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 map depicting Russian influence over Europe

    Report

    How to Counter Russia's Hostile Measures in Europe

    Jan 28, 2019

    Russia has a range of tools and methods short of conventional war that it can use to achieve its goals in Europe. There is no way to predict what Russia will do, but it's possible to analyze its motives and opportunities, the means it might employ, and how the United States should respond.

  • 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.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • U.S. President Donald Trump walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore, June, 2019

    Commentary

    Engagement with North Korea: Small Steps May Matter More Than Big Ones

    The first summit between United States president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in June, 2018, produced some small, quick, and positive gains. From those hopeful beginnings, however, the two countries soon reached a stalemate. What can be expected from the second summit in February, 2019?

    Feb 21, 2019

  • Report

    Science-Based Scenario Design: A Proposed Method to Support Political-Strategic Analysis

    How can nonmilitary factors be used in defense planning? The authors distinguish between political-strategic and military decisions and discuss recent findings regarding crisis and war variables to create science-based structured scenarios.

    Feb 18, 2019

  • Report

    Assessing Retention and Special and Incentive Pays for Army and Navy Commissioned Officers in the Special Operations Forces

    This report focuses on the effectiveness of monetary incentives, known as special and incentive pays, for U.S. Special Operations Forces commissioned officer retention.

    Feb 18, 2019

  • World map with exclamation points for epicenters for terrorist attack

    Commentary

    A New Framework for Evaluating Counter Violent Extremism Projects

    Gathering evidence in the area of counter violent extremism (CVE) is vital, given the increasing role for CVE interventions in the political and security environment. Evaluations of these interventions can play a role in growing this knowledge, by helping the CVE field itself to develop.

    Feb 15, 2019

  • UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping as King Harald of Norway looks on during a visit to China, October 16, 2018, photo by NTB Scanpix/Heiko Junge via Reuters

    Commentary

    The U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Is an Opportunity for China

    The U.S. withdrawal from Syria could allow Beijing to further assert its role as a key international partner in Syria and, by extension, further its interests in the Middle East. The extent of Sino-Syrian cooperation remains ambiguous but it has reportedly deepened, with China supplying intelligence personnel, strategic advisors, and special forces.

    Feb 15, 2019

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a business forum, Delovaya Rossiya, in Moscow, February 6, 2019

    Commentary

    Russia Chooses Paupers as Partners, with Questionable Benefit

    By leveraging the efficiencies of globalization and cultivating ties with prosperous partners, Russia could increase its economic potential and improve living standards for its people. And by engaging more positively with the world, it could gain influence in the forums that matter, such as the G20 and multilateral institutions.

    Feb 14, 2019

  • News Release

    Terrorism Prevention Programs Need Strengthening If They Are to Be Effective

    National capabilities for terrorism prevention, which refers to options other than traditional law-enforcement action to respond to the risk of individual radicalization to violence, are relatively limited. Most rely on local or non-government efforts, and only a subset receive federal support.

    Feb 14, 2019

  • A woman speaking in a community meeting, photo by Hero Images/Getty Images

    Research Brief

    How to Strengthen Terrorism Prevention Efforts

    Shortfalls in national terrorism prevention efforts have come not only from limited programmatic focus and resource investment, but also from critics seeking to constrain or halt such efforts. The most effective path for the U.S. government would be to support state, local, nongovernmental, and private terrorism prevention efforts rather than building capabilities itself.

    Feb 14, 2019

  • Report

    Practical Terrorism Prevention: Executive Summary

    Researchers examined past U.S. countering violent extremism and terrorism prevention efforts and explored options to strengthen them. This document summarizes findings from the main report.

    Feb 14, 2019

  • Report

    Practical Terrorism Prevention: Reexamining U.S. National Approaches to Addressing the Threat of Ideologically Motivated Violence

    Researchers examined past U.S. countering violent extremism and terrorism prevention efforts and explored options to strengthen them. They found that current capabilities are relatively limited and that future efforts must build trust to succeed.

    Feb 14, 2019

  • Donald Trump holds up a photo of a border wall design in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., January 11, 2019

    Commentary

    Terrorists on the Border and Government Secrecy

    Detailed information on how many would-be terrorists may have sought to cross the southern border is being withheld on the grounds that it is sensitive. The refusal of officials to offer a fuller explanation of the numbers illustrates how the continued expansion of secrecy in government is damaging the ability of the public to assess the risk and evaluate the response.

    Feb 13, 2019

  • Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev addresses the first meeting of the Madrid Peace Conference in Madrid, Spain, October 30, 1991

    Commentary

    The Warsaw Summit Is No Madrid

    The peace process begun in Madrid nearly 30 years ago showed promise, but ultimately stalled, and will need rethinking to adapt to today's Middle East. The world could use a worthy successor. The Warsaw summit probably isn't it.

    Feb 13, 2019

  • Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro meets with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, October 22, 2016, photo by Miraflores Palace/Handout/Reuters

    Commentary

    Hezbollah Is in Venezuela to Stay

    Whatever the benefits of replacing the current Venezuelan regime with Washington's preferred alternative, Juan Guaidó, there's reason to doubt that it would change the country's problematic relationship with Hezbollah. Hezbollah is well-entrenched in Venezuela, where it has established a vast infrastructure for its criminal activities.

    Feb 11, 2019

  • Work map with chess pieces with flags of Russia, China, and the United States

    Commentary

    The Need to Think More Clearly About 'Great-Power Competition'

    Today's world order is increasingly defined by competition between the United States and a host of major powers, especially China and Russia. Who is America's principal competitor and over what is it competing? What is America’s ultimate objective? And how will it prepare its economy and its society for infinite competition of an indefinite nature?

    Feb 11, 2019

  • Report

    Estimating Potential Savings in Department of Defense Activities

    There is a push to make the U.S. government run like the private sector. Alternatives to this approach that attempt to account for the complexity and uniqueness of the U.S. Department of Defense are presented in this report.

    Feb 11, 2019

  • Report

    Integrating Active and Reserve Component Staff Organizations: Improving the Chances of Success

    A RAND Corporation study undertook a literature review and analysis of several case studies to examine factors that could increase the likelihood of success in integrating active and reserve component military staff organizations.

    Feb 11, 2019

  • Man in a field looking at the horizon

    Commentary

    How Horizon Scanning Can Give the Military a Technological Edge

    Horizon scanning could promote innovative practices and innovation uptake, through the adoption of new ideas, equipment, and methods, with benefits that could positively affect the UK economy as a whole. But a wider mechanism for processing and assessing the selected developments would be needed.

    Feb 8, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Of Bombs and Bureaucrats: Internal Drivers of Nuclear Force Building in China and the United States

    This article examines the domestic influences on US and Chinese nuclear forces. While strategic factors largely drive each side's, underappreciated domestic and organizational factors also influence outcomes.

    Feb 8, 2019

  • U.S. Air Force 36th Contingency Response Group Airmen speak with India Air Force subject matter experts at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, July 23, 2018

    Commentary

    How the U.S. Is Thinking About the Quad

    The United States has been consistent in discussing the security objectives it seeks to promote through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. But U.S. interactions with other Quad partners have likely convinced Washington to repackage public presentation of the dialogue proceedings and manage its expectations of what the Quad can realistically achieve.

    Feb 7, 2019

  • China's President Xi Jinping (C) meets with Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, August 30, 2018

    Testimony

    The Consolidation of Political Power in China Under Xi Jinping

    China has experienced a striking consolidation of power under President Xi Jinping. Three trends have affected the People's Liberation Army and have implications for China's domestic security forces. What considerations should U.S. defense planners and officials account for and monitor?

    Feb 7, 2019