Jeffrey Engstrom

Photo of Jeffrey Engstrom
Senior Political Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Washington Office


Ph.D. in public policy, George Mason University; M.P.P. in public policy, University of Chicago; B.A. in political science and international studies, University of Nebraska


Jeffrey Engstrom is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. His research focuses on Asia-Pacific security and foreign policy issues; China’s warfighting concepts and capabilities; coercion theory and use of coercive military force; and military intervention and security cooperation.

Before joining RAND, Engstrom was a defense policy analyst at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in McLean, Virginia, where, in addition to researching East Asian military capabilities, he also developed expertise in war gaming. Prior to his work at SAIC, Engstrom served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Engstrom received his B.A. in political science and international studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in public policy from George Mason University.

Selected Publications

Jeffrey Engstrom, Systems Confrontation and System Destruction Warfare: How the Chinese People's Liberation Army Seeks to Wage Modern Warfare, RAND Corporation (RR-1708), 2018

Michael S. Chase, Jeffrey Engstrom, et al., China's Incomplete Military Transformation: Assessing the Weaknesses of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), RAND Corporation (RR-893), 2015

Jeffrey Engstrom, "Taking Disaster Seriously: East Asian Military Responses to International Disaster Relief and the Implications for Force Projection," Asian Security, 9(1), 2013

Jeffrey Engstrom, "PLA's Growing Force Projection Capabilities," China Brief, 10(25), 2010

Honors & Awards

  • 2020 Silver Medal Award, RAND Corporation, Office of the President
  • 2015 Silver Medal Award, RAND Corporation, Office of the President


  • A Chinese military band conductor prepares to perform before the opening ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 5, 2007

    China Has Big Plans to Win the Next War It Fights

    The People's Liberation Army (PLA) views modern conflict as a confrontation between opposing systems. This systems-thinking has wide ranging implications for how the PLA conceptualizes warfare in the twenty-first century.

    Feb 12, 2018 The National Interest

  • A Chinese naval ship departs after a visit in Davao city, southern Philippines, May 2, 2017

    Enhancing China's Status as a Great Power

    China is investing heavily in its military modernization program as it aims to extend its power in the region as well as globally. How will China's growing ability to project power affect U.S. regional goals?

    Aug 1, 2017 The Cipher Brief

  • People's Liberation Army soldiers take part in a search and rescue exercise near Qilian Yu subgroup in the Paracel Islands, known in China as Xisha Islands, South China Sea, July 14, 2016

    China's Military Reorganization Aims to Tighten Party Control and Strengthen the PLA's Warfighting Capabilities

    Xi Jinping's reforms could result in a leaner, more combat-effective PLA that presents a more potent challenge to China's neighbors and to U.S. interests. But even successful reforms will not guarantee victory on the battlefield, and any hypothetical conflict involving the U.S. would carry tremendous risks.

    Sep 6, 2016 ChinaFile

  • PLA soldiers march ahead of the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at Tiananmen Sqaure in Beijing, March 3, 2015

    China's Incomplete Military Transformation

    Although the People's Liberation Army has made impressive progress over the past 20 years, it still suffers from a number of potentially serious problems. Understanding its weaknesses — particularly what PLA officers themselves see as the most important shortcomings — is just as critical as studying its strengths.

    Mar 18, 2015 China Policy Institute Blog