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Saudi Arabia, Border Troops, China's Military: RAND Weekly Recap

November 23, 2018

This week, we discuss the U.S.-Saudi relationship; what makes deterrence effective; what life is like as an Army private; how to train principals; the goal of China's air power; and what role the U.S. military plays in border enforcement.

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 20, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House, March 20, 2018

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The U.S.-Saudi Partnership: A Close Look

On Tuesday, the White House announced that the United States would remain a "steadfast partner" of Saudi Arabia, despite new reports about Riyadh's alleged role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The administration cited security and economic benefits as key drivers of the decision. But RAND experts note that the Saudis need U.S. support more than America needs Saudi Arabia. The United States could indeed use this leverage to encourage the Saudi government to curb its damaging policies abroad.

A world map with digital infographics

Photo by Image by matejmo/Getty Images

How to Deter Aggression Abroad

Russian aggression in the Baltics. Chinese belligerence at sea. North Korean threats on the South. What's required to deter potential aggressors abroad from attacking U.S. allies or other countries? According to a new RAND report that takes a fresh look at deterrence, managing an aggressor's motives is a key first step.

Pfc. Lena Wright, a supply clerk, catalogs and monitors class VIII supplies during a mass casualty exercise, October 17, 2012

Pfc. Lena Wright, a supply clerk, catalogs and monitors class VIII supplies during a mass casualty exercise, October 17, 2012

Photo by U.S. Army

What Life Is Like as an Army Private

History records the names of generals. But what about the privates who fill out supply forms, clean out trucks, or huff through training exercises? These soldiers keep the U.S. Army running, and so their stories matter. Findings from new RAND research offer an inside look at what it really means to serve in the junior ranks.

A principal and teacher walking in a school corridor

Photo by Hill Street Studios/Sarah Golonka/Getty Images

Improving Principal Training Programs

Principals are crucial. They set school vision and culture, support teacher effectiveness, and help improve student achievement. So how can training programs better prepare them to succeed? To find out, RAND is evaluating an initiative by the Wallace Foundation to improve training for aspiring school leaders. Initial findings suggest that universities participating in the initiative have begun to change their principal preparation programs to better reflect the real-world demands of the job.

A PLAAF J-20 stealth fighter performs during the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, China, November 6, 2018

A PLAAF J-20 stealth fighter performs during the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, China, November 6, 2018

Photo by Stringer/Reuters

China's Air Power Goal: 'Defeat, Not Compete'

Advancing aerospace power is a core feature of Chinese military modernization. A new RAND report explains what's driving Beijing's efforts: To deter, and, if necessary, defeat the United States in a high-end clash. In pursuit of this end, Beijing sometimes chooses to copy what other other foreign powers are doing. Other times, Beijing is an innovator. The report concludes that both of these are valid pathways to helping China achieve its goal.

U.S. Marines install concertina wire along the top of the primary border wall at the port of entry next to Tijuana, Meico, in San Ysidro, San Diego, U.S., November 9, 2018

U.S. Marines install concertina wire along the top of the wall at the San Ysidro Port of Entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, San Diego, California, November 9, 2018

Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

The Military's Border Enforcement Role

Nearly 6,000 active-duty troops who were sent to the U.S.-Mexico border will reportedly head home soon. According to RAND's Christine Wormuth, it's unclear why such a large military response was needed in the first place. What is clear, she says, is that such a deployment is expensive. And it diverts soldiers and Marines from training for their warfighting missions.

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