National Defense


RAND conducts a broad array of national security research for the U.S. Department of Defense and allied ministries of defense. Our federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) explore threat assessment, military acquisition, technology, recruitment and personnel management, counterinsurgency, intelligence, and readiness. RAND is a world leader in terrorism research. Studies address such topics as terrorism financing and strategies to undermine violent extremism.

  • Mosul in March 2016, under Islamic State control, when nighttime lighting had fallen by 55 percent compared to its pre-ISIS levels in January 2014, image by NOAA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)


    What Life Under ISIS Looked Like from Space

    Jan 9, 2018

    Satellite images show how ISIS attempted to govern in Iraq and Syria, the economic damage the group left behind, and what it will take to rebuild.

  • Composite of Chinese flag and abstract globalization concept, images by Piotr Krzeslak and liuzishan/Getty Images


    How China Seeks to Wage Modern Warfare

    Feb 1, 2018

    The People's Liberation Army's approach to training, organizing, and equipping for modern warfare over the past two decades has been influenced by systems thinking. It now characterizes modern warfare as a confrontation between opposing operational systems rather than merely opposing armies.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with co-chairs of his campaign office at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 19, 2018


    Putin Can Learn from Gorbachev on How to Gain from Future US Talks

    Vladimir Putin has won a flawed election to a fourth term as Russia's president, and Donald Trump has suggested the two will likely meet soon. For the Kremlin leader, however, a summit may draw shortcomings into sharper relief. If the two presidents meet, several key issues will await them.

    Mar 22, 2018

  • Dissertation

    Using the National Training Center Instrumentation System to Aid Simulation-Based Acquisition

    This dissertation uses the National Training Center instrumentation system to aid simulation-based acquisition.

    Mar 22, 2018

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviews the honor guard before a meeting with Japan Self-Defense Force's senior members at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, September 11, 2017


    Revising Japan's Peace Constitution: Much Ado About Nothing

    Despite Abe’s legislative majority, it is unclear whether he has enough political capital to convince the public of the need for a constitutional revision on the Self-Defense Force. Japan’s security policies are heavily constrained by legal and normative constraints and Abe’s plan would likely do little more than codify the status quo.

    Mar 21, 2018

  • Open glass jar with cannabis inside

    Journal Article

    Use of Protective Behavioral Strategies Among Young Adult Veteran Marijuana Users

    Taking periodic breaks from marijuana use or avoiding using marijuana before work or school may be important protective strategies for young veterans who choose to use marijuana to cope with symptoms of PTSD.

    Mar 20, 2018

  • Emergency services staff work next to a children's play area near the bench where former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned in Salisbury, UK, March 13, 2018


    Russian Nerve Agent from Skripal Attack a Deadly Game-Changer

    The use of Novichok in last week's attack against Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia demands global condemnation and an insistence that Russia account for how the nerve agent came to be used at all, much less on foreign soil.

    Mar 19, 2018

  • People walk next to an election campaign poster of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Stavropol, Russia, March 14, 2018


    Putin's Boasting About Nuclear Weapons Won't Help Him in the Russian Election

    In a March 1 address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin evoked Soviet-era exaggeration, proclaiming barely feasible economic and social goals and boasting of nuclear arms that are unlikely to change the strategic balance. Continued exaggeration could sap public confidence in the legitimacy of Russia's ruling system and leaders.

    Mar 15, 2018

  • Graphic of digital integrated network technology


    A Close Look at Data Thieves

    What do cyber attackers do with the data they steal? And how do they monetize it? Grouping hackers by their goals, motivations, and capabilities can shed light on these questions.

    Mar 15, 2018

  • Natalie Crawford


    Natalie Crawford: Distinguished Analyst of Air Force Programs and Cherished Mentor

    Natalie Crawford is a senior fellow at RAND, a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and president of the RAND Alumni Association. She holds the distinguished chair in air and space policy, a donor-funded position that allows her to conduct independent research beyond the scope of client projects and to mentor the next generation of policy researchers.

    Mar 13, 2018

  • A display featuring missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran, September 27, 2017


    Can Europe Save the Iran Nuclear Deal?

