What We've Been Up To
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.
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.
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.
Military jobs in intelligence, information technology fields have more earning power in civilian life, study finds
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.
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.
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.
"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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Attacks On U.S. Embassies That Have Taken Two Hours Or Less Have Been Too Fast For Rapid Response Teams, Study Finds
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.
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."
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Edward Geist and Marjory Blumenthal discuss the use of AI for deception and evasion in a commentary in War on the Rocks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.