Burgess Laird

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Senior International Researcher
Washington Office


M.B.A. in business management, Pepperdine University; A.B.D. in comparative politics and East Asian security, University of Denver; B.A. in politics, University of Dallas; Seminar XXI in international relations, MIT

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Burgess Laird is a senior international resarcher at the RAND Corporation and an adjunct instructor in the Masters Program in Global Security Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His subject matter areas of expertise are defense strategy, threat assessment, force planning, deterrence, and arms control and non-proliferation. He has held senior positions in the private and public sectors to include positions with the Institute for Defense Analyses, the Office of the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

A recognized expert in the national security arena, Laird was honored to serve in 2008 through 2009 as a senior analyst and advisor to the U.S. Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, also known as the Perry-Schlesinger Commission. In 2011-12, he served as a fellow in MIT's Seminar XXI Program on Foreign Politics, International Relations & the National Interest. From 2012-2014, he was invited to participate in the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s “Verification Pilot Project,” a collaborative, multinational effort formed to develop new approaches to verification necessary for future arms reductions. Laird has lectured on defense strategy, deterrence, and arms control issues at academic institutions including the University of California (Berkeley), Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, the Royal College of Defence Studies, and the U.S. Naval Academy among other venues. He is a member of the Royal United Services Institute and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Laird earned his M.B.A. from Pepperdine University.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University, Graduate Program in Global Security Studies

Previous Positions

Institute for Defense Analysis, Hicks& Associates, DFI, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Office of the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Recent Projects

  • Deterrence in the 21st Century
  • U.S.-China Scorecards

Selected Publications

Yuna H. Wong, Ed., Deterrence in the Age of Thinking Machines, RAND (RR-2797-RC), 2020

Michael J. Mazarr, Ed., The U.S. Department of Defense's Planning Process: Components and Challenges, RAND (RR-2173/2-A), 2019

Burgess Laird, "War Control: Chinese Writing on the Control of Escalation in Crisis and Conflict," Center for New American Studies, 2017

Andrew Hoehn, Ed., Strategic Choices for a Turbulent World: In Pursuit of Security and Opportunity, RAND (RR-1631-RC), 2017

Eric Heginbotham, Ed, Chinese Attacks on Air Bases in Asia: An Assessment of Relative Capabilities 1996-2017, RAND (RB-9858z2-AF), 2015

Eric Heginbotham, Chinese Treats to U.S. Surface Ships: An Assessment of Relative Capabilities, 1996-2017, RAND (RB-9858Z4-AF), 2015

Eric Heginbotham, Ed., U.S. and Chinese Air Superiority Capabilities: An Assessment of Relative Capabilities 1996-2017, RAND (RB-9858z3-AF), 2015