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 interests focus on aspects of Defense Strategy and Homeland Security to include: Security Cooperation,  Civil-Military engagement, Counterinsurgency, Counter-narcotics, Space Security, Diversity in the Military, Unconventional Warfare, Urban Combat and WMD Nonproliferation and Defense Support to Civil Authorities.  She has a wide range of experience engaging with U.S. and partner nation officials at the institutional, operational and tactical level. For example, she recently returned from East Africa evaluating U.S. military efforts to build partner logistics capacity for UN peacekeepers deploying to Somalia. In 2018, she spent 6 months deployed to Puerto Rico to support FEMA's hurricane Maria recovery efforts. She taught CIV-MIL engagement courses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in support of upcoming elections. She co-presented a course on Strategic Intelligence in Colombia for ministerial-level intelligence officials. Saum-Manning also traveled to Guatemala to conduct research on border security and U.S. efforts to build partner capacity in the country. She also spent four months deployed to Afghanistan where she served as an analyst for the Commanding General of the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A). Prior to RAND, Saum-Manning conducted research at the Institute of International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and worked in the Nonproliferation and National Security Division at Brookhaven National Laboratory where her research assessed 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