Bruce W. Bennett

bruce bennett, b0435
Senior International/Defense Researcher
Santa Monica Office

Education

Ph.D. in policy analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School; B.S. in economics, California Institute of Technology

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 media@rand.org.

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Overview

Bruce W. Bennett is a senior international/defense researcher at the RAND Corporation who works primarily on research topics such as strategy, force planning, and counterproliferation within the RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center and the RAND Arroyo Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program.

Bennett's work applies war gaming, risk management, deterrence-based strategy, competitive strategies, and military simulation and analysis. He specializes in “asymmetric threats” such as weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and how to counter those threats with new strategies, operational concepts, and technologies. He is an expert in Northeast Asian military issues, having visited the region more than 100 times and written much about Korean security issues. He has also done work on the Persian/Arab Gulf region.

His Northeast Asian research has addressed issues such as future ROK military force requirements, the Korean military balance, counters to North Korean chemical and biological weapon threats in Korea and Japan, dealing with a North Korean collapse, potential Chinese intervention in Korean contingencies, changes in the Northeast Asia security environment, and deterrence of nuclear threats (including strengthening the U.S. nuclear umbrella). He has worked with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, U.S. Forces Korea and Japan, the U.S. Pacific Command and Central Command, the ROK and Japanese militaries, and the ROK National Assembly.

Bennett received his B.S. in economics from the California Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

Recent Projects

  • Deterrence of North Korean provocations and its nuclear threat
  • Preparing for the possibility of a North Korean collapse
  • Chemical, biological, and nuclear weapon threats against Korea, Japan, and the Persian Gulf
  • U.S. strategy and capabilities needed to defend against and eliminate WMD
  • Third party intervention in North Korea

Selected Publications

Bruce W. Bennett, Preparing for the Possibility of a North Korean Collapse, RAND (RR-331), 2013

Bruce W. Bennett, "Deterring North Korea from Using WMD in Future Conflicts and Crises," Strategic Studies Quarterly, 6(4):119-151, 2012

Bruce W. Bennett and Jennifer Lind, "The Collapse of North Korea: Military Missions and Requirements," International Security, 36(2):84-119, 2011

Bruce W. Bennett, Uncertainties in the North Korean Nuclear Threat, RAND Corporation (DB-589-NDU), 2010

Bruce W. Bennett, "North Korea's WMD Capability and the Regional Military Balance: A US Perspective," Korean Journal of Security Affairs, 2009

Bruce W. Bennett, A Brief Analysis of the Republic of Korea's Defense Reform Plan, RAND Corporation (OP-165-OSD), 2006

Bruce W. Bennett, "Military Implications of North Korea's Nuclear Weapons," KNDU Review, Korea National Defense University, 2005

Bruce W. Bennett, "Responding to Asymmetric Threats," in Stuart E. Johnson et al., New Challenges New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking, RAND Corporation (MR-1576-RC), 2003

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: AFP; Asia News Weekly; Asian Wall Street Journal; Associated Press; BBC; CBS radio; CCTV; CNBC; CNN; Fox News; Huffington Post; JBC Radio; KNX News Radio; Korea and the World podcast, Seoul National University; Korean news media (Korean Herald, Korea Times, Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo, Yonhap News Agency, Donga Ilbo, Kookmin Ilbo, Korea Daily, Arirang News); Korean television networks (KBS, SBS, MBC); KTLA-TV; KTTV News; military.com; NPR; PBS; Radio Free Asia; Voice of America; other foreign media (e.g., RBC Daily in Russia, NTV News, Tokyo Business Today in Japan)

Commentary: Chicago Tribune; Global Asia; International Herald Tribune; The Korea Herald; Korea Times; Los Angeles Times; Newsweek; Orange County Register; San Diego Union-Tribune; United Press International; U.S. News & World Report; Wall Street Journal; Washington Times; World Policy Blog

Commentary

  • Soldiers hike up Pinnacle 4, a mountain near Camp Humphreys, for a history lesson on the Korean War and team building for U.S.-ROK forces, June 2017

    Lowdown on Pyeongtaek Garrison

    Camp Humphreys will become the major U.S. base in Korea. In terms of North Korean threats, the camp is roughly 100 kilometers from the Demilitarized Zone. Some North Korean ballistic missiles could cause damage at Camp Humphreys if it's targeted.

    Aug 8, 2017 The Korea Times

  • A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptor is launched during Flight Test THAAD in Kodiak, Alaska, July 11, 2017

    Why THAAD Is Needed in Korea

    As the threat from North Korea has been developing over the last 30 years, the U.S. has responsibly deployed missile defenses in Korea to protect its forces and South Koreans. Today, North Korea's medium- and intermediate-range missiles require a defense able to handle higher missile re-entry speeds like the THAAD system.

