What We've Been Up To

Six Lessons from Ukraine for Japanese Defense Planners

June 2023

Japanese leaders have already begun internalizing key lessons from Ukraine. Researcher Jeffrey Hornung considers the war in Ukraine from the perspective of Japanese decisionmakers.

Read the article in War on the Rocks

An Unwinnable War: Washington Needs an Endgame in Ukraine

June 2023

Researcher Samuel Charap writes that while the Western response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine was clear from the start, the objective has been nebulous. After over a year of fighting, the likely direction of this war is coming into focus.

Read the article

Ohio's Train Derailment—Not Spy Balloons—Is the Real National Security Threat

February 2023

Bradley Martin writes that "The slow degradation of infrastructure and disaster response is less a spectacle than an overflying balloon, but the train derailment and chemical spill in Ohio highlights just how bizarre such a focus on perceived external national security threats has become." Martin is the director of the RAND National Security Supply Chain Institute.

Read the article

A former analyst on mental health support in the intelligence community

December 2022

Heather Williams is interviewed in NPR about her experiences with mental health support during her 13 years in the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). Williams is one of the authors of Trauma in the U.S. Intelligence Community, a recent report that describes exposure to trauma within the IC.

Read or listen to the interview

Will robotized fire power replace manned air power?

September 2022

Researcher Peter Wilson examines robotized deep-strike operations in the Ukraine conflict as part of the Atlantic Council's essay series on airpower after Ukraine.

Read the essay on atlanticcouncil.org

Samuel Charap considers how Russia's war in Ukraine could escalate

March 2022

Russia's attack on Ukraine—horrific as it is in itself—has raised concerns in many Western capitals of an even-worse outcome: escalation to a broader war with nato allies which could involve nuclear weapons.

Read the perspective from Samuel Charap in The Economist

China's Security Contractors Have Avoided the Fate of Russia's Military Contractors, So Far

March 2022

Researcher Cortney Weinbaum writes in Real Clear Defense that China's approach to private security contractors (PSCs) is much more limited in scope and effects than Russia's use of private military contractors (PMCs), but that indications suggest that Chinese planners see benefits in expanding and maturing the country's use of private contractors.

Read more on Real Clear Defense

Fighting Domestic Extremism in the U.S. Military

January 2022

Marek Posard described findings from Reducing the Risk of Extremist Activity in the U.S. Military during a Government Matters interview. Among the recommendations, Posard explains that it is essential to provide support to commanders so they can spot early signs of extremism in service members.

Read more and watch on govmatters.tv

Watch on YouTube

Military jobs in intelligence, information technology fields have more earning power in civilian life, study finds

January 2022

Stars and Stripes interviewed RAND researcher Charles Goldman about the findings from Navigating a Big Transition: Military Service Members' Earnings and Employment After Active-Duty Service. This project sought to find out which military occupations are associated with higher rates of employment and higher levels of earnings after service.

Read the full article online

The Evolution of Special Operations as a Model for Information Forces

November 2021

An article from RAND researchers Christopher Paul and Michael Schwille continues to circulate within allied and U.S. military organizations. Originally published in February, the article makes comparisons between the history of U.S. special operations forces and contemporary information forces.

Read the full article online

Countering Extremism in the U.S. Military

October 2021

A RAND report by Todd Helmus and team on reducing the risk of extremism in the U.S. military grabbed headlines in multiple news outlets. The report was noted in the Military Times, whose story was picked up in other outlets including the Air Force Times, the Navy Times, Stars and Stripes, and Politico.

Read the report

A Serious Game

August 2021

"The best way to prepare for the unexpected may not be to make plans, or predictions, but to play games," explains Malcolm Gladwell. An episode of the Revisionist History podcast delves into serious games using a variety of examples drawn from RAND research

Listen to this episode of Revisionist History

Arming the Department of Defense's Environmental Liabilities Program

June 2021

Researchers Christy Foran, R. J. Briggs, and Kristin Van Abel suggest the Defense Department take advantage of the new emphasis on sustainable environmental conditions and develop a systematic approach to addressing its environmental liabilities.

