National Security and Terrorism

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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. 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.

  • A world map with digital infographics

    Report

    What Deters and Why

    Nov 20, 2018

    What must the United States do to deter potential aggressors from attacking allies or other countries in large-scale conventional conflicts? Managing an adversary's motives is the key first step.

  • Police officials stand on the sidewalk as cars drive on the road in front of the Pulse night club, following a shooting in Orlando, Florida, June 21, 2016

    Report

    Trends in the Draw of Americans to Foreign Terrorist Organizations from 9/11 to Today

    Dec 18, 2018

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been more successful than its predecessor organization, al Qaeda, in drawing Americans to its cause. Americans drawn to ISIL are more likely to be younger, less educated, Caucasian/white or African American/black, and to have been born in the United States.

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  • Report

    Operating Under a Continuing Resolution: A Limited Assessment of Effects on Defense Procurement Contract Awards

    As described in this report, the authors developed an empirical basis for exploring policy issues pertaining to Department of Defense operations under a continuing resolution at the start of a fiscal year, which has become the norm in recent years.

    Jan 21, 2019

  • Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gesture as they hold Hezbollah flags in Marjayoun, Lebanon, May 7, 2018

    Commentary

    Helping Lebanon Succeed Is More Than About Countering Iran

    As tensions increase on the Israeli-Lebanese border the possibility is growing that a confrontation with Iran may move from Syria to Lebanon. For the United States, turning its back on this small but strategically critical country and conflating U.S. interests in Lebanon solely with countering Iran could be short-sighted, and a missed opportunity at a time when the region has few.

    Jan 16, 2019

  • A U.S. flag is seen at a post in Deh Bala district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, after U.S. and Afghan forces cleared Islamic State fighters from the area, July 7, 2018

    Report

    Likely Effects of a Precipitous U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    Winning may not be an option in Afghanistan, but an early departure of U.S. forces without a peace settlement will mean choosing to lose. The result will be the weakening of deterrence and the value of American reassurance elsewhere, an increased terrorist threat, and the possibility of having to return there under worse conditions.

    Jan 16, 2019

  • Multimedia

    Accountability in Cyberspace: The Problem of Attribution

    Recently, several cyber incidents with geopolitical implications have received high-profile press coverage. Identifying the responsible party behind malicious cyber incidents is a necessary prerequisite for holding these actors accountable, but there are many challenges that accompany cyber attribution.

    Jan 14, 2019

  • News Release

    Middle Eastern Communities Can Resist Sectarianism

    Middle Eastern communities are generally resilient to the worst sectarian impulses and even communities that experience sectarian strife can recover from it. Indeed, at least at the local level, communities can resist the slide toward sectarianism and promote resilience and cross-sectarian cooperation.

    Jan 14, 2019

  • Beirut Madinati candidates and activists after announcing their list of candidates for the municipality elections in Beirut, Lebanon, April 22, 2016

    Report

    Countering Sectarianism in the Middle East

    Scholars and policymakers have sought to understand what drives sectarianism in the Middle East and its relationship to multiple conflicts. Far less attention has been focused on how communities inoculate themselves from sectarianism or recover from it.

    Jan 14, 2019

  • Beirut Madinati candidates and delegates cheer

    Research Brief

    Middle Eastern Communities Can Resist Sectarianism

    Sectarian violence in the Middle East has been destructive, but it is still the exception rather than the norm. Communities are generally resilient to the worst sectarian impulses. Lessons from Lebanon, Bahrain, Syria, and Iraq show that there are a range of actions that can curb sectarianism.

    Jan 14, 2019

  • Artificial eye looking through greenery

    Commentary

    Does the U.S. Face an AI Ethics Gap?

    The view that the United States is in an AI arms race suggests an AI ethics gap in which the United States faces a higher ethical hurdle to develop and deploy AI in military contexts than its adversaries. As a result of this gap, the United States could be at a competitive disadvantage against countries with fewer scruples about AI.

    Jan 11, 2019

  • Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, during the 2018 Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, August 13, 2018

    Commentary

    Explaining the Defense Intelligence Agency's (DIA) Critical Role in National Security

    Despite its varied roles and responsibilities, the DIA can be boiled down to just two core missions: intelligence analysis and intelligence collection. Having a better understanding of these core missions could help to properly frame the agency’s value to the intelligence, military, and policymaking communities.

