Threat to American Democracy?

    The Russian attacks should be another wake up call about the relentless probing of America's digital assets by adversaries and the potential consequences of weak cyber defenses. But U.S. democracy appears to have survived safe and sound.

    Dec 30, 2016

  • The Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, and the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, October 10, 2006

    Commentary

    Hidden Dangers of Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

    Moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would antagonize partners in the Islamic world who are key to fighting ISIS and other extremists. And any potential cooperation that might have developed between Israel and Arab states over common concerns about Iran could suffer.

    Dec 28, 2016

  • A sailor opens a network monitoring program during an exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, August 22, 2016

    Commentary

    America's Cyber Security Dilemma — and a Way Out

    The United States should continue to pursue international cooperation in cyberspace, improve its ability to identify and expose the sources of attacks, and improve its oversight of the development and adoption of cyber-related technologies.

    Dec 22, 2016

  • French police secure a street near a travel agency where a gunman took seven people hostage in a robbery, in Paris, France, December 2, 2016

    Commentary

    Crime and Terror in Europe: Where the Nexus Is Alive and Well

    The idea of a crime-terror nexus does appear to be a major threat in Europe, where terrorists and criminals now recruit from the same milieu. Coperation between European law enforcement and intelligence agencies is critical.

    Dec 15, 2016

  • Japan's Self Defence Force holds an opening ceremony of a new military base on the island of Yonaguni in the Okinawa prefecture, March 28, 2016

    Commentary

    The Risks of an Accelerating Rivalry Between China and Japan

    China and Japan have a long history of antagonism but their competition for influence in Asia has recently expanded in the economic, diplomatic, and security domains. The U.S., although a staunch ally of Japan, has served as a mediator. Weakening the U.S. role could aggravate Sino-Japanese tensions to a destabilizing degree.

    Dec 12, 2016

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 1, 2016

    Commentary

    Can Trump Make a Deal with Putin?

    If executed properly, President-elect Trump's diplomacy could help reverse a destabilizing downward spiral in U.S.-Russian relations and create a vision of what normal relations might entail.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • President Barack Obama meets with members of the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House, September 10, 2014

    Commentary

    Presidential Policy Directive 1: Forming the NSC

    If precedent holds, the National Security Council will be defined in the first policy directive that President Trump signs in the early weeks of his administration. Several important questions should be considered.

    Dec 5, 2016