National Defense Research Institute (NDRI)

The National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), conducts RAND research for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the defense agencies, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Navy. RAND research for the U.S. Air Force is carried out within RAND Project AIR FORCE, while research for the U.S. Army is carried out within RAND Arroyo Center.

The primary function of NDRI is research on complex national defense policy and strategy problems, where multidisciplinary capability, objectivity, and an explicit national-interest charter are essential. The NDRI Director is Jack Riley. NDRI research program is overseen by an advisory board composed of representatives of key sponsors within DoD. NDRI research is conducted within five centers: Acquisition and Technology Policy, Forces and Resources Policy, Cyber and Intelligence Policy, International Security and Defense Policy, and Navy and Marine Forces.

As an FFRDC, NDRI has a special relationship with its research sponsors. The primary source of analytic expertise for OSD and other DoD elements over the past 30 years, NDRI has established a unique, irreplaceable capability and capacity. NDRI researchers have acquired an in-depth knowledge of OSD’s requirements and institutional character and have used these to suggest innovative, effective ways of implementing current policy as well as to evaluate new, realistic policy options. The efficiency of the research effort has been aided by the development and maintenance of a base of knowledge and theory—that is, an institutional memory—as well as a suite of methods and tools. This infrastructure not only aids in and is further elaborated by long-term research efforts but also stands ready to support high-priority, short-run sponsor analytic needs.

NDRI Research Centers

NDRI operates through five interconnected centers:

  • The Acquisition and Technology Policy Center (ATP) addresses opportunities and challenges presented by advances in technology, in particular those enabled by the information revolution. It identifies ways to preserve and strengthen the nation’s military industrial base, along with innovative weapon system acquisition strategies.
  • The Forces and Resources Policy Center (FRP) analyzes issues affecting DoD’s human resources. These include policy options that help ensure that the United States is able to attract and retain high-quality military personnel, appropriately support the families of military personnel, and efficiently provide health care to service members, retirees, and their dependents.
  • The Cyber and Intelligence Policy Center (CIP) maintains a broad, substantive focus that spans international security, acquisition, and manpower issues affecting the collection, evaluation, and dissemination of national-security intelligence.
  • The International Security and Defense Policy Center (ISDP) explores how the global security environment is changing; how those new conditions affect U.S. interests; and what policies, strategies, and terms of U.S. engagement are needed to shape the environment and protect those interests.
  • The Navy and Marine Forces (NMF) helps the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), allied maritime and amphibious forces, and other clients manage acquisition, sustainment, personnel, force development and strategy issues.