David E. Thaler

David E. Thaler
Senior International/Defense Researcher
Washington Office


M.I.A. in International Security Policy/Middle East, Columbia University; B.A. in international relations, The George Washington University


David Thaler is a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation. In 35 years at RAND, he has led or participated in studies related to security cooperation with foreign partners, including planning and assessment, Title 10 reforms, prioritization, evaluation, and best practices; foreign policy and military implications of developments in Iran, Israel, Iraq, and the broader Middle East, as well as Iranian domestic politics; future U.S. military capabilities; and the strategies-to-tasks framework for force planning. He has also conducted research on first-strike stability, aircraft maintenance, and military readiness. He was detailed from RAND to the Air Staff from 1993 to 1995 and again from 2003 to 2004. Thaler received his M.I.A. (Master of International Affairs) in international security policy and the Middle East from Columbia University.

Recent Projects

  • Congressional authorities for security cooperation
  • Strategic challenges posed by Iran
  • Incorporating security cooperation impact into core decision making processes
  • Sectarianism in the Middle East
  • Measuring contributions to security cooperation objectives

Selected Publications

Keller, Kirsten M., David E. Thaler, Kathleen Reedy, Caroline Baxter, Ryan Haberman, William Mackenzie, Miriam Matthews, Phillip Padilla, and Yuliya Shokh, Human Aspects of Air Force Operations: The Roles of Social, Cultural, and Political Knowledge and Skills in the Full Spectrum of Multidomain Operations, RAND Corporation (RR-3221-AF), 2020

Cohen, Raphael S., David E. Johnson, David E. Thaler, Brenna Allen, Elizabeth M. Bartels, James Cahill, and Shira Efron, From Cast Lead to Protective Edge: Lessons from Israel's Wars in Gaza, RAND Corporation (RR-1888), 2017

Thaler, David E., Michael J. McNerney, Beth Grill, Jefferson P. Marquis, and Amanda Kadlec, From Patchwork to Framework: A Review of Title 10 Authorities for Security Cooperation, RAND Corporation (RR-1438), 2016

Mesic, Richard, David E. Thaler, David A. Ochmanek, and Leon Goodson, Courses of Action for Enhancing U.S. Air Force "Irregular Warfare" Capabilities: A Functional Solutions Analysis, RAND Corporation (MG-913), 2010

Thaler, David E., Alireza Nader, Shahram Chubin, Jerrold D. Green, Charlotte Lynch, and Frederic Wehrey, Mullahs, Guards, and Bonyads: An Exploration of Iranian Leadership Dynamics, RAND Corporation (MG-878), 2010

David E. Thaler "Chapter One: The Middle East: The Cradle of the Muslim World," in Rabasa, Angel, Cheryl Benard, Peter Chalk, C. Christine Fair, Theodore W. Karasik, Rollie Lal, Ian O. Lesser, and David E. Thaler, The Muslim World After 9/11, RAND Corporation (MG-246), 2004

Thaler, David E., Strategies to Tasks: A Framework for Linking Means and Ends, RAND Corporation (MR-300), 1993

Kent, Glenn A., David E. Thaler, First-Strike Stability: A Methodology for Evaluating Strategic Forces, RAND Corporation (R-3765), 1989


  • Counterinsurgency

    Making Headway Against the Sinai Insurgency

    Since 2013, Egypt has been engaged in the Sinai Peninsula against a deadly ISIS-affiliated insurgency. To make headway, the Egyptian government could focus on providing services in the region and repairing its relationship with citizens.

    Aug 12, 2019

    Small Wars Journal