Rick Brennan, Jr.

Photo of Rick Brennan
Senior Political Scientist
Off Site Office


Ph.D. in political science/international relations, University of California, Los Angeles; M.S. in political science/international relations, University of California, Los Angeles; B.S. in criminal justice, Arizona State University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

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Rick Brennan is an adjunct political scientist at the RAND Corporation and a career Army officer with high-level Department of Defense experience on issues relating to the war in Iraq, conflict resolution, homeland defense, and strategic planning. Brennan joined RAND in 1999 and since 2006 he has served in successive positions in Iraq to include supporting MNF-I/USF-I as the RAND team leader for the Joint Interagency Task Force-Iraq (JIATF-I) and as the senior advisor to the USF-I director of Operations (J3). Starting in 2016 he served as the lead strategy and policy subject matter expert working on the Iraq Defense Governance Management Team (DGMT). He has conducted significant research and analysis on the transition from military operations to civilian control in Iraq between 2003 and 2012. He has led and participated in several other RAND studies related to homeland security, homeland defense, and military transformation.

Prior to joining RAND, Brennan served as a program manager directing projects related to the Revolution in Military Affairs for OSD (Net Assessment). He is a former Army officer, who, in addition to infantry command and staff positions, spent six years in positions related to national security and defense policy, including two years working within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and three years serving as an assistant professor at the United States Military Academy. A decorated officer, Brennan received the Defense Superior Service Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards), and the Army Commendation Medal. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA.

Recent Projects

  • Defense Governance Management Team -Iraq
  • Russia Strategic Initiative
  • Iraq Transitions: 2003-2012
  • Senior Advisor to the Director of Operations (J3)
  • Special Operations and Phase IV Operations in Iraq 2003-2005

Selected Publications

Richard R. Brennan, Jr., Charles P. Ries, et al., Ending the U.S. War in Iraq: The Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces - Iraq, RAND (RR-232-USFI), 2013

Richard R. Brennan Jr., et al., Smooth Transitions? Lessons Learned from Transferring U.S. Military Responsibilities to Civilian Authorities in Iraq, RAND (RB-9749-USFI), 2013

"Military Planning Efforts, Combat Operations During Phase IV," in Nora Bensahel, Olga Oliker, Keith Crane, Richard R. Brennan Jr., Heather S. Gregg, Thomas Sullivan, and Andrew Rathmel, After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq, RAND (MG-642-A), 2008

Peter Schirmer, Henry A. Leonard, James C. Crowley, Nancy E. Blacker, Richard R. Brennan., Jr., J. Michael Polich, Jerry Sollinger, and Daniel M. Varda, Leader Development in Army Units: Views from the Field, RAND (MG-648-A), 2008

Lynn Davis, David E. Mosher, Richard R. Brennan., Jr., Michael D. Greenberg, Charles Yost, Scott McMahon, An Army Strategy for Homeland Security, RAND (RB-9069-A), 2004

Lynn Davis, David E. Mosher, Richard R. Brennan Jr., K. Scott McMahon, Michael D. Greenberg, Charles Yost, Army Forces for Homeland Security, RAND (MG-221-A), 2004

Rick Brennan, Protecting the Homeland: Insights from Army Wargames, RAND (MR-1490-A), 2002

Honors & Awards

  • Fellow, Seminar XXI, 1993, Department of the Army/Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Defense Superior Service Medal, Department of Defense
  • Army Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards), and Army Commendation Medal, U.S. Army

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: ABC Radio Australia; ARD News, Germany; Bloomberg Radio; Jazeera America; KDKA-AM; KPCC-FM AirTalk; NewsMax.com; NPR, All Things Considered


  • Posters of a boy, killed in Shi'ite-Sunni violence, displayed on his grave in Sanaa, Yemen, November 17, 2014

    The Tortured Roots of Sectarian Violence

    The recent increase of sectarian terrorism is best understood as a product of the ancient Sunni-Shiite divide, the growth of modern-day extremist groups, the Iranian-Saudi rivalry, and the growing phenomenon of fractured states.

    Dec 12, 2014 The Mark News

  • Iran's Covert War in Iraq

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Iran's Covert War in Iraq, in the Washington Times.

    Mar 16, 2007 Washington Times