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RAND conducts a broad array of national security research for the U.S. Department of Defense and allied ministries of defense. RAND's four U.S. federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) explore topics from acquisition and technology to personnel and readiness.

  • U.S. Army Soldiers provide security during a mission in Yarmouk, Iraq, July 2007, photo by Spc. Elisha Dawkins/U.S. Army

    Report

    Armies Have a Role to Play in Nation Building

    Oct 24, 2017

    Events in Iraq and Mali have raised questions about the value of Security Force Assistance and U.S. capacity to strengthen client states' militaries in the face of insurgencies or other threats. History shows that SFA programs could be improved if they focused more on ideology and how an army complements a host country's larger nation-building efforts.

  • Knights Brigade Soldiers take the oath of reenlistment in the courtyard of the Burg Lichtenberg castle in Kusel, Germany, April 1, 2016, photo by 1st Lt. Hannah Morgan/U.S. Army

    Report

    Promising Approaches to Army Institutional Change

    Dec 5, 2017

    The U.S. Army is facing many challenges. These include behavioral health issues, misconduct, and adjustment to changing demographics. Long-term solutions will require changes in Army culture and climate. Such changes are difficult, but promising strategies do exist.

Explore National Security

  • MQ-9 Reaper on Patrol

    Commentary

    Terrorrism Before and During the War on Terror: A Look at the Numbers

    While terror-related headlines tend to imply the worst, the truth is much more prosaic. Terrorism since 9/11 is down—and dramatically so—in countries not suffering from civil wars and insurgencies.

    Dec 12, 2017

  • The border fence between United States and Mexico

    Commentary

    The Big Border Security Question

    What does a secure U.S.-Mexico border look like? And what kind of security measures are needed? Despite investing billions of dollars since 9/11, it's still a struggle to measure how effective U.S. border security operations are.

    Dec 9, 2017

  • U.S. and United Arab Emirate forces training together during an exercise at Udairi Range, Kuwait, Septempber 28, 2016

    Report

    U.S. Strategic Interests in the Middle East and Implications for the Army

    The U.S. Army should be prepared for its involvement in the Middle East and North Africa to extend into the future. Having borne the brunt of previous interventions there, the Army is well positioned to help policymakers understand both the utility and the limitations of U.S. military power in the region.

    Dec 7, 2017

  • U.S. Army soldiers leave a Black Hawk helicopter during a Suwalki gap defence exercise in Mikyciai, Lithuania, June 17, 2017

    Report

    Rethinking the U.S. Approach to Force Planning

    The force planning standard used since the end of the Cold War is ill-suited for today's strategic circumstances. Force planning today should focus on modernizing the capabilities and posture of U.S. forces to better enable them to deter and defeat aggression by China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Salafist-jihadi groups worldwide.

    Dec 7, 2017

  • Journal Article

    The Implications of Iran's Expanding Shi'a Foreign Fighter Network

    Well-trained and resourced, Iranian-directed Shi'a foreign fighters pose a significant potential threat to U.S. interests. The more robust this network grows, the more opportunities it will have to expand abroad.

    Dec 7, 2017

  • A law enforcement bomb technician walks away after preparing the controlled detonation of a suspicious object during a search for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, in Watertown, Massachusetts, April 19, 2013

    Commentary

    The Origins of America's Jihadists

    American jihadists are made in the United States, not imported. Homegrown terrorists have accounted for most of the jihadist activity in the U.S. since 9/11, with most of those who carried out or plotted terrorist attacks either born in the U.S. or arriving as children.

    Dec 4, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a briefing for reporters at the end of the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017

    Commentary

    Kremlin Untruths Boomerang

    The main sources of strain in Moscow's ties with the West are actions, such as Russia's aggression in Ukraine. But untruths add fuel to the fire and can provoke stronger Western reactions and impede the search for solutions.

    Dec 4, 2017

  • Militant Islamist fighters waving flags, travel in vehicles as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014

    Commentary

    All for One and One for All: Toward a Coordinated EU Approach on Returnees

    To combat the threat posed by returning fighters, EU intelligence and police agencies will need to coordinate to find potential terrorists before they are able to conduct attacks in Europe. The return of dangerous foreign fighters to European soil should be motivation enough for an overarching review of each country’s vulnerabilities.

    Nov 28, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang attend a news conference in Hanoi, November 12, 2017

    Commentary

    U.S. Striking Just the Right Balance with Vietnam in South China Sea

    The Trump administration has seized upon positive momentum from the Obama administration to elevate U.S.-Vietnam defense cooperation to new heights.

    Nov 23, 2017

  • Report

    The U.S.-Japan Alliance and Deterring Gray Zone Coercion in the Maritime, Cyber, and Space Domains

    China is trying to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific through gray zone coercion -- actions below the threshold that would trigger a military response. This report focuses on deterring such coercion in the maritime, cyber, and space domains.

