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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

  • A formation of C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft fly in formation as they return from the Samurai Surge training mission near Mount Fuji, Japan, June 5, 2012

    Report

    The Value of Overseas Security Commitments

    U.S. overseas security commitments have positive and significant effects on both U.S. bilateral trade and non-U.S. global bilateral trade. If commitments were reduced, the economic costs from lost trade would be more than triple any associated savings in defense spending.

    Sep 22, 2016

  • Person checking radiation with a geiger counter

    Commentary

    Finding a Nuclear Weapon: Hope Beyond the Screwdriver

    Science and technology is only partly at the point of reliably detecting a nuclear weapon in cities — for some weapons and some adversaries. The solutions for this problem are only partial and are complicated by the nuances of the science.

    Sep 21, 2016

  • A man arrives at the World Trade Center complex on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, September 11, 2016

    Testimony

    Fifteen Years After 9/11: A Preliminary Balance Sheet

    Fifteen years after 9/11, the United States is better organized and equipped to combat terrorism. But the country still faces a multi-tiered threat, and its citizens remain fearful.

    Sep 21, 2016

  • The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower approaches the Friendship Bridge as it transits the Suez Canal, July 8, 2016

    Commentary

    Egypt's Suez Canal: An Attenuated Lifeline

    The U.S. Navy has enjoyed the luxury of being able to transit the Suez Canal without hindrance for decades. However, the risk of losing access — perhaps quickly and unexpectedly — should inform Navy strategic and operational planning.

    Sep 14, 2016

  • Bullets and firearm on a retail store counter

    Commentary

    Tracing Firearms and Ammunition

    The marking of firearms and ammunition supports effective tracing by enabling identification and efficient record keeping. But currently there are no mandatory, globally accepted standards that regulate firearms marking.

    Sep 9, 2016

  • Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara visits Fort Bragg, North Carolina in October 1961

    Commentary

    In Defense of Defense Analysis

    Rather than characterize Robert McNamara's legacy as one of inefficiency, his economic, quantitative analysis of military problems should be portrayed as an innovative, if flawed, first adoption of more sophisticated methods for defense analysis.

    Sep 2, 2016

  • Report

    U.S.–Japan Alliance Conference: Strengthening Strategic Cooperation

    To better understand the deepening cooperation between the United States and Japan and future prospects for their partnership, RAND commissioned papers by leading experts and hosted a two-day conference in Santa Monica, California, in March 2016.

    Sep 2, 2016

  • French President Francois Hollande and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian review troops at the fort of Vincennes, France, July 25, 2016

    Commentary

    Emergencies: France, Mali, and Turkey Are Playing with Fire

    The leaders of France, Mali, and Turkey have declared formal states of emergency. France's Hollande and Mali's Keïta, while responding to real threats, are risking democracy. Erdogan appears to be targeting democracy and using Turkey's recent failed coup as a pretext.

    Aug 15, 2016

  • The U.S. and Japanese flags blend together

    Commentary

    Don't Weaken the U.S.-Japan Alliance, Strengthen It

    As long as the United States and Japan stick together, they should have the strength to deter or, if necessary, defeat the threats they face. But if Washington abandons its alliance commitments, the risk of war will rise and America will be less safe.

    Aug 14, 2016

  • Journal Article

    China's Search for a "Strategic Air Force"

    China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has undergone a transformation over the past two decades. As it continues to modernize, it is focused on becoming a strategic air force.

    Aug 11, 2016

  • U.S. Marines with their Georgian counterparts preparing for NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, March 24, 2015

    Commentary

    How Defense Choices Affect Military Readiness

    Because the United States cannot afford to prioritize and defend against every possible threat or contingency, it must accept risk with each decision it makes. And the more adaptive the adversary, the more likely it will confound readiness investments made previously to confront it.

    Aug 10, 2016

  • Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, in Beijing, China, April 30, 2016

    Commentary

    Do Economic Ties Limit the Prospect of Conflict?

    China has grown stronger economically and militarily over the past 35 years and has become more assertive. Its trade and investment links with Japan are substantial but they have been declining, and are less of a constraint on conflict than before.

    Aug 9, 2016

  • The Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond alongside the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower conducting maritime security operations and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom, November 4, 2012

    Commentary

    Sustaining Britain's Role in NATO After Brexit

    In this period of geostrategic uncertainty about the future of the UK during its divorce from the EU, the U.S. should provide robust diplomatic and political support to ensure that Britain remains a major military power within the Atlantic Alliance.

    Aug 4, 2016

  • A diplomatic delegation waits for China's President Xi Jinping to arrive at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, March 30, 2016, to attend the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington

    Q&A

    Q&A: An Unthinkable War Between the U.S. and China

    David Gompert, lead author of a RAND report that explores an unthinkable U.S.-China war answers questions about what the study does — and does not — say about the potential for such a war and its possible outcome.

    Aug 4, 2016

  • A People's Liberation Army Air Force's long-range strategic bomber H-6K

    Commentary

    China Signals Resolve with Bomber Flights Over the South China Sea

    Since the PCA tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines' case on July 12, invalidating many of China's claims in the South China Sea, Beijing has sought to demonstrate its military strength in the region. The PLAAF's H-6K has played a key role.

    Aug 2, 2016

  • Massive unclassified paper shred and uniform drop-off bins help prevent OPSEC violations

    Commentary

    Keeping Up with the Policymakers: The Unclassified Tearline

    Unclassified tearlines could convey the bottom line and potential implications of a classified story in unclassified terms, while obscuring sensitive sources and methods. There are good reasons to build them into the business process and culture of intelligence agencies.

    Jul 28, 2016

  • Partner nations parading their colors at the opening ceremony of Combined Endeavor 2014 in Grafenwohr, Germany

    Commentary

    NATO Decides to 'Troop the Colours' As Symbol of Deterrence in the Baltics

    At its Warsaw summit in July, NATO agreed to establish a permanent rotating presence of its troops in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The decision may be interpreted as NATO's commitment to take its Baltic members' concerns seriously.

    Jul 28, 2016

  • News Release

    Exploring the Course and Consequences of a Sino-U.S. War

    Premeditated war between the United States and China is very unlikely, but the danger that a mishandled crisis could trigger hostilities cannot be ignored. A new analysis illuminates various paths a war could take and their possible effects.

    Jul 28, 2016

  • News Release

    Cooperation Among the Arab Gulf States Is Key to U.S. Interests and Regional Stability, Despite Friction

    The increased influence of Arab Gulf states in regional affairs such as the fighting in Syria and the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen has raised the stakes for relations between the six nations and poses significant consequences for stability.

    Jul 28, 2016

  • U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice listens as Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi speaks during a meeting in Beijing, China, July 25, 2016

    Report

    Exploring the Course and Consequences of a Sino-U.S. War

    Premeditated war between the United States and China is very unlikely. But the danger that a mishandled crisis could trigger hostilities cannot be ignored. A new analysis illuminates various paths a war could take and their possible effects.

    Jul 28, 2016