Civil Defense

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Civil defense comprises activities designed to minimize the effects of war on the civilian population, deal with immediate emergency conditions, and quickly restore vital utilities and facilities damaged in an attack. RAND research assists national, state, and local agencies in preventing and mitigating terrorist activities; improving civil defense preparedness, response, and recovery actions; and understanding critical infrastructure needs.

  • Commentary

    Defending Taiwan with Artificial Reefs

    Deterring a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is arguably the most important defense problem of the next few decades. Artificial reefs could help to deter China simply by waiting to impale any potential invasion force.

    May 10, 2023

  • Report

    Ukrainian Civilians' Contributions to Resisting Russia

    Civilian-based resistance in Ukraine began in the first hours of Russia's 2022 invasion. Civilians' actions have potential value in helping ensure victory by regaining territorial integrity and maintaining political sovereignty. And this war offers insight into what civilian contributions in future wars could look like.

    Aug 15, 2023

Explore Civil Defense

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Maui Wildires, Regulating AI, Ukraine's Civilian Resistance: RAND Weekly Recaps

    This weekly recap focuses on the invisible damage of Maui’s wildfires, making the artificial intelligence supply chain safer, how Ukrainian civilians resist Russia, and more.

    Aug 18, 2023

  • Taiwanese Army service members control a drone during a drill in Taiwan, January 12, 2023, photo by Taiwan Ministry of National Defense handout via EYEPRESS/Reuters

    Commentary

    Can Cheap Drones Be the Answer to Tensions in the Taiwan Strait?

    The more we learn about the war in Ukraine, the more we come to know that drones will play an increasingly important role on the modern battlefield. But how is the U.S. military thinking about what role these aircraft might play in future wars? When paired with modern sensors, could they offer an asymmetric advantage in future competitions?

    Jun 29, 2023

  • Sailors on the USS Wasp observe as the Japanese destroyer JS Yuugiri moors alongside in Okinawa, Japan, April 23, 2018, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Japan's Strategic Shift: Significant, but Implementation Hurdles May Await

    Japan's new strategic documents appear to demonstrate a recognition in Tokyo that it must do more for its own defense in the face of unprecedented security challenges. The dedication of resources, pursuit of new capabilities, and overarching commitment to a more robust defense are all significant moves that represent landmark change by one of America's key allies.

    Jan 27, 2023

  • U.S. Navy vessels participate in an exercise with uncrewed surface vessels off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia, October 12, 2022, photo by Warren Duffie/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Could Taiwan Defend with Uncrewed Surface Vessels?

    Ukraine has demonstrated the ability of explosive uncrewed surface vessels to target ships. These weapons could play a role in preventing Chinese forces from successfully invading Taiwan in potential future scenarios.

    Jan 9, 2023

  • Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visits army reservist troops during training in Nanshipu, Taiwan, March 12, 2022, photo by Ann Wang/Reuters

    Commentary

    Ukraine War Is Motivating Taiwan to Better Secure Its Own Future

    Russia's invasion of Ukraine is probably motivating Taiwan to better secure its own future versus China. But many of the challenges currently facing Taiwan, such as shortcomings in reservist training or lingering confusion over its military strategy, are difficult to fix, assuming they are even fixable.

    May 13, 2022

  • Ukrainian Marines take part in multinational Sea Breeze 2021 military exercises involving more than 30 countries near Kherson, Ukraine, July 2, 2021.

    Multimedia

    Armed Resistance in Ukraine

    RAND senior political scientist Stephen J. Flanagan discusses the concept of a state-organized national resistance movement in Ukraine.

    Mar 29, 2022

  • Ukrainian service members at a check point after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, February 27, 2022, photo by Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Kind of Resistance Can Ukraine Mount?

    Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered general mobilization, and Ukrainians are already engaging in irregular warfare and preparing for a prolonged resistance. What might a comprehensive Ukrainian resistance entail? What is the potential effectiveness, and what are the risks? What support could the international community provide?

    Feb 28, 2022

  • The Baltic Way demonstration on the Riga-Bauska highway, near Kekava, Latvia, August 23, 1989, photo by Uldis Pinka/CC-BY-SA

    Report

    Civilian Resilience in the Baltic States

    Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have a history of resistance to foreign occupation. If the countries were occupied today, civilians could play a powerful role in their defense. They could impose costs on the occupier, deny consolidation, reduce capacity for repression, secure allied support, and expand popular support.

