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.

  • U.S. Airmen take off in an Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 30, 2018, photo by Alejandro Pena/U.S. AIr Force

    Commentary

    Force Planning in the New Era of Strategic Competition

    Mar 28, 2020

    If the United States means to take a return to strategic competition seriously, then force planning must evolve beyond the post–Cold War approach. A new framework would let users test their intuition and identify areas of advantage while avoiding the risk of persisting in competitions that impose onerous costs.

  • An empty market after a curfew was imposed to halt the spread of COVID-19 in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, March 18, 2020

    Commentary

    Economic Consequences of COVID-19 in the Middle East: Implications for U.S. National Security

    Apr 1, 2020

    The global COVID-19 pandemic will have a dramatic impact on economies across the globe, but the Middle East may be particularly affected given the simultaneous fall in oil prices. The economic consequences of this pandemic are also likely to affect U.S. interests in the region.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • Journal Article

    Annex K: United Kingdom: Annex to Report: Vision on Defence-Related Skills for Europe Today and Tomorrow

    Annex to study examining the skills requirements of the European defence sector, defence-related skills gaps and shortages, the challenges with different sets of skills, and the general features of the European defence industrial skills supply.

    Oct 30, 2019

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visit the Hmeymim air base in Latakia Province, Syria, December 11, 2017, photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik Photo Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Risky Game Plan for Syria

    It will take time to assess the extent to which Russia has “won“ in Syria. Absent a peaceful end to the conflict and an infusion of large-scale Western aid, downside risks for Russia could take some of the bloom off of its rose in Syria.

    Oct 29, 2019

  • A simulated nuclear key turn

    Report

    Managing Nuclear Modernization Challenges for the U.S. Air Force: A Mission-Centric Approach

    This report identifies and describes means to allay significant challenges to the fielding of new Air Force nuclear weapon systems, with a focus on the integrated planning and preparation for mission success across programs.

    Oct 29, 2019

  • Servicemen disembark from a Ka-29 helicopter during an exercise staged by the Baltic Fleet forces of the Russian Navy to train amphibious assault, at Khmelevka firing ground in Kaliningrad Region, Russia, April 4, 2019, photo by Vitaly Nevar/Reuters

    Report

    How Capable Are Russia's Armed Forces?

    Since 2008, the Russian military has become more capable, not only of defending its territory but also of launching invasions against its neighbors. Russia's defense spending is now in decline, but NATO policymakers and defense planners should continue to monitor its military improvements.

    Oct 29, 2019

  • People walk on the street, where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his caliphate back in 2014, in the old city of Mosul, Iraq, October 27, 2019, photo by Abdullah Rashid/Reuters

    Commentary

    Baghdadi's Death Will Make Global Affiliates More Independent

    The recent death of Islamic State leader and self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a major blow to the Islamic State. Baghdadi held a kind of elusive charisma for the organization. He will be replaced, but this does not mean that the Islamic State will simply go back to business as usual.

    Oct 28, 2019

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: November-December 2019

    This issue spotlights research on veteran suicide; liability implications of driverless cars; and new approaches to improving the post-incarceration experience. The Giving column highlights a million-dollar gift to fund research on homeless veterans.

    Oct 28, 2019

  • Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division out of Hawaii and from TRADOC Centers of Excellence participated in the U.S. Army's Cyber Blitz April 2016 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. Cyber Blitz provides the Army a venue to observe and assess cyber and electromagnetic activity-related interactions in a Tactical Command Post., photo by Kristen Kushiyama/U.S. Army CERDEC

    Report

    Assessing Force Sufficiency and Risk Using RAND's Multi-Period Assessment of Force Flow (MPAFF) Tool

    This report describes RAND's Multi-Purpose Assessment of Force Flow tool for conducting time-phased analysis of Army force sufficiency under a variety of assumptions on force generation policies, readiness policies, and force employment policies.

    Oct 28, 2019

  • A man prays at a memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, following a mass shooting there four days earlier, October 31, 2018, photo by Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

    Commentary

    One Year After Tree of Life, We Still Aren't Talking Enough About Violent White Supremacy

    In the year since a gunman killed 11 worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the conversation about white supremacy has grown louder. But the United States still has a long way to go in dealing with this threat.