Read the full Real Clear Defense article

Military Must Better Understand Sexual Assaults to Combat Them

June 2021

Andrew Morral and Terry Schell describe their findings based on the 2018 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of active-duty members, and the critical questions the Pentagon needs to answer as it tries to reduce the 20,000 sexual assaults in the ranks each year.

Read the full article in The Hill

The Link Between Extremism and Military Functioning

May 2021

Researchers Marek N. Posard, William Marcellino, and Todd Helmus examine active and passive extremism within the ranks of the U.S. military for an article in Military Times. They argue that one meaningful measure to help commanders might be to establish clear guidance on when extremist activities create a meaningful impact on unit cohesion, good order, discipline, health and safety, or mission accomplishment.

Read the full Military Times article

The Suez Grounding Was an Accident. The Next Blocked Chokepoint Might Not Be

Mar 2021

Senior engineer Scott Savitz writes that the stranding of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal appears have been an accident, but that it is similar to a tactic called "blockships" with a long history in warfare.

Read more in The RAND Blog

Attacks On U.S. Embassies That Have Taken Two Hours Or Less Have Been Too Fast For Rapid Response Teams, Study Finds

Feb 2021

Senior policy analyst Jacqueline Burns describes possible responses to embassy attacks as part of an extensive Forbes article that explores findings from her report Seizures of Western Diplomatic Facilities: Historical Timelines, 1979–2019.

Read the full article in Forbes

Europe's Emerging Contributions to NATO Air Power

Dec 2020

An article in Defense News references a RAND report by Anika Binnendijk, Gene Germanovich, Bruce McClintock, and Sarah Heintz, and writes that "European NATO nations without the fifth-generation F-35 combat jet should mold their fleets to complement the U.S.-developed aircraft in future operations."

Read the full article in Defense News

Jack Riley on China and Russia

Nov 2020

Jack Riley appeared (virtually) on Bloomberg's "Balance of Power" to discuss the national security priorities that the new Biden administration will need to address. "My top three would be China, Russia, and reinvigorating relationships with key allies," Riley states at the beginning of the segment (about 34 minutes into the program).

Watch the full episode on bloomberg.com

PAXsims reviews Hedgemony

Nov 2020

A game review in the influential PAXsims blog gave RAND's Hedgemony game high marks, calling it a "serious game intended to spark thoughtful discussion on strategic issues." Blogger Rex Brynen, plans to use the game at McGill University when classes resume.

Read the post on the PAXsims blog

Wormuth Testifies about the Value of Allies and Partnerships

Sep 2020

Christine Wormuth, director of NSRD's International Security and Defense program, testified before the house armed services committee to stress the value of the alliances and partnerships the United States has developed in an era of great power competition.

Read the full text of Wormuth's tesimony on RAND.org

Rethinking the U.S. Navy's Carrier Fleet

July 2020

U.S. Naval War College professor Angus King refers at length to the RAND report Future Aircraft Carrier Options as he rethinks the carrier fleet in a commentary in War on the Rocks.

Read the article in War on the Rocks

Drone-Era Warfare Shows the Operational Limits of Air Defense Systems

July 2020

John Parachini and Peter Wilson use examples from Syria and Libya to show how ineffective Russia's air defense systems have been at countering drones and low-flying missiles. "In the face-off between expensive air defensive systems and lower cost offensive drones and low-flying missiles, the offense is winning," they write in Real Clear Defense.

Read more on The RAND Blog

This article has been translated into Arabic (العربية).

Scott W. Harold and Soo Kim on North Korea in Real Clear Defense

July 2020

What would North Korea's relations with the US, the South, and Japan be like without Kim Jong Un? More of the same, thanks to the North's long-entrenched elites, according to a commentary by Scott W. Harold and Soo Kim.

