Periodic updates to Congress on RAND's work in terrorism and homeland security | Web version

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December 2015

Terrorism and
Homeland Security

In the News

French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (L), French President Francois Hollande (C), French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R), and students observe a moment of silence at the Sorbonne University, Paris, France, November 16, 2015

Guillaume Horcajuelo/Pool/Reuters

American Response to the Terrorist Attacks in Paris

The November 13th coordinated assault in France punctuated a wave of recent terror attacks, including the downing of a Russian passenger jet and suicide bombings in Lebanon. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bloodshed. What do the attacks mean for the coalition against ISIS and the global refugee crisis, and how should America respond? RAND experts have weighed in on the debate.

Featured Research and Commentary

ISIS Will Become More Deadly Before It Dies

Islamic State fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province, Syria

In the past year, ISIS has lost an estimated 15 to 25 percent of its territory in Syria and Iraq from its peak levels. As the group faces an intensified campaign after its action in Paris, it may lose even more. If history is any guide, says RAND's Seth Jones, this could mean more ISIS attacks in the West.

Read the commentary »

The Implications of the Paris Terrorist Attack for American Strategy in Syria and Homeland Security

A passerby pauses near a makeshift memorial with U.S. and French flags outside the French embassy in Washington, D.C.

Testifying before Congress, Brian Michael Jenkins explained that terrorists typically have the edge over governments attempting to stop them. As was the case in Paris, they usually prey on soft targets. However, terrorist plots in the United States reveal no signs of a deep pool of recruits—and the laws, institutions, and programs put in place since 9/11 appear to be working.

Read the testimony »

Time to Prepare for the Unthinkable

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in Tehran

If ISIS fulfills its vow to attempt an attack on U.S. soil, how should Americans be preparing? It is likely only a matter of time before the group tries, says RAND's Daniel Gerstein. But there are many steps America, including the Department of Homeland Security, can take to prepare. Tough, realistic training to practice responding to large-scale catastrophic events must be conducted with great frequency.

Read the commentary »

More on counterterrorism »

Spotlight on:

Enhancing U.S. Coast Guard Metrics

A U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety & Security Team on Patrol

Petty Officer Third Class Amanda Norcross/U.S. Coast Guard

In an era of declining budgets, the U.S. Coast Guard needs to measure its operational-level performance effectively to make informed decisions about resource allocation. To assist the Coast Guard in this effort, RAND developed hierarchical models describing each of the 11 statutory missions of the Coast Guard, and used the descriptions to ascertain what aspects of these missions should be measured.

The authors examined existing metrics in the light of these models, evaluating the metrics in terms how well they measured elements of the models, how consistently measurements can be made, and how easily measurements can be made. They also used the models to analyze the degree to which existing metrics covered all elements of the missions. They then developed and evaluated sets of potential metrics that could improve on or complement the existing metrics, together with a framework for applying metrics in decisionmaking.

After finding that many metrics do not capture all the elements of the models, the authors had a few recommendations for the Coast Guard:

  • Using models to describe missions enables the Coast Guard to assess what it needs to measure with respect to each mission, so the service can select from among existing and proposed metrics to find those that are most suitable for addressing operational questions and making decisions.
  • However, the metrics will need to be evaluated to determine appropriate values for individual metrics and relationships among metrics.
  • The Coast Guard can also coordinate with other components of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as with the Department of Defense, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Drug Enforcement Agency, and other agencies, to align operational metrics in a way that facilitates communication and decisionmaking.
  • The Coast Guard can use a structured framework to facilitate the use of metrics in making operational-level decisions.

Read the report »

RAND Congressional Resources Staff

Jayme Fuglesten
Director, Office of Congressional Relations

Laura Patton
Terrorism and Homeland Security Legislative Analyst

RAND Office of Congressional Relations
(703) 413-1100, ext. 5395


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