Threat Assessment

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Researchers collaborate across disciplines at RAND to evaluate terrorist, military, nuclear, cyber, and other threats to U.S. national security — identifying emerging threats, scrutinizing known risks, and evaluating potential strategic and tactical responses. Recent studies have included examinations of al Qaeda, the Afghan insurgency, and Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

  • Members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution about the ongoing crisis in Iraq at UN headquarters in New York, photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    Commentary

    Foreign Fighters Are a Global Threat

    Aug 25, 2014

    The threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters cannot be resolved by the United States, or any ally, working alone. It calls for broad international cooperation on law enforcement, intelligence sharing and other areas for many years to come. The road ahead will be hard, but it's best to begin now with action by the UN Security Council.

Explore Threat Assessment

  • An airline passenger stands in a full-body scanner at a TSA checkpoint at LAX in February 2014 after U.S. authorities issued a warning to airlines to watch out for militants who may have hidden bombs in their shoes

    Commentary

    What Research Says About Profiling

    When police take action on the basis of race, creed, or ethnicity it is corrosive, unfair, ineffective, and can stoke the flames of police-community tension. But as we have found from a variety of assessments, law enforcement is best served when it bases its activities on risk—not on personal characteristics.

    Dec 18, 2014

  • A hostage runs toward a police officer outside Lindt cafe, where other hostages are being held, in Martin Place, Sydney, December 15, 2014

    Blog

    Could the Sydney Café Siege Happen Elsewhere?

    As the world mourns those lost in the Sydney café siege, investigations have begun examining the efficacy of Australia's anti-terrorism measures and details about the background and motives of the gunman. At the same time, terrorism experts are reflecting on where else such an attack could emerge.

    Dec 17, 2014

  • Militant Islamist fighters parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province

    Commentary

    When Jihadis Come Marching Home

    The existing pool of determined jihadists in America is very small and lacks training and experience, which fighting in Syria and Iraq would provide. Returning jihadi veterans would be more formidable adversaries. Still, the threat appears manageable using current U.S. laws and existing resources.

    Nov 19, 2014

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye at a joint news conference in Seoul, April 2014

    Commentary

    N.K. WMDs Carry Catastrophic Potential

    The failure of the United States and South Korea to prevent North Korea from gaining significant quantities of weapons of mass destruction saddles those governments with serious military responsibilities, should North Korea go to war or should its government collapse.

    Nov 19, 2014

  • A masked man speaking in what is believed to be a North American accent in a video that Islamic State militants released in September

    Report

    When Jihadis Come Marching Home

    Although the numbers of Westerners slipping off to join the jihadist fronts in Syria and Iraq are murky, U.S. counterterrorism officials believe that those fighters pose a clear and present danger to American security.

    Nov 18, 2014

  • A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes against ISIL targets Sept. 23, 2014

    Commentary

    War with ISIS: What Does Victory Look Like?

    We should start the campaign with an achievable definition of victory and a reasonable expectation about what that will take. We want to degrade ISIS so its ability to attack us and our interests is minimized, and to aid allies like Iraqis and Middle Eastern governments who are willing to commit even limited forces.

    Sep 25, 2014

  • News Release

    Pentagon Should Elevate the Importance of Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction in Operational Planning

    Although the United States military has determined countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to be a strategic priority, policymakers have invested too little in the forces and capabilities needed to eliminate vulnerable arsenals.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • A worker engages in decontamination procedures

    Research Brief

    Closing the Strategy-Policy Gap in Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction

    Two presidents have declared counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) a top national priority, but it has not been budgeted or resourced as such. This brief summarizes ground force capacities and capabilities needed to eliminate WMD.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • The Flying Dragons flew in support of a joint air assault in which Soldiers conducted a search for illegal weapons on various compounds throughout Nawa Valley, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, May 25, 2014

    Report

    Pentagon Should Elevate the Importance of Eliminating WMDs in Operational Planning

    Joint force commanders should carefully consider requirements for eliminating weapons of mass destruction in their contingency and operational planning. And DoD policy decisions involving Army force structure should consider the conventional ground force requirements of such operations.

    Sep 24, 2014

  • Kurdish Peshmerga forces guard their position near Tal Afar, west of Mosul against Islamic State militants

    Blog

    RAND Experts Discuss U.S. Strategy on ISIS

    President Obama outlined a strategy last week to deal with the threat posed by the terrorist group known as ISIS. RAND experts discuss the speech and the follow-up efforts so far.

    Sep 15, 2014

  • A view from the deck of the Chinese PLA Naval ship Haikou; for the first time, China participates in RIMPAC, the world's largest biennial naval exercise between the U.S. and Pacific Rim nations

    Blog

    A U.S. Strategy for Dealing with China

    Developing a next generation strategy for dealing with China will require the United States to sculpt a balanced and flexible approach that protects U.S. interest in East Asia while at the same time fosters cooperation with China on issues of common concern.

    Sep 3, 2014

  • News Release

    Key U.S. Military, Diplomatic Strategies Are Necessary to Balance China's Growing Regional Strength

    Developing a strategy for the United States to address China's growing military strength should not sacrifice future cooperation between the two nations.

    Sep 2, 2014

  • Research Brief

    Developing a U.S. Strategy for Dealing with China — Now and into the Future

    U.S. military strategy in Asia should include a framework that allows the United States and China to pursue common and individual goals, deters China's use of force to intimidate its neighbors, and postures U.S. forces to support partner militaries.

    Sep 2, 2014

  • Service members from participating nations salute during the opening ceremony of Khaan Quest 2014, a multinational exercise designed to promote regional peace and security. It is co-sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and hosted annually by Mongolian Armed Forces.

    Report

    Key U.S. Military, Diplomatic Strategies Are Necessary to Balance China's Growing Regional Strength

    Developing a strategy for the United States to address China's growing military strength should not sacrifice future cooperation between the two nations. A U.S. policy could recognize China's expanding importance in the world and its legitimate interests, while also keeping U.S. commitments to allies and partners in the region.

    Sep 2, 2014

  • Andrew Parasiliti

    Blog

    Andrew Parasiliti Named Director of Center for Global Risk and Security at RAND

    Andrew Parasiliti, former editor in chief of Al-Monitor.com, has been named director of the Center for Global Risk and Security. Previously, he served as executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies-US and Corresponding Director, IISS-Middle East.

    Aug 18, 2014

  • Airline passengers wait in line before passing through a TSA checkpoint at LAX

    Commentary

    TSA's Cellphone Rule Part of Deadly Race

    While placing explosives inside a cellphone is plausible, it is almost impossible to do so with iPhones without rendering them non-functional, which is why the TSA is now checking cell phones are actually working.

    Jul 29, 2014

  • A U.S. Department of Homeland Security employee works in front of a U.S. threat level map and monitoring display

    Commentary

    Streamlining Congressional Oversight of DHS

    At a time when terrorist threats abound both at home and abroad, the DHS and Congress should be working as one to bolster America's defenses. To do this Congress should simplify the way it oversees homeland security.

    Jul 29, 2014

  • Soldiers entering building

    Testimony

    Jihadist Sanctuaries in Syria and Iraq

    The large number of Western violent extremists in sanctuaries like Syria and Iraq requires the adoption of policies and practices in the U.S. homeland and overseas to ensure that these extremists are detected if they return to the West and, more broadly, to reduce the flow of foreign fighters from the West.

    Jul 24, 2014

  • Journal Article

    Tailored Deterrence: Strategic Context to Guide Joint Force 2020

    To prioritize limited resources in accordance with actual defense policies and threats, DOD should develop tailored approaches to deter specific threats to U.S. national security interests.

    Jul 1, 2014