International Security and Defense Policy Center

Small planet earth on a chess board

The International Security and Defense Policy Center (ISDP) conducts in-depth research that helps U.S. and allied leaders make tough decisions about national and international security. ISDP's work spans the political, military, and economic aspects of global challenges, drawing on the best available qualitative data, quantitative data, and methodological tools. ISDP helps its clients understand and manage security challenges, evaluate the effectiveness of military forces and postures, and build the capacity of allies and partners.

Latest Publications

  • Handbook for Tactical Operations in the Information Environment 2021

    Michael Schwille, Jonathan Welch, Scott Fisher, Thomas M. Whittaker, Christopher Paul

    Early-career officers in tactical units must understand and operate in an increasingly complex information environment, but there are few opportunities for formal education and training. With its quick-reference format and series of illustrative vignettes, this handbook is intended to facilitate tactical problem-solving and increase awareness of when and how to contribute to the goals of operations in the information environment.

  • North Korean Sanctions Evasion Techniques 2021

    King Mallory

    The United Nations imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on North Korea, but enforcement has been mixed. This report details the entities involved in North Korean sanctions evasion activities and uses case studies to illustrate North Korea's sanctions evasion techniques in four general areas of sanctions evasion activity: hard-currency generation, restricted and dual-use technology acquisition, covert transport, and covert finance.

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Research Focus Areas

Understanding the International Security Environment

ISDP teams continuously analyze the evolving global security environment, using a broad range of techniques and tools to remain on the cutting edge of scholarly and policy research. Diverse ISDP teams arise from RAND’s deep bench of regional, functional, and technical experts, who work closely with global networks of leading government and nongovernment clients and contacts.

Developing Defense Strategies and Operational Concepts

ISDP focuses on the most-pressing challenges facing the United States and the world, including potential threats and opportunities relating to China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, terrorism, civil war, space, and technological change. ISDP has helped clients develop strategies and operational concepts through workshops, gaming, and other cutting-edge methods. Topics include countering advanced Chinese missiles, deterring Russian and North Korean aggression, and targeting terrorist networks through coordinated applications of hard and soft power.

Building Defense Forces and Postures

ISDP has developed specialized tools to evaluate multiple force sizes, mixes, and postures to help policymakers understand the key tradeoffs. ISDP has also examined how U.S. competitors are modernizing their military forces to constrain U.S. and allied military power projection.

Advancing Security Cooperation

Security cooperation is an important component of U.S. defense strategy. ISDP supports U.S. efforts to strengthen both the governments and the militaries of allies and partners. By applying proven analytical methods, ISDP helps identify opportunities for U.S. programs to improve the ability of allies and partners to operate alongside, or in place of, U.S. military forces. ISDP has a range of tools to assess the benefits and costs of security cooperation activities, to advise allies and partners on program development, and to strengthen their defense institutions and military capabilities.