    Aug 7, 2017 The Korea Times

  • 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.

    A Surgical Strike Against North Korea? Not a Viable Option

    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.

    Jul 14, 2017 Fox News Channel

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the test of a new-type anti-aircraft guided weapon system organized by the Academy of National Defence Science, May 2017

    Is Moon Ready to Reunite Korea? Is Kim Jong Un?

    President Moon Jae-in is focused on South Korean domestic issues and internal unification. But he needs to prepare for unification with North Korea. He will face challenges whether unification is brought on by peaceful coexistence or as the result of sudden change.

    Jun 2, 2017 Newsweek

  • U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bilateral meeting with China's President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 7, 2017

    Five Dead-Ends — and One Risky Opportunity — When Trump and Xi Talk North Korea

    Among President Trump's options, proposing a deal that gives the North Korean elite an alternative to its murderous and unstable leader could be the safest and most realistic way to sheath North Korean nuclear weapons and safeguard the American people.

    Apr 10, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA

    Murder, Missiles, and Messages from North Korea

    Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile on February 12 — one day before Kim Jong Nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was murdered in Malaysia — and four more on March 6. What would lead North Korea to carry out these provocations?

    Mar 24, 2017 RealClearWorld

  • North Korean ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol speaks during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 20, 2017

    Death by Nerve Gas: Two Arrests, Many Questions in Attack in Malaysia

    Details about the murder of Kim Jong Un's half-brother are still being uncovered. If a firm connection to North Korea can be made, others in the region should react strongly. Otherwise, Kim may conclude that further provocations are worth it.

    Mar 7, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

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

    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 USA Today

  • U.S. Amb. Samantha Power, South Korean Amb. Hahn Choong-hee, and Japanese Amb. Koro Bessho after the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the latest missile launches by North Korea, New York, September 6, 2016

    On Northeast Asia

    China has been a major proponent of regional security for Northeast Asia but appears disinterested in Republic of Korea (ROK) security against North Korean missile and nuclear weapon threats.

    Sep 23, 2016 The Korea Times

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un waves during a parade at Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang, July 27, 2013

    What to Look for in North Korea's Fifth Nuclear Test

    North Korea's fifth and biggest nuclear test could have implications for U.S. policy toward the North, China's role in the region, and the stability of the Kim regime.

    Sep 9, 2016 BBC

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over a rally and parade in Pyongyang's main ceremonial square, North Korea, May 10, 2016

    Behind North Korea's Bid for a 'Peace Treaty'

    By insisting on a peace treaty with America, North Korea is probably seeking war. Its leaders likely hope a treaty would lead to a withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea, setting the stage for an invasion by the North.

    May 18, 2016 The National Interest

  • Two THAAD interceptors and a Standard-Missile 3 Block IA missile being launched at a test site

    THAAD's Effect on South Korea's Neighbors

    It is hard to determine how China or Russia will respond to THAAD deployment in South Korea. THAAD deployment could change the dynamic and terms of the debate, leading to greater Chinese pressure on North Korea to curb its nuclear and missile threats.

    Apr 5, 2016 The Cipher Brief

  • A North Korean long-range rocket is launched at the Sohae launch site in North Korea, February 7, 2016

    North Korea Rocket Launch: Why Did Kim Fire a Missile Now?

    Kim Jong-un is probably seeking clear successes before his important Seventh Party Congress in May, when he wants to appear to be the all-powerful leader of North Korea.

    Feb 8, 2016 BBC

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un addresses the fourth conference of artillery personnel of the KPA in Pyongyang, December 5, 2015

    Does North Korea Really Have an H-Bomb?

    Kim Jong Un has claimed that North Korea has an H-bomb. Whether this claim is accurate, or an exaggeration, remains to be seen. But it does highlight how the country's leadership culture requires Kim to periodically demonstrate his power.

    Dec 16, 2015 CNN

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Central Military Commission

    Why Kim Jong Un Fears South Korean Propaganda

    While the latest confrontation between North and South Korea appears to be ending peacefully, it provides insight into future North Korean provocations. Words as weapons can work when they are aimed at North Korea's internal politics and backed up by a strong South Korean response supported by the U.S.

    Aug 28, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • Two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors are launched during a successful intercept test in September 2013

    South Korea's Missile-Defense System Decision: Q&A with Bruce Bennett

    What might it mean if the U.S. deploys the terminal high-altitude air defense missile system known as THAAD in South Korea? Chinese pressure on South Korea to not allow THAAD deployment has become a major regional security issue.

