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 mourner writes a message on a makeshift memorial a day after a van struck multiple people along a major intersection in north Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 24, 2018

    Commentary

    The Continuing Plague of Vehicle Attacks: What Can Be Done?

    Apr 26, 2018

    Attacks using vehicles like the one in Toronto this week are difficult to defend against, but that doesn't mean that law enforcement and local security forces can't make progress. There are four crucial elements to consider when thinking about mitigating the effects of ramming attacks.

  • A mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle was used to extract people day and night from flooded areas in Florence County, North Carolina

    Report

    DoD's Excess Property Program Works, but Perceptions About Militarized Police Persist

    May 23, 2018

    The Department of Defense provides excess equipment—everything from desks to rifles to airplanes—at little or no cost to law enforcement agencies across America. This program is efficient and effective, but there are perceptions that it contributes to the militarization of police.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, February 11, 2018

    Commentary

    Israel Prepares to Take on Iran and Hezbollah in Syria

    Clashes between Israeli, Iranian, and Syrian forces have injected new volatility into the Middle East. This increases the likelihood of miscalculation and escalatory military action across the region.

    Feb 19, 2018

  • Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) members hold an Islamic State flag, which they pulled down, during the war between Iraqi army and PMF against Islamic State militants in Tal Afar, Iraq, August 27, 2017

    Commentary

    Expanding the ISIS Brand

    Since its founding, the Islamic State has consistently expanded and contracted in order to achieve its objectives. To discern how ISIS might continue to expand, it makes sense to trace Al Qaeda's trajectory, which followed a similar pattern in the 2000s.

    Feb 19, 2018

  • Residents who returned from evacuation centers walk past a bullet-ridden house believed to have been rented by pro-Islamic State militant group leaders before their attack on the region, in Basak Malutlut district in Marawi City, Philippines, October 29, 2017

    Commentary

    Where Will ISIS Seek to Establish Its Next Safe Haven?

    Many of ISIS's surviving fighters will seek out new battlefields to continue waging jihad. By coordinating with its allies around the globe, the U.S. could work to help alleviate the conditions that lead states to fail, making them less appealing as sanctuaries where terrorists can rest, rearm, and recuperate.

    Feb 19, 2018

  • Flowers and pictures of victims of the Islamic State's assault on Istanbul's Reina nightclub are placed near its entrance in Istanbul, Turkey, January 17, 2017

    Commentary

    Erdogan's Fatal Blind Spot

    Erdogan's tolerance of ISIS fighters in Turkey amounts to tacit approval. The danger posed by ISIS using Turkey as a staging ground could become more formidable than the threat currently posed by Kurdish terrorism. Tolerating ISIS to fight the Kurds is therefore a dangerous and myopic policy.

    Feb 16, 2018

  • The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay after three months at sea

    Commentary

    Discrimination Details Matter: Clarifying an Argument About Low-Yield Nuclear Warheads

    Nuclear forces and nuclear strategy are complex and the facts surrounding them are often shrouded in classification. But if the United States were to deploy a low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead in the future, an adversary would face the same problems as it does today in knowing what the missile contains

    Feb 16, 2018

  • A briefer holds a briefing book prior to the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Outer Oval Office, March 10, 2009

    Commentary

    Presidential Intelligence Briefings: The Process Is Working. But Is Trump Listening?

    President Trump receives intelligence briefings on a fairly regular basis and he appears engaged in discussions with senior staff and the intelligence community about content. Ideally, this process is informing his national security decisionmaking.

    Feb 15, 2018

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army get ready for the military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the army at Zhurihe military training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, July 30, 2017

    Testimony

    U.S. Responses to PLA Modernization

    In responding to the PLA's modernization, U.S. decisionmakers should consider two key facts. First, China recognizes a major war with America would likely destroy its national development objectives. Second, most of the PLA's modernization corresponds to capabilities the United States has already attained.

    Feb 15, 2018

  • Soldiers carry a PLA flag and Chinese national flags before the military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the foundation of China's PLA at Zhurihe military base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, July 30, 2017

    Testimony

    Addressing PLA Rocket Force Modernization

    China's growing missile capabilities could pose serious challenges for the United States and its allies. To protect its regional security interests, the United States should continue to monitor the PLA's modernization and adapt its own deterrence capabilities.

    Feb 15, 2018

  • An AH-64 Apache attack helicopter takes off near soldiers participating in a training exercise at Grafenwoehr, Germany, November 18, 2017

    Report

    How Does U.S. Military Presence Affect Conflict?