    Nov 20, 2017

  • Protective barriers are placed along a bike path near a memorial for the victims of the October 31 attack in New York City, November 3, 2017

    Commentary

    America Is Great at Fighting Terrorism, but Terror Is Alive and Well

    When terrorists adopt a strategy of pure terror, it's hard to prevent attacks like those in Nice, Columbus, London, Barcelona, or New York. Instead, strategies are needed to counter terrorism's ultimate aim—to instill fear—and to remove some of the incentives of potential attackers.

    Nov 16, 2017

  • Computer hacker with magnifying glass

    Commentary

    It's Time for the International Community to Get Serious About Vulnerability Equities

    Multiple countries around the world are likely discovering, retaining and exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities without a process to properly consider the trade-offs. This needs to change. It’s time for the international community to get serious about vulnerability equities.

    Nov 15, 2017

  • Iran's army servicemen with the national flag attend the opening ceremony of the airborne platoon competition, part of the International Army Games 2017, in Guangshui, Hubei province, China, July 30, 2017

    Commentary

    Saudi Shakeup Gives the U.S. an Opening with Iran

    If Saudi Arabia forces a showdown with Iran, the U.S. will find itself in the middle of it. Washington and Tehran need to come to an understanding so as not to further inflame the region. Demonizing Iran for all the ills of the Middle East is counterproductive and will lead to further escalation.

    Nov 13, 2017

  • Polish Army PT-91 tank is seen during Silver Arrow 2017, the multinational military drills involving eleven NATO member countries in Adazi, Latvia October 29, 2017

    Commentary

    How NATO Could Accidentally Trigger a War with Russia

    An increased NATO presence in the Baltics could motivate Russia for an invasion. U.S. and NATO deployments in the region should take seriously Russian beliefs about NATO capabilities in planning future deployments, and by pursuing transparency and negotiation in future deployments in the Baltic region.

    Nov 13, 2017

  • Spanish Army soldiers run during the Silver Arrow 2017, the multinational military drills involving eleven NATO member countries in Adazi, Latvia October 29, 2017

    Commentary

    Deterring the Unthinkable: NATO's Role Along the Eastern Flank

    As NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels to set the stage for the 2018 NATO summit, key issues will include defense burden-sharing and NATO’s role to the south in counterterrorism and refugee management. But strengthening deterrence to the East must remain the top priority for the alliance.

    Nov 7, 2017

  • French soldiers set up camp while waiting for the delivery of a replacement piece for a vehicle in Inat, Mali, May 27, 2016

    Commentary

    What Is the Sahel G5 Force and Why Should the U.S. Support It?

    The French Joint Force G-5 Sahel plan offers the possibility of strengthening the Sahel nations' efforts to combat terrorism. Supporting the French initiative is a worthy undertaking, provided, of course, that everyone understands what it is and is not.

    Nov 6, 2017

  • Children run along a damaged street as they celebrate the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha at a rebel-held area in Deraa, Syria, September 1, 2017

    Commentary

    How to Help Syrians — Without Helping Assad

    The U.S. and others have a major interest in ending the Syrian civil war, helping the millions of displaced Syrians, and preventing the re-emergence of the Islamic State. But they are naturally reluctant to assist rebuilding a country run by Assad and supported by Russia and Iran. What are their options?

    Nov 3, 2017

  • Syrian Democratic Forces fighters ride atop of military vehicle as they celebrate victory in Raqqa, Syria, October 17, 2017

    Commentary

    Why the Fall of the 'Caliphate' in Syria Will Not Ease Western Security Concerns

    A Syria and Iraq free of ISIS do not, unfortunately, free the West from the ISIS threat. Instead, ISIS is likely to either disperse, with its followers prepared to carry out a range of further attacks, or attempt to regroup in the fragile states of Africa.

    Nov 3, 2017

  • Police investigate a pickup truck used in an attack on the West Side Highway in lower Manhattan in New York City, November 1, 2017

    Commentary

    New York Terror Attack: Can Vehicle Attacks Be Prevented?

    The recent vehicle attack in Manhattan was the deadliest terror attack on New York since 9/11. Preventing every attack is unrealistic, but with increased vigilance, cooperation with law enforcement, and intelligence sharing, citizens can help mitigate the threat of terrorism.

    Nov 1, 2017

  • Police look toward the scene of a pickup truck attack on West Side Highway in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31 2017

    Commentary

    Terrorism Fatigue

    By continually staking claim to big and small terrorist attacks, regardless of target selection or casualty count, ISIS has attempted to instill a sense of omnipresent and unpredictable danger. And in the process, terrorism fatigue may be setting in around the world.

    Nov 1, 2017