    Oct 27, 2019

  • Blog

    The Syria Withdrawal, Climate Policy, Drones: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the effects of the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, one expert's take on climate policy, how drones could help get blood to soldiers who need it, and more.

    Oct 25, 2019

  • Report

    Improving U.S. Military Accession Medical Screening Systems

    The project team outlined advantages and disadvantages of the two main systems for medically screening applicants to the U.S. armed forces and recommended a hybrid model as potentially more effective and efficient.

    Oct 24, 2019

  • Report

    Army Expeditionary Civilian Demand: Forecasting Future Requirements for Civilian Deployments

    As the largest provider of government civilians to support U.S. military operations, the Army stands to benefit to a great extent from a more robust process for forecasting future demand for its civilian workforce.

    Oct 24, 2019

  • Lithuanian soldiers prepare for the opening ceremony of Saber Strike 18 at Vilnius, Lithuania

    Report

    Exploring the Role Nuclear Weapons Could Play in Deterring Russian Threats to the Baltic States

    This report examines what role nonstrategic nuclear weapons could play in deterring a Russian invasion of the Baltic states, where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's current posture is weak.

    Oct 24, 2019

  • Artificial intelligence concept, photo by kentoh/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Military Deception: AI's Killer App?

    Contrary to the promise that AI would deliver an omniscient view of everything happening in the battlespace—the goal of U.S. military planners for decades—it now appears that technologies of misdirection are winning. Military deception, in short, could prove to be AI’s killer app.

    Oct 23, 2019

  • Illustration of a robot analyzing a database of personnel, image by OstapenkoOlena/Getty Images

    Report

    Big Data Could Improve Military Recruiting

    DoD and the U.S. military services have had some success with data-enabled outreach and recruiting. But they could benefit from expanding their adoption of private-sector approaches. For example, recruiters could better target prospects through the use of personally identifiable information and third-party data.

    Oct 22, 2019

  • A convoy of U.S. vehicles after withdrawing from northern Syria, on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq, October 21, 2019, photo by Ari Jalal/Reuters

    Commentary

    How the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Provides a Boost to ISIS

    President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria could provide the ISIS terrorist group with the time and space to regrow its organization and extend its networks throughout the Middle East. The longer-term strategic effects of the decision could reverberate in the region for years to come.

    Oct 21, 2019

  • A convoy of U.S. vehicles is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, in Erbil, Iraq October 21, 2019, photo by Azad Lashkari/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Syrian Withdrawal: Where Things Stand

    Without an orderly process for its national security decisions, the Trump administration has defaulted to the worst option regarding Syria. The sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces has left an opening for Russia to exploit. It also left the Kurds, a U.S. partner, to fend off a Turkish assault.

    Oct 21, 2019

  • Report

    Evaluating Future Trends in Support of the Air Force Strategic Environment Assessment: Discussion and Results from a Structured Workshop

    This report presents plausible futures based on nine trends in the categories of Geopolitical, Military & Warfare, and Human & Workforce to assist Air Force strategic planning in developing the Air Force Strategic Environment Assessment.

    Oct 21, 2019

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017, photo by TIMA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Iran, the Unitary State

    Current and future U.S. policy toward Iran must begin with the premise that the Islamic Republic is the sum of its parts and that to try to empower moderates or disempower hard-liners is naive. Rather, Washington should strive to deal with Iran as it is, not as Washington wishes it were.

    Oct 18, 2019

  • A Turkish army howitzer is positioned near the Turkish-Syrian border in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 17, 2019, photo by Murad Sezer/Reuters

    Commentary

    Indecision in Washington Compounded the Kurds' Dilemma

    Core qualities of statesmanship and statecraft have been notably lacking in charting the U.S. administration's Syria end game. This has compounded the unavoidable costs of withdrawal with charges of betrayal and a retreat under fire.

    Oct 18, 2019

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released on June 21, 2019, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    U.S. Economic War on China Weakens Nuclear North Korea, Too

    An effective way to bend North Korea toward denuclearization may be exerting consistent and targeted pressure on China. Diminishing Beijing's relevance isn't a cure-all. But it could pierce Kim's illusion of invincibility and place him in a bind to make some concessions.

    Oct 18, 2019