    Apr 3, 2015 The RAND Blog

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claps during a photo session at a meeting of military and political cadres in this undated photo released by the KCNA, February 2, 2015

    North Korean Charm Offensive: Peace for Our Time?

    Is North Korea really sincere about wanting to negotiate improved relations with South Korea and the United States? Or is it seeking to undermine the strength and sovereignty of its neighbor, just as Germany did before World War II?

    Feb 3, 2015 The Korea Herald

  • A security guard at the entrance of United Artists Theater during the premiere of the film 'The Interview' in Los Angeles, December 11, 2014

    Is the North Korean Regime Out of Control?

    Evidence points to North Korean involvement in the Sony hack. But it's impossible to know if top regime leaders sanctioned the attack or if it was carried out by another part of the government without their knowledge and consent. An unauthorized hack would only add to Kim Jong-un's worry over his regime's instability.

    Dec 23, 2014 Newsweek

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un guides a takeoff and landing drill on a highway airfield in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang, October 19, 2014

    Did North Korea Hack Sony?

    North Korea has tried pressuring Sony Pictures, the White House, and the UN to halt the release of a film that depicts Kim Jong-un in terms Kim would not want the world and especially his elites to see. After failing to stop the film diplomatically, North Korea may have been motivated to escalate its efforts.

    Dec 11, 2014 Newsweek

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

    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 The Korea Herald

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance at the October 8 Factory in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang August 31, 2014

    What Does North Korea Want?

    Currently, three U.S. citizens are being detained in North Korea. It is likely that North Korea wants someone like a former U.S. president to come to North Korea instead of U.S. Ambassador Bob King, whose visits were cancelled.

    Sep 18, 2014 The RAND Blog

  • Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers carry parachutes for drop training during a military drill west of Tokyo, July 8, 2013

    Why Japan's Military Shift Is Necessary for South Korea

    With its collective self-defense policy, Japan assumes its responsibilities to support the defense of South Korea and regional security in general, an appropriate action given the economic and other independencies of the regional countries.

    Jul 7, 2014 The Wall Street Journal

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits an outpost at Mount Osung

    North Korea's Latest Military Operations

    Whatever form of chest thumping comes next from Kim, it is clear that his goal is to put forward the appearance of strength and power, when in reality he faces instability at home and scorn from the international community.

    Apr 8, 2014 The RAND Blog

  • East German citizens climb the Berlin wall at the Brandenburg Gate as they celebrate the opening of the border November 10, 1989

    N. Korea Could Fall Faster Than We Think

    The United States, South Korea and their allies would be well advised to factor in the possibility that North Korea could collapse in a fit of revolt and economic decay at any time, just as East Germany did, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jun 3, 2013 The Korea Herald

  • ROK Navy sailors wave U.S. and ROK flags to welcome Los Angeles-class submarine USS Cheyenne to Busan

    Enhancing Security Cooperation at the Korea-U.S. Summit

    The U.S.-South Korean Extended Deterrence Policy Committee was setup to deter North Korean threats. The upcoming summit should ratify the progress of this effort, reassuring both the Korean and U.S. people that these threats are being managed.

    May 7, 2013 The Korea Herald

  • North Korean soldiers attend a rally celebrating the country's third nuclear test at the Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang, February 14, 2013

    North Korea's Third Nuclear Test: A Sign of Weakness, Not Strength

    The ROK and the United States should take actions to deter subsequent North Korean provocations while punishing the country for its nuclear weapon test. Such actions could convince it that the ROK/U.S. are serious and able to impose high costs, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Feb 15, 2013 The RAND Blog

  • North Korean stamp depicting children on a rocket

    North Korean 'Satellite' May Fall from Sky, but That Won't Deter Kim Jong-Un

    Kim Jong-Un's regime has placed outsized import on its missile launches—despite the risk of alienating the international community—to offset the lack of success across a wide range of topics, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Dec 21, 2012 The RAND Blog

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visits a military unit on an island in the most southwest of Pyongyang in this picture released by KCNA news agency August 18, 2012

    North Korea's Just Getting Started

    While many observers of North Korea have been surprised by the apparently peaceful ascension of Kim Jong-Un, there are reasons to believe that the situation in the North is not so stable, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Dec 12, 2012 U.S. News & World Report

  • Syria's Chemical Weapons, and Beyond

    Every possible effort toward peaceful resolution and proliferation avoidance, even to the extent of offering safe passage and immunity to reprehensible characters in order to buy the safe transfer and control of such materials, is worth consideration, write James T. Quinlivan and Bruce W. Bennett.

