Lynn E. Davis

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Adjunct Senior Fellow
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Ph.D. and M.A. in political science, Columbia University; B.A. in political science, Duke 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

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Lynn E. Davis is an adjunct senior fellow at the RAND Corporation. From 2006 to 2014 she served as director of RAND's Washington office and from 1993 to 1997, she served as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.

Her current research focuses on strategic planning, terrorism, citizen preparedness, and defense strategy and force structure issues. She was the senior study group advisor for the Commission on National Security/21st Century. Prior to joining the State Department, Davis was vice president and director of the RAND Arroyo Center. She has also served on the staffs of the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, and the first Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. She has taught in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, at the National War College, and at Columbia University.

Davis's recent RAND publications include: A Strategy to Counter ISIL as a Transregional Threat (Lynn Davis et al., 2017), Clarifying the Rules for Targeted Killing (Lynn Davis et al., 2016), The Days After a Deal with Iran: U.S. Policies of Hedging and Engaging (2014), Armed and Dangerous? UAVs and U.S. Security (Lynn E. Davis et al., 2014), Choosing A New Organization for Management and Disposition of Commercial and Defense High-Level Radioactive Materials (Lynn E. Davis et al., 2013). She earned her Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University.

Recent Projects

  • Terrorism
  • Homeland security
  • Citizen preparedness

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: CNN; New York Times; Reuters; Wall Street Journal; Washington Post

Commentary: CNN; The Connection; Newsweek; U.S. News & World Report


  • Iraqi army gather during a fight with Islamic State militants in Rashidiya, North of Mosul, Iraq, January 30, 2017.

    The Need for a Targeted Counter-ISIL Strategy

    Defeating ISIL is only possible if political conditions change in the Middle East, North and West Africa, and South Asia, and in ways that are exceedingly unlikely. The coalition should focus on reducing ISIL's ability to conduct attacks and on removing the underlying conditions that feed Sunni grievances.

    Feb 5, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • Ukrainian servicemen take part in a rehearsal for the Independence Day military parade in Kiev, August 19, 2016

    What Ukraine Urgently Needs to Defend Itself

    Many think that the United States should do more to help Ukraine defend itself. Analysis points to the potential of U.S. support for fundamental reform of Ukraine's security sector.

    Oct 16, 2016 Newsweek

  • World foreign ministers/secretaries of state in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2015, when Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal

    RAND Experts Q&A on the Iran Nuclear Deal, One Year Later

    Looking back on the past year, five RAND experts respond to a series of critical questions about the Iran nuclear deal, its implementation, and potential challenges ahead.

    Jul 12, 2016

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif waves after a plenary session at the UN building, Vienna, July 14, 2015

    The Iran Nuclear Deal: RAND Experts Answer Questions About the Days Ahead

    Diplomats have reached a nuclear agreement with Iran. Now, the United States faces important policy decisions that will help shape the days ahead and the relationship that emerges between Iran and the other parties involved.

    Jul 14, 2015

  • An MQ-9 Reaper sits on a ramp in Afghanistan

    Armed Drone Myth 3: Global Proliferation Demands Blanket Restrictions on Sales

    More than 70 countries have acquired drones of different classes and for different purposes. However, the number of countries actually developing

    Feb 19, 2015 The RAND Blog

  • An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft takes off from Joint Base Balad, Iraq

    Armed Drone Myth 2: It's Counterproductive to Develop International Norms

    The challenge in establishing international norms for armed drones will be to define rules that preserve the rights of countries to use them in legitimate ways against legitimate threats (senior al Qaeda or Islamic State terrorists) while constraining illegitimate uses (political dissidents).

    Feb 18, 2015 The RAND Blog

  • An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flightline at Creech Air Force Base, NV

    Armed Drone Myth 1: They Will Transform How War Is Waged Globally

    Long-range military drones are fundamentally misunderstood. Their champions wrongly contend they are revolutionizing warfare, while critics fear their spread would greatly increase the threat that China, terrorists, and others pose.

    Feb 17, 2015 The RAND Blog

  • Paratroopers during air assault training

    Changing World Climate Requires a Dynamic Foreign Policy

    As Secretary of State Kerry and former senator Chuck Hagel outline their thinking on the nation's strategy, let us hope that they both hold firm to the strategy that has served us well in the past and have the courage to explore a very different set of political and military ways to accomplish it, write Lynn Davis and Andrew Hoehn.

    Feb 15, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  • A federal court officer instructs court personnel during an evacuation of the Federal Court Building in New York, after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the East Coast, August 23, 2011, photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    Quake a Disaster 'Drill' D.C. Flunked

    Fortunately for the nation's capitol, Hurricane Irene and the East Coast earthquake proved to be relatively minor events, as far as disasters go. But before everyone breathes a sigh of relief, it would be wise to reflect on how people responded to what were essentially dress rehearsals for much bigger events, write Lynn E. Davis and Arthur L. Kellermann.

    Aug 29, 2011 CNN

  • How Can Individuals Be Better Prepared for Catastrophic Terrorist Attacks?

    Published RAND commentary by RAND staff.

    Jun 7, 2004 The Connection