    A large U.S. regional troop presence may reduce the likelihood of interstate conflict. But it doesn't appear to reduce the risk of intrastate conflict. And there's an important trade-off: U.S. military presence may increase interstate militarized activities short of war.

    Feb 15, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with scientists, representing the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Novosibirsk, Russia February 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Free Lunches for Adversaries

    When leaders take actions that are unpopular with wide audiences, propagandists have it easy. While Western leaders should not make propaganda potential the primary factor when weighing policy decisions, neither should they wholly disregard the opportunities that unpopular policies will offer adversaries.

    Feb 13, 2018

  • A Chinese military band conductor prepares to perform before the opening ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 5, 2007

    Commentary

    China Has Big Plans to Win the Next War It Fights

    The People's Liberation Army (PLA) views modern conflict as a confrontation between opposing systems. This systems-thinking has wide ranging implications for how the PLA conceptualizes warfare in the twenty-first century.

    Feb 12, 2018

  • German troops cross the Neris River during the 2017 Iron Wolf exercise in Stasenai, Lithuania, June 20, 2017

    Commentary

    A 'Glass Half-Full': Next Steps for Enhancing Deterrence on NATO's Eastern Flank

    The United States and key allies have taken steps toward redressing the imbalance in military power between NATO and Russia in Northeastern Europe. But NATO's defense planners must be clear-eyed about what remains to be done.

    Feb 12, 2018

  • Workers repair a bridge in Mosul, Iraq, January 28, 2018

    Commentary

    If We Don't Get the Peace Right, Iraq Will Slide Back into the Morass

    Actions taken now by the United States, the Iraqi government, and private parties could determine the war-torn country's future. The message the Sunnis receive in these next six months will determine whether Iraq is on the path to stability.

    Feb 12, 2018

  • Autonomous vehicles on a highway

    Commentary

    Ensuring Cybersecurity Is Vital for a Driverless Future

    High-profile accidents involving autonomous vehicles (AVs) have led to recent discussions about the physical safety of people. However, it could be argued that consumers and manufacturers should be equally, if not more, concerned about the potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities in AVs.

    Feb 12, 2018

  • North Korean cheerleaders await the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 9, 2018

    Commentary

    Countering North Korea's Political Warfare

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has outmaneuvered South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the month leading up to the Olympics. This has dangerous consequences for South Korea's security, democracy, and its alliance with the United States.

    Feb 11, 2018

  • Russian trucks seen on the road heading to Deir al-Zor in Kabakeb near Deir al-Zor, Syria September 21, 2017

    Commentary

    Russia Is Not a Viable Counterterrorism Partner for the United States

    Russia is America's adversary and its actions, particularly attempts to fracture NATO, do not align with larger U.S. security goals. Even where there are areas in which the two countries could work together to mutual benefit, any cooperation should be judicious, measured and treated with the requisite degree of skepticism.

    Feb 9, 2018

  • Illustration of Mental Gears Turning and U.S. Flag

    Report

    Career Development for the Department of Defense Security Cooperation Workforce

    This study informs the development of career models for the Department of Defense security cooperation workforce. It assesses potential requirements for competencies and experience and identifies potential job families within the workforce.

    Feb 8, 2018

  • Soldiers meet with civilian recruiters at a job fair at Fort Huachuca, Arizona

    Report

    Job Search Process Is Working for Veterans

    A comparison of the unemployment experiences of ex–service members and civilians finds that while both groups had similar durations of unemployment, veterans delayed filing for benefits. But once engaged with employment services, they made active use of tools like job referrals and training.

    Feb 8, 2018

  • U.S. Army SOF take the hill while training in the elements at Panzer Kaserne, photo by Jason Johnston/U.S. Army

    Report

    Improving the Understanding of Special Operations

    An analysis of U.S. decisions related to the development or use of special operations forces can assist in future planning by the Army Special Operations Forces, the U.S. Army, and the joint special operations community.

    Feb 8, 2018

  • Grandson who served in Iraq helps his grandfather, who served in WWII

    Testimony

    Supporting Military and Veteran Caregivers from All Eras

    Research suggests ways to improve federal programs that support military and veteran caregivers. Notably, programs should be tailored to the needs of different populations, such as pre-9/11 and post-9/11 caregivers.

    Feb 6, 2018