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.

  • Fishing boats departing from Shenjiawan port in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province towards the East China Sea fishing grounds, September 17, 2012, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Report

    How the United States Can Compete in the Gray Zone

    Jun 27, 2019

    America is entering a period of intensifying strategic competition with Russia and China. U.S. officials expect this to play out below the threshold of armed conflict, in the gray zone between peace and war. What policy options does the United States have to respond to gray zone threats?

  • Armed fighters over a background of Syrian, Iraqi, and U.S. currencies and gold ingots, photos by zabelin, Cimmerian, Vitoria Holdings LLC, and johan10/Getty Images

    Report

    U.S. Efforts Are Essential to Counter an Islamic State Comeback

    Aug 8, 2019

    The Islamic State can no longer rely on local funding sources as it did when it controlled territory. But as an insurgency, its expenses are far lower. With revenue from criminal activities and the cash it hoarded, the group will survive as a clandestine terrorist movement. Counterfinance, intelligence, and possibly military action will be needed.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • Cortney Weinbaum at the Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security in Arlington, Virginia, October 24, 2018, photo by Grace Evans and Khorshied Samad/RAND Corporation

    Q&A

    Intel, Ethics, and Emerging Tech: Q&A with Cortney Weinbaum

    Cortney Weinbaum studies topics related to intelligence and cyber policy as a senior management scientist at RAND. In this interview, she discusses challenges facing the intelligence community, the risks of using AI as a solution, and ethics in scientific research.

    Aug 23, 2019

  • A young boy waves a black flag inscribed with Islamic verses at a rally of Tunisian Salafi Islamists in the central town of Kairouan, May 20, 2012, photo by Anis Mili/Reuters

    Report

    What Will Drive the Next Generation of Salafi-Jihadis?

    Continued economic stagnation and a high youth unemployment rate, exacerbated by the Muslim youth bulge, could lead to failed expectations and spur radicalization among disenchanted Gen Z Muslims. And this cohort's familiarity with the internet could foreshadow an adaptive, tech-savvy terrorist threat.

    Aug 22, 2019

  • Making a move during a unique wargame hosted by RAND with a group called Girl Security, photo by Dori Gordon Walker/RAND Corporation

    Essay

    A Wargame at RAND Puts Teen Girls in Command

    RAND analysts developed and hosted a wargame for young women to learn firsthand about national security. It's a lesson in strategy, in the hard realities behind news headlines, but also in agility and resilience. In that, it's not so far removed from the daily life of a teenage girl.

    Aug 20, 2019

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy stand guard in the Spratly Islands, known in China as the Nansha Islands, February 10, 2016

    Commentary

    Why Vanguard Bank and Why Now? Explaining Chinese Behavior in the South China Sea

    What can Vietnam do now to make Chinese assertiveness against it less likely going forward? Although deepening the U.S.-Vietnam defense partnership in the short-term may be contributing to trouble with China, closer cooperation in the long-run could serve to deter China. Enhancing cooperation with Vietnam's other defense partners—namely Australia, Japan, and India—could help to deter Beijing as well.

    Aug 19, 2019

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a working lunch at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday, June 28, 2019, photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan's Hormuz Dilemma

    Japan is a staunch U.S. ally in the Indo-Pacific. But any decision to support a coalition against Iran in the Middle East is likely to put Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a tough position.

    Aug 16, 2019

  • A member of Iran's Revolutionary guards sits in front of a picture of a soldier at a war exhibition to commemorate the anniversary of Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in southern Tehran, September 26, 2007, photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

    Commentary

    Syria Changed the Iranian Way of War

    To get a sense of the playbook that Tehran might consult in any future conflict with the United States, Washington should pay close attention to what the Iranians have learned in Syria.

    Aug 16, 2019

  • Research Brief

    Assessing the Use of Data Analytics in Department of Defense Acquisition

    This research brief addresses congressional concerns about the use of data analysis, measurement, and other evaluation-related methods in U.S. Department of Defense acquisition programs and decisionmaking.

    Aug 13, 2019

  • A licensed clinical social worker listens to her client during a therapy session at the Bay Pines Veterans Administration Healthcare Center in Bay Pines, Florida, October 29, 2015, photo by EJ Hersom/DoD News

    Research Brief

    How to Improve Mental Health Care for Veterans

    Veterans, especially those who deployed overseas, face elevated risks of mental health conditions. Those who have served since the September 11, 2001, attacks are particularly vulnerable. About one in five experiences mental health problems. Are veterans getting the high-quality care that they need?