    Jan 11, 2019

  • South Korean soldiers conduct a pass in review during a military parade to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the South Korean-U.S. alliance in Seoul, South Korea, October 1, 2013

    Tool

    North Korea's Expanding Nuclear Program Drives a Complex Set of Problems

    North Korean provocations and threats have created an unstable environment on the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. and its allies must attend to four interconnected problems. Failure to prepare will increase the chance of miscalculation and constrain options to reduce the likelihood or gravity of future conflicts.

    Jan 11, 2019

  • Syrian Democratic Forces and U.S. troops are seen during a patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria, November 4, 2018

    Commentary

    America's Absence Could Be Syria's New Nightmare

    President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria reverses his administration's recent policy of retaining them as long as Iranian troops stay. U.S. withdrawal from Syria would give Bashar al-Assad, Iran, and Russia freer rein to subdue opposition forces and Assad could feel emboldened to act with greater impunity and brutality.

    Jan 10, 2019

  • A soldier stands guard near a poster of Syria's President Bashar al Assad and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Rastan, Syria, June 6, 2018

    Commentary

    Confusion Over the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria

    Washington's strategy in Syria has been to impose costs on the Syrian government by diplomatic ostracism and economic sanctions. This punitive approach is morally satisfying and politically expedient, but as a practical matter it just helps perpetuate the conflict and sustain Assad's dependency on Iran.

    Jan 9, 2019

  • Aerial view of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

    Commentary

    Book Review: The Heart of War—Misadventures in the Pentagon

    Both Washington insiders and the general public may be inspired by Kathleen McCinnis's The Heart of War. The novel prompts readers to think more realistically about the Pentagon and its role in policymaking.

    Jan 8, 2019

  • Popular Mobilisation Forces fighters ride in a tank near the Iraqi-Syrian border in al-Qaim, Iraq, November 26, 2018

    Commentary

    Withdrawing from Syria Leaves a Vacuum That Iran Will Fill

    President Trump's decision to withdraw American troops from Syria may be unintentionally signaling that the United States is unwilling to compete in critical geopolitical hotspots. Such a message could embolden powerful states—including Iran—to expand their presence.

    Jan 8, 2019

  • Russia's Tu-160 bomber at the military air base Libertador in Palo Negro, Venezuela, September 11, 2008

    Commentary

    In Venezuela, a Potential U.S.-Russian Crisis?

    In December, two supersonic nuclear-capable Russian bombers visited Venezuela, the third such excursion for the warplanes since 2008. Might Moscow intend to pose a threat, perhaps even nuclear, to the Western Hemisphere? If so, how could Washington respond?

    Jan 8, 2019

  • Brian Michael Jenkins at the One Night with RAND event in Santa Monica, November 8, 2018

    Brochure

    Remarks by Brian Michael Jenkins at the One Night with RAND Event

    At an event commemorating his 50 years of service at RAND, Brian Michael Jenkins spoke about terrorism and the United States' response to it over the past several decades.

    Jan 8, 2019

  • Report

    A Wage Differential Approach to Managing Special and Incentive Pay

    The authors review special and incentive pays and the potential to convert some into a wage differential, finding pays with an incentive to select a longer military obligation more cost-effective and possibly more beneficial than a wage differential.

    Jan 7, 2019

  • Harold Brown, 14th U.S. Secretary of Defense

    News Release

    Harold Brown, Former U.S. Defense Secretary and Secretary of the Air Force, Dies at 91

    Harold Brown, a nuclear physicist and weapons designer who helped shape America's Cold War-era national security policy during a career that included terms as secretary of defense and secretary of the Air Force, died January 4, 2018.

    Jan 5, 2019

  • Report

    Design of Air Force Human Resource Management Governance Board Membership and Processes for Optimal Force Management: Preliminary Discussion and Recommendations

    The Air Force has employed two governance structures to oversee human resource development and human resource management. This Perspective reviews the two structures, with analysis of strengths and weaknesses informed by viewpoints of experts.

    Jan 4, 2019

  • Report

    Organizational Dynamics Between the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Manpower and Reserve Affairs (SAF/MR) and the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services (AF/A1)

    This Perspective offers recommendations on how the relationship between the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Manpower and Reserve Affairs and the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services might be further refined.

    Jan 4, 2019