Read the article in Real Clear Defense

The future of AI and autonomous systems

July 2020

Rand Waltzman joined the Stars & Stripes Military Matters podcast to discuss how disinformation, misinformation, censorship, social media and news media all play parts in how facts are presented and potentially distorted. What can individuals do to recognize bad information and protect themselves?

Listen to the podcast Read the transcript

Rajeev Ramchand

June 2020

Senior behavioral scientist Rajeev Ramchand appears in the Out in National Security 2020 Leadership List. The list is intended to honor the contributions of 40 LGBTQIA+ experts in U.S. national security and foreign policy.

See the Out in National Security 2020 list

The future of AI and autonomous systems

Apr 2020

Yuna Huh Wong joins the Fed Access podcast to discuss how artificial intelligence and the use of autonomous unmanned systems could impact future military crises and conflicts around the world.

Listen to the episode of the Fed Access podcast

Toward a New Theory of Power Projection

Apr 2020

Senior political scientist Michael Mazarr writes that even before the COVID-19 crisis, the military demands for long-istance power projection were becoming financially untenable. Is it time for a major shift in how the United States plans to fulfill this critical military mission?

Read the full article on warontherocks.com

The No-First-Use Debate: Arguments, Assumptions, and an Assessment.

Apr 2020

Political scientist Lisa Saum-Manning writes with Alexis Blanc in the SAIS Review of International Affairs about a proposal for the U.S. to declare that it will not use nuclear weapons first. The authors write that the potential consequences of a no-first-use declaration must be robustly explored to determine how the approach impacts US credibility to defend itself, its allies, and how it might impact overall stability.

Read the full article on muse.jhu.edu (free until May 31)

COVID-19 and the U.S. Military

Apr 2020

Christine Wormuth, director of the NSRD International Security and Defense Program, joins three other experts on U.S. national security to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. military. Wormuth endorses the idea of a national 9/11-style commission to scrutinize the U.S. response to COVID-19 and discusses the DoD's ability to assist in the pandemic.

Listen to the episode of the CSIS Defense 2020 podcast on Apple Podcasts

Samuel Charap on tensions between Russia and the West

Feb 2020

Senior political scientist Samuel Charap discussed conclusions from A Consensus Proposal for a Revised Regional Order in Post-Soviet Europe and Eurasia as part of a panel discussion organized by the Center for International Studies at Sciences Po in Paris.

Listen to the panel on soundcloud

Mike Decker on the early years of Marine Corps intelligence

Feb 2020

Senior defense analyst Mike Decker collaborated with former RAND researcher William Mackenzie to contribute an article titled The Birth and Early Years of Marine Corps Intelligence to the Marine Corps University's history of the U.S. Marine Corps magazine.

Read the full article (PDF, page 39)

RAND Recommendations for Improving DoD STEM Workforce Diversity included in FY20 NDAA

Jan 2020

The Conference Report for the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) directs the DoD to implement "each recommendation included in the 2013 report of the RAND corporation titled 'First Steps Toward Improving DoD STEM Workforce Diversity.'" This study, led by Nelson Lim, recommends that DoD clearly articulate which aspects of diversity to prioritize, establish goals, coordinate efforts across the organization, and pursue a managed-change plan to improve STEM workforce diversity.

Read the full text of the Conference Report for the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA

Iranian Commander Soleimani Killed: RAND Experts React

Jan 2020

RAND researchers—including Ariane Tabatabai, Colin Clarke, Dalia Dassa Kaye, Becca Wasser, and James Dobbins—were among the community of Middle East experts that reacted to the killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani just outside the Baghdad airport in Iraq.

Read RAND experts reactions in the hours after the U.S. strike

Breaches bring lessons for the intelligence community

Dec 2019

For the Agency in Focus podcast on the Federal News Network, Sina Beaghley discusses the Office of Personnel Management data breach, the effects of which are still looming over federal cyber efforts.