    Jul 26, 2012 RAND.org and GlobalSecurity.org

  • North Korean Defense Chief's Retirement Has Hallmarks of Purge

    It is notable that North Korea's Politburo made the Ri announcement, suggesting a rise in power of the party relative to the military. The choice of Ri's successor is also curious, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jul 17, 2012 RAND.org and GlobalSecurity.org

  • Anatomy of a War Game

    War games are especially important as countries prepare to counter adversaries who use asymmetric strategies or weapons, forcing military planners to deal with unfamiliar threats, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jun 12, 2012 World Policy Blog

  • North Korea: Uncertain and Dangerous Times Ahead

    With his father's support over the last year, Kim Jong-Un has tried to rapidly reshape the North Korean leadership structure, giving him many new subordinates who are untried and lacking experience. Some will clearly make mistakes, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Dec 21, 2011 RAND.org

  • Alternative to Futile Negotiations with N.K.

    Clearly, it's time for a new strategy, one that North Korea has been loathe to discuss: hasten Korean unification under South Korea's leadership, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Nov 23, 2010 The Korea Herald

  • The Sinking of the Cheonan: Engage or Retaliate?

    North Korea's apparent sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan marks a new low in the North's provocative behavior. While some would prefer to respond with carrots rather than sticks, it is time to take action that imposes political costs on Kim Jong-il, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jun 30, 2010 Global Asia, A Journal of the East Asia Foundation

  • Managing Catastrophic North Korea Risks

    In recent years, U.S. commanders of the ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command have been unanimous in stating that CFC could defeat a North Korean invasion. Nevertheless, they have also expressed concern about the catastrophic damage that North Korea could do to the ROK before losing, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jan 21, 2010 The Korea Herald

  • Getting Value from the U.S.-ROK Summit

    For months, North Korea has been trying to upstage the summit between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama that is scheduled for June 16. Almost all Americans I know have heard of these North Korean provocations. But few have heard anything about the U.S.-ROK summit, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jun 15, 2009 The Korea Herald

  • No Surprise in Failure To Deter N. Korea

    North Korea's latest misbehavior highlights an uncomfortable truth: the failure of the United States and the international community to deter North Korean actions. In this case, it is pretty easy to see why North Korea has not been deterred, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Jun 2, 2009 Chicago Tribune

  • N.K. Provocation Suggests Regime in Trouble

    North Korea spent weeks preparing to launch a ballistic missile that could reach the United States. It argued that the launch was intended to put a satellite into orbit. But a space launch vehicle is a ballistic missile used for a modestly different purpose, writes Bruce W. Bennett.

    Apr 9, 2009 The Korea Herald

  • A New National Strategy for Korea: North Korea Threats Require Deterrence, Reconciliation

    The new Korean government should fully recognize the North Korean military threats and respond by fielding military counters against dangerous North Korean military capabilities, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Mar 13, 2008 The Korea Herald

  • Changes From Command Transfer

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Changes From Command Transfer, in Korea Times.

    Dec 6, 2006 Korea Times

  • N Korea Policy Options

    Published commentary by RAND staff: N Korea Policy Options, in United Press International.

    Nov 28, 2006 United Press International

  • What's to Stop Kim Now?

    Published commentary by RAND staff: What's to Stop Kim Now?, in International Herald Tribune.

    Oct 17, 2006 International Herald Tribune

  • On the Edge

    Published commentary by RAND staff: On the Edge, in the Washington Times.

    Oct 15, 2006 Washington Times

  • A Different Axis: Don't Try Regime Change in North Korea

    Is it time for Operation Korean Freedom? The regime change in Iraq has prompted some to urge regime change in the other two members of the President George W. Bush's "axis of evil," North Korea and Iran.

    Jan 31, 2004 International Herald Tribune

  • Now, Back to the Real Threat? The One with Nukes

    While the mop-up of the war in Iraq dominates the news today, North Korea remains an unresolved crisis that could mean nuclear war for the United States.

    Apr 13, 2003 Orange County Register

  • N. Korea's Threat to S. Korea

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Mar 7, 2003 United Press International

  • Four Horrible Choices in North Korea

    Every option the United States faces in resolving our nuclear dispute with North Korea is a horrible choice -- but some are more horrible than others, writes Bruce Bennett in an commentary.

    Jan 14, 2003 San Diego Union-Tribune

  • North Korea -- Friend or Foe?

    While the level of mistrust between the U.S. and North Korea is too high for very close cooperation now, North Korea has apparently offered to provide terrorist-related information to Washington. The U.S. should pursue such discussions.

    Dec 2, 2001 Los Angeles Times

Publications