International Security and Defense Policy Center

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Photo by MC1 Daniel Mennuto/U.S. Navy

The International Security and Defense Policy (ISDP) Center conducts in-depth analysis to help policy leaders make decisions about major national and international security challenges. ISDP's work spans political, security, and economic issues. Our analysis draws extensively on the best available qualitative and quantitative data, methodological tools, and RAND's core values of quality and objectivity.

Research Focus Areas

Tackling Major National Security Challenges

ISDP research has consistently focused on the most pressing challenges facing the United States and the world, including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, terrorism, and civil war. ISDP also conducts research on threats from cyber, space, as well as several emerging and future challenges such as artificial intelligence and human-machine collaboration.

For example, ISDP has helped clients develop strategies to counter anti-access/area-denial threats from advanced enemy missile capabilities. We have analyzed and developed strategies to target terrorist networks through the coordinated application of hard and soft power. We have developed options for small footprint counter-terrorism strategies, effective conventional and nuclear deterrence against Russian aggression, and America’s global counter-ISIL strategy.

Understanding the International Security Environment

ISDP continually updates its understanding of the global security environment and how to manage it. ISDP researchers draw on a broad range of techniques and tools to stay on the cutting edge of scholarly and policy research. To do so, we build diverse teams that draw on RAND’s deep bench of regional, functional, and technical expertise, while working closely with a global network of leading government and non-government experts.

Building Forces and Postures

Many allied militaries face fiscal pressure on defense budgets, necessitating analyses of how best to adjust force sizes, mixes, and postures. To help meet this challenge, ISDP has developed specialized tools to evaluate multiple force posture options and help policymakers better understand key tradeoffs. ISDP has also examined how U.S. competitors are modernizing their militaries to affect U.S. and allied military power projection.

Advancing security cooperation

Security cooperation remains an important component of U.S. defense strategy. ISDP supports U.S. efforts to strengthen allied and partner militaries by applying proven analytical frameworks that identify key needs and strategies for meeting them. ISDP has a range of tools to assess the benefits and costs of security cooperation programs, while also providing advice on program development and training in strategic and other forms of analysis.


ISDP clients include

  • Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
  • U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Office of the Secretary of Defense, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation
  • U.S. Department of Defense Office of Net Assessment
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • Australian Immigration Office
  • U.S. Department of Defense Unified Combatant Commands
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Japan
  • Saudi Arabia Ministry of Defense
  • Korea Foundation
  • Open Society Foundation
  • Smith Richardson Foundation
  • U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

Inquiries about the RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center or its activities can be directed to:

Christine Wormuth
Director, RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center
RAND Corporation
1200 South Hayes Street
Arlington, VA 22202-5050
(703) 413-1100 x5798