Richard C. Baffa

Photo of Richard Baffa
Senior International/Defense Researcher
Washington Office


B.A. in political science, Villanova University; M.P.P., Johns Hopkins University; M.S. in national security strategy, National War College; Fellowship, Cambridge University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

More Experts


Richard Baffa is a senior international/defense policy researcher at the RAND Corporation focusing on national security, intelligence, military issues as well as the Middle East and Russia/Eurasia. He came to RAND from the Defense Intelligence Agency where he served in a number of senior analytic and management positions. His most recent position was as the chief analyst at the Army’s National Ground Intelligence Center.

Previously, he served as the senior analyst at the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and as DIA’s senior Iran expert. He also served as the senior intelligence officer for DIA’s Middle East/North Africa Office and director of the Iraq Office. Following seven years active duty as a Naval Intelligence officer, Baffa joined the Navy Reserves and retired at the rank of captain in December 2009 with more than 26 years of service.

Baffa holds a B.A. in political science from Villanova University and an M.P.P. in international public policy from the Johns Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College where he received an M.S. in national security strategy. In May 2015, he completed a seven-month fellowship at Cambridge University where he authored two papers examining developments in Iran during the World War I time frame. Baffa was selected as a Defense Intelligence senior level executive in 2008 and received the Presidential Award for his service at EUCOM in 2015.

Honors & Awards

  • Presidential Award, DoD/Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Distinguished Graduate, National War College


  • Israeli armored vehicles take part in a drill in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, August 7, 2018 August 7, 2018

    The Growing Risk of a New Middle East War

    Escalating clashes between Israeli and Iranian forces in Syria have demonstrably increased the risk of a new, large-scale regional conflict that would likely involve the U.S. military. Tehran's continued provocations and violations of Israel's stated red lines are fueling escalation with the potential to rapidly spin out of control.

    Aug 21, 2018 United Press International

  • Iranian flag

    Regime Appears Fragile as Iranians Turn Much of Their Ire Inward

    Economic hardship is fueling unrest in Iran. New sanctions stemming from the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal may exacerbate already difficult conditions. Now might be the time to exert maximum pressure on the regime in an effort to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table.

    May 21, 2018 The Hill

  • Iran flag and ICBM

    Iran: The Nuclear Agreement Will Survive, at Least for Now

    A U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal does not necessarily mean the deal will collapse. But a broader collapse of the agreement along with the imposition of harsh sanctions in the coming months could sharply escalate tensions with Iran.

    Apr 4, 2018 The Hill

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, February 11, 2018

    Israel Prepares to Take on Iran and Hezbollah in Syria

    Clashes between Israeli, Iranian, and Syrian forces have injected new volatility into the Middle East. This increases the likelihood of miscalculation and escalatory military action across the region.

    Feb 19, 2018 Newsweek

  • An Iranian scratched flag with a grunge texture

    Unrest in Iran: An Opportunity for Democratic Change

    As the unrest that began in Iran on Dec. 28 begins to wane following a crackdown, it is difficult to assess what may come next. But this is not the first time Iranians have come out on the streets to protest and challenge authoritarian rule, nor will it be the last; the Iranian people have a long history of seeking a democratic political order.

    Jan 14, 2018 U.S. News & World Report