Lisa Saum-Manning

Photo of Lisa Saum-Manning
Political Scientist
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in political science, University of California, Los Angeles; B.A. in Spanish, Ohio State University


Lisa Saum-Manning is a Political Scientist whose research focuses on strategic planning for the U.S. Armed Forces and the Department of Homeland Security to include: Security Cooperation, Counterinsurgency, WMD Nonproliferation, Deterrence, Diversity/Recruitment/Retention challenges, and Disaster Recovery. Saum-Manning's current research focuses on optimizing the employment of the U.S. Army's new Security Forces Assistance Brigades. She also examines efforts to build security capacity in Africa, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region. She has extensive experience engaging with U.S. and partner nation officials. In 2019, she conducted field work in East Africa, evaluating U.S. military efforts to build partner logistics capacity for UN peacekeepers deploying to Somalia. In 2018, she spent 7 months deployed to Puerto Rico to support FEMA's hurricane recovery efforts. She  taught CIV-MIL engagement courses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; co-presented a course on Strategic Intelligence in Colombia for Colombian intelligence officials; and traveled to Guatemala to assess U.S. security cooperation efforts. Saum-Manning also spent four months deployed to Afghanistan as an analyst for the Commanding General of the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command. Additional research includes: urban combat, Security Cooperation workforce development, space and WMD deterrence, and diversity challenges for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard and the Los Angeles Fire Department. Prior to RAND, Saum-Manning worked in the Nonproliferation and National Security Division at Brookhaven National Laboratory assessing nuclear infrastructure capacity-building in developing countries. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Recent Projects

  • “Reducing the Time Burdens of Army Company Leaders"
  • "Career Development for the Department of Defense Security Cooperation Workforce"
  • “Assessing Partner-Nation Air, Space, and Cyber Capabilities, Supporting Development of Security Cooperation Strategy for the U.S. Air Force Flight Plan”
  • “Reimagining the Character of Urban Operations for the United States Army: Past, Present, and Future,”
  • What Works Best When Building Partner Capacity in Challenging Contexts?

Selected Publications

Lisa Saum-Manning, "VSO/ALP: Comparing Past and Current Challenges to Afghan Local Defense," Small Wars Journal, 2012

Lisa Saum-Manning, "All Good Things Must End: Don't worry about Russia backing away from the International Space Station or an old arms control plan.," US News and World Report, 2015




  • NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman works outside the International Space Station's Quest airlock in October 2014

    Don't Worry About Russia Backing Away from Space and WMD Cooperation

    Two symbols of U.S.-Russian cooperation are nearing the end of their life expectancies, the International Space Station and the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. But both stand as remarkable milestones of achievement and reminders of what can be accomplished when nations put aside political differences for the betterment of humanity.

    Feb 27, 2015 U.S. News & World Report