Kimberly Jackson

Photo of Kimberly Jackson
International/Defense Researcher
Off Site Office


M.P.P., University of California, Berkeley; M.P.H., University of California, Berkeley; B.A. in journalism, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities


Kimberly Jackson is an international/defense researcher at the RAND Corporation and a Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty member. Her research focuses on military and organizational culture, special operations, military personnel policy, reserve forces, great power competition, and security assistance programs.

Prior to RAND, Jackson held several positions in Middle East policy and special operations policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, including as deputy director for Levant policy, senior Syria policy advisor, and as director of various counterterrorism programs. Jackson also served as a planner in three special operations commands, as a special assistant in the Pentagon's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation directorate, and as a management consultant for General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal. Previous to her work in the U.S. Department of Defense, Jackson was a defense policy advisor in the U.S. Senate, where she spearheaded legislation to create the National Guard and Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.

Jackson holds an M.P.P. and an M.P.H. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. in journalism from the University of Minnesota. Until 2020, she was an officer in the United States Navy Reserve, where she held assignments within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Naval Special Warfare and in the Chief of Naval Operations' Strategic Studies Group. Jackson is a contributing editor at War on the Rocks, a member of the Truman National Security Project, and was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 


  • Vehicles drive near Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River, in the town of Tabqa, after Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured it from Islamic State militants, Syria May 12, 2017

    Developing a Comprehensive Strategy for Countering the Islamic State

    Despite substantial policy and military focus, U.S. attempts to stop the Islamic State group have met with only varying degrees of success. A patient, long-term U.S. investment in governance—including a renewed commitment to addressing the root causes of instability in the Middle East—is needed in Iraq and Syria.

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