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 Security Cooperation, Capacity Building in Developing Countries, Civil-Military engagement, Counterinsurgency, Counter-narcotics, Space Security, Diversity in the Military, Unconventional Warfare, Urban Combat and WMD Nonproliferation. Saum-Manning's current research includes: space war deterrence, reducing time burdens on Army company command-level leaders, Misson Command readiness for Army functional/multifunctional brigades, improving demographic diversity within the Air Force, and efforts to build sustainable security capacity in Africa, Central and South America. She has extensive experience engaging with U.S. and partner nation officials at the institutional, operational and tactical level. For example, 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). Her research focused on the interagency effort to support Afghan capacity-building and development activities. 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

  • "Addressing Barriers to Female Officer Retention in the Air Force"
  • "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, "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

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