    In mid-January, President Trump threatened to withdraw from the Iran agreement if Europe does not “fix” it within four months. There are viable steps Europe could take to address Trump's concerns about the deal—on missile development, inspections, and sunset clauses. But if the United States withdraws, Europe could still work with other international powers to keep the deal alive.

    Mar 12, 2018

  • The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Louisiana transits the Hood Canal as it returns to its homeport following a strategic deterrent patrol


    Location, Location, Location: Evaluating Risks to Submarines from Low-Yield Warhead and Submarine Missile Launch Detection

    Experts can argue that a low-yield SLBM might not be worth deploying as it would put U.S. submarines at unacceptable risk. But the costs to adversaries to develop the capability to target U.S. submarines with nuclear weapons are substantial. In contrast, the costs to the United States are low, requiring only modification to an existing warhead.

    Mar 12, 2018

  • A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018


    Our Reliance on Space Tech Means We Should Prepare for the Worst

    Space-enabled connectivity, technology, and services support a diverse array of political, military, and economic activities, many of which modern life on Earth relies upon and which the public often takes for granted. How prepared is global society to deal with the growing reliance on this technology and to mitigate associated risks?

    Mar 12, 2018

  • U.S. Army officers on foot in Alaska


    Capping Retired Pay for Senior Field Grade Officers

    Mid-grade U.S. Army officers who began their careers as enlisted personnel could potentially retire with more years of service than high-grade officers. What would be the effect of capping retired pay for mid-grade military personnel so that only those in the highest grades and with the most years of service would receive the highest retired pay?

    Mar 12, 2018

  • The flag outside the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands


    The Problem of Prosecuting International Jihadists

    The International Criminal Court may be the most ideal institution to try accused terrorists. The court would take into account the legal status of terrorists, the nationalities of their victims, and the location of the crimes — while upholding the core values of Western democracies.

    Mar 9, 2018

  • Report

    Getting Out from "In-Between": Perspectives on the Regional Order in Post-Soviet Europe and Eurasia

    The perspectives collected in these conference proceedings explore alternatives to the current approaches to the regional order for the states "in between" the West and Russia -- Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

    Mar 8, 2018

  • Margaret Mead between 1930 and 1950


    Studying Soviets, Not Sex: Margaret Mead's Research at RAND

    Anthropologist Margaret Mead studied Russian culture and attitudes toward authority while at RAND from 1948 to 1950. To accomplish what she called “culture cracking,” Mead looked to Russian emigres, books, journals, archives, and films since the Soviet Union was inaccessible.

    Mar 7, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia March 1, 2018


    Could Putin's Speech Signal the Erosion of Nuclear Nonproliferation?

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has linked the development of new nuclear weapons capabilities to the United States' refusal to collaborate on arms control. Perhaps before Russia goes down this path, another attempt at dialogue would be beneficial as both nations have expressed a shared interest in limiting nuclear proliferation.

    Mar 7, 2018

  • Report

    Strategic Warning on NATO's Eastern Flank: Pitfalls, Prospects, and Limits

    Russian military modernization raises concerns about the Intelligence Community's (IC's) ability to warn of Russian aggression, particularly on NATO's eastern flank. Using themes from past events, the report makes recommendations to improve warning.

    Mar 7, 2018

  • U.S. Army soldiers in an exercise on Udari Range Complex near Camp Buehring, Kuwait, that better prepares them to certify for future deployments, November 2017


    How Does Deployment Experience Compare Across the Services?

    Deployments are a key aspect of U.S. military service. Since 9/11, 2.77 million service members have served on 5.4 million deployments. Accrued time deployed is a relevant metric for measuring military experience, but also for measuring service member and family well-being.

    Mar 6, 2018

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: March-April 2018

    This issue features a Q&A with Michael Rich, Soledad O'Brien, and Francis Fukuyama on the perils of truth decay, and a story on the trend toward unretirement among U.S. workers. The Voices column features Gulrez Shah Azhar on environmental refugees.

    Mar 5, 2018

  • Airman Leadership School students participate in a drill exercise


    How to Increase Gender Integration in Air Force Basic Training

    Now that all positions in the Air Force are open to women, USAF leadership is looking for ways to better integrate them during basic training. There are five options that could increase gender-integrated training, but the best solution will depend on USAF priorities.

    Mar 5, 2018