    Nov 1, 2021

  • People load a State Emergency Service boat with food for a community stranded after severe flooding, in western Sydney, Australia, March 24, 2021, photo by Loren Elliott/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Definition of Mobilisation

    In Australia, the prevailing view of mobilisation is that it is an activity associated with going to war. But it should also include preparing for, and where possible, preventing a range of potential hazards, as well as supporting subsequent recovery efforts.

    Oct 21, 2021

  • Members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces' infantry unit march during the annual SDF ceremony at Asaka Base, Japan, October 23, 2016, photo by Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japanese Public Needs to Know SDF to Appreciate It

    Although Japan does not call the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) a military, externally it is widely respected as a modern armed force fielding advanced defense capabilities. Given the threats facing Japan, it may benefit the Japanese public to better understand the value of the SDF as an armed force and the military cooperation that takes place with the United States.

    Feb 19, 2021

  • Soldiers from the Norwegian Army prepare their tank during a military drill in Setermoen, Norway, October 30, 2019, photo by Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Norway's Allies View Its Defense Challenges and Opportunities

    Norway's Ministry of Defence will shortly publish its next Long Term Plan, which outlines how the Armed Forces, in tandem with other elements of government and society, can best address the threats to Norway. Other countries can learn from how Norway chooses to tackle emerging challenges, and can benefit from its lessons learned.

    Apr 16, 2020

  • A Norwegian Army Leopard 2A4 main battle tank during the NATO exercise Trident Juncture in Norway, 2018, photo by Ole-Sverre Haugli/Norwegian Armed Forces

    Report

    Enhancing Security on NATO's Northern Flank: Options for Norway

    Norway supports deterrence, crisis management, and security in the High North—which includes the Scandinavian territories and northern Russia. What regional insights can other NATO allies provide to help Norway in its security role?

    Mar 25, 2020

  • Japanese destroyer Inazuma test firing its 76-millimetre cannon in the Indian Ocean, September 27, 2018. Picture taken September 27, 2018

    Commentary

    Japan's Invisible Hand

    Shinzo Abe has cemented his position as Japan's prime minister for the next three years. Now he is expected to make a concerted push for revising the Constitution, which has not been amended since 1947. But the Japanese public is not convinced of the need to revise the Constitution, making his efforts likely to fail.

    Oct 10, 2018

  • Estonia's Defence League volunteer soldiers attend training drill near Rabasaare, Estonia, September 12, 2015

    Commentary

    Unconventional Options for the Defense of the Baltic States

    Unconventional options from the Swiss defense strategy during the Cold War could benefit Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These include training and equipping local defense units and preparing transportation infrastructure for demolition to prevent an invasion.

    Feb 5, 2016

  • French soldiers patrol a Jewish neighborhood near a religious school and a synagogue as part of the highest level of 'Vigipirate' security plan

    Commentary

    Vive France's Defense of Its Jewish Citizens

    France is not the problem when it comes to defending Jewish lives and Jewish rights. With a few exceptions, the French state and nation have been stalwart on these issues, if only because the French government has understood that those who strike at Jews usually are striking at values dear to France.

    Feb 13, 2015

  • a woman talking to Boston police near site of Marathon bombings

    Commentary

    Crowd-sourcing Our Security

    Involvement can transform members of the public from helpless bystanders into active participants in their own defense, thereby reducing fear and alarm, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 13, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Global Dimensions of Public Health Preparedness and Implications for US Action

    This study suggests four timely US actions to address today's competing realities of globalization and economic austerity: raise awareness among clinicians and local health departments; capture and share exemplary disaster management practices across countries; ensure that US global health investments are effective, efficient, and sustainable; and think globally while acting locally to enhance US health security.

    Jun 1, 2012

  • Emergency services personnel inspect the site where part of a five-story building collapsed after a reported explosion in New York

    Journal Article

    The Role of Law in Public Health Preparedness: Opportunities and Challenges

    Most local public health officials rely on their perceptions of the legal environment in which they operate, but those perceptions often do not match the actual laws enacted.

    Apr 1, 2012