Listen to the podcast on the Federal News Network

Military deception, in short, could prove to be AI's killer app

Nov 2019

Edward Geist and Marjory Blumenthal discuss the use of AI for deception and evasion in a commentary in War on the Rocks.

Read the commentary in War on the Rocks

Will Blood-Bearing Delivery Drones Transform Disaster Relief and Battlefield Medicine?

Nov 2019

If unmanned aerial vehicles will soon be dropping packages at our doors, can they deliver blood to a combat or disaster zone? Absolutely, according to a new report by Christopher Gilmore, Michael Chaykowsky, and Brent Thomas. The trio developed a tool that uses distance, payload, and response times to determine what type of UAV fleet would be needed, and recommended fixed-wing drones that look more like planes than the usual quadcopter. The military in August ran a series of exercises to test the concept with the help of Zipline, a commercial drone operator. But as Thomas told Forbes and CNBC, military environments may be too dangerous for civilian vendors, though they could be useful in a disaster zone.

Read the article in Forbes

In Africa, military faces limited options when it comes to speedy care of injured

Oct 2019

Stars & Stripes reported on a RAND project aimed at helping the U.S. Africa Command figure out optimal ways to rescue injured personnel in Africa. The research report was written by Christopher A. Mouton, Edward W. Chan, Adam R. Grissom, John Godges, Badreddine Ahtchi, and Brian Dougherty.

Read the full Stars & Stripes article

Disinformation Series: Hostile Social Manipulation

Oct 2019

The Cipher Brief published an excerpt of the newly released Hostile Social Manipulation: Present Realities and Emerging Trends. The report about information warfare was authored by Michael J. Mazarr, Abigail Casey, Alyssa Demus, Scott W. Harold, Luke J. Matthews, Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga, and James Sladden.

Read the full article in the Cipher Brief

A Wargame at RAND Puts Teen Girls in Command

Aug 2019

An essay in RAND Review describes a wargame whose participants are all young women, part of a nationwide movement to bring some diversity to the male-dominated field of national security.

Read the full article essay in RAND Review

US military triggers ‘turbo activation' of wartime sealift ships

Sep 2019

The U.S. Transportation Command has announced a massive test of the sealift fleet's readiness, as Bradley Martin and Roland Yardley recommended in Approaches to Strategic Sealift Readiness. The authors' research called into question how TRANSCOM had been testing the effectiveness of "turbo activation"—giving semi-dormant cargo vessels with skeleton crews five days to prepare to go out to sea. The authors recommended that the "turbo activation" practice be revised to regular activation of multiple units for multiple days underway to align with missions. The test involving 28 ships is the largest exercise of its kind, according to Defense News. A TRANSCOM statement to Inside Defense says the test was "informed" by the study but not "driven" by it.

Read the full article on Defense News

Enrolling more security clearance holders in continuous evaluation could save billions

Sep 2019

The Federal News Network published an article focusing on the $30 billion in potential savings from enrolling more security clearance holders in continuous evaluation. The outlet also aired an interview with David Luckey, who co-authored the Assessing Continuous Evaluation Approaches for Insider Threat with David Stebbins, Rebeca Orrie, Erin Rebhan, Sunny D. Bhatt, and Sina Beaghley.

Read the full article on the Federal News Network

Sina Beaghley on the Women in National Security podcast

Aug 2019

Sina Beaghley, Associate Director of NSRD's Cyber and Intelligence Policy Center, appeared on a Women in National Security podcast for the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) to discuss characteristics of the national security workforce and challenges facing it, as well as needed security clearance reform. Beaghley's expertise is based on more than a decade of service in the federal government developing and implementing national security policies before she joined RAND.

Listen to the CNAS podcast

Civilization Has Always Been Collapsing For Somebody

June 2019

The question of whether civilization is on the verge of collapse may be as old as civilization itself. RAND defense researcher Jonathan Wong participates in a panel on the collapse of civilizations during a Zócalo/Getty event before an overflow crowd at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Listen to the CNAS podcast