    Aug 13, 2019

  • Report

    Assessing Department of Defense Use of Data Analytics and Enabling Data Management to Improve Acquisition Outcomes

    Congress asked about acquisition data analytics in the Department of Defense. This report identifies and measures capabilities and recent progress. Barriers to improvement include a culture against data sharing due to security and burden concerns.

    Aug 13, 2019

  • An Egyptian military vehicle on the highway in northern Sinai, Egypt, May 25, 2015, photo by Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

    Commentary

    Making Headway Against the Sinai Insurgency

    Since 2013 Egypt has been engaged in the Sinai peninsula against a deadly ISIS-affiliated insurgency. To make headway against militant groups on the peninsula, the Egyptian government could focus on providing services to its citizens there and repairing its relationship with them.

    Aug 12, 2019

  • Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (L) and U.S. President Ronald Reagan begin their mini-summit talks in Reykjavik, October 11, 1986, photo by Mal Langsdon/Reuters

    Commentary

    Reagan's Cold War Lessons for Handling Russia

    Rising public protests in Russia may be putting the Kremlin on the defensive at home. But Moscow is playing offense abroad, challenging the West more than at any time since Ronald Reagan's presidency. Reagan's strategy to counter the Kremlin back then offers insights that could help guide U.S. policy today.

    Aug 9, 2019

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, August 5, 2019, photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Iran's Cooperation with the Taliban Could Affect Talks on U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has acknowledged that his country has some level of cooperation with the Taliban. How did Iran's relationship with the Taliban come about? And how might it affect the future of U.S.-Taliban talks?

    Aug 9, 2019

  • Soldiers sit on an M60A3 tank for a group photograph after an anti-invasion drill to test readiness ahead of Lunar New Year, simulating enemy invasion and the safeguarding of the weapon systems in case of air raid, in Taichung, Taiwan, January 17, 2019, Photo by Tyrone Siu/Reuters

    Commentary

    Making Sense of U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

    Why does the U.S. sell arms to Taiwan? And what is the impact on the cross-Strait military balance? Taiwan's arms purchase reflects a continuing concern over Beijing's military intentions; a balancing of operational and political considerations; a commitment by the United States to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself; and an American refusal to “stand down” in the face of China's aggressive behavior and coercion of Indo-Pacific democracies.

    Aug 9, 2019

  • Indian security personnel stand guard along a deserted street during restrictions in Jammu, August 5, 2019, photo by Mukesh Gupta/Reuters

    Commentary

    Kashmir's Democracy—and the World's

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi just changed the status of the restive Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. This may be the most important event in an enormously volatile part of the world since the end of the last century, with repercussions that will extend far beyond Kashmir itself.

    Aug 8, 2019

  • Report

    Approaches to Strategic Sealift Readiness

    The authors examine the readiness of the strategic sealift fleet and its management. They determine that many factors can be improved to increase readiness and make recommendations toward that end.

    Aug 8, 2019

  • News Release

    Follow the Money: How the United States Can Counteract the Islamic State's Plans for a Comeback

    With the end of its territorial caliphate, the Islamic State will almost certainly attempt a comeback. Such efforts will require money. A new RAND report examines the group as an insurgency and a self-styled caliphate, with a focus on how the group managed its finances, drawing from the literature, the group's documents, and interviews with individuals who lived under the caliphate.

    Aug 8, 2019

  • Sailors stand guard near petrol boats at the Cambodian Ream Naval Base in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, July 26, 2019, photo by Pring Samrang/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Ramifications of China's Reported Naval Base in Cambodia

    China and Cambodia have reportedly signed a secret agreement allowing the Chinese navy to use a military facility near Ream, along Cambodia's southern coast, though both countries deny the reports. The installation of a Chinese military facility in Cambodia, if realized, would further complicate an already sensitive and tense situation in the region.

    Aug 7, 2019

  • View of the U.S. Capitol Building, photo by SurangaWeeratunga/AdobeStock

    Blog

    RAND's Summer Reading List for Congress

    For busy staff, August's respite from back-to-back meetings, hearing preparation, and late votes is hard-earned. The summer recess also provides an opportunity to get ahead of issues that will resurface in the fall. To that end, we have compiled recent RAND research on topics likely to top the congressional agenda come September.

    Aug 5, 2019

  • Diagram of an insider threat under a magnifying glass, image by Andrea Danti/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Continuous Evaluation Approaches for Insider Threats

    Insiders could cause harm to the United States, maliciously or unintentionally. This threat isn't new, but it's likely to increase in the near term. Continuous evaluation approaches to detecting insider threats could be more effective and less costly than the current security clearance system.

    Aug 5, 2019