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 7, 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

  • Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev addresses the first meeting of the Madrid Peace Conference in Madrid, Spain, October 30, 1991, photo by Jim Hollander/Reuters

    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

  • World map with chess pieces with flags of Russia, China, and the United States, photo by theasis/Getty Images

    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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Members of the 60th and 349th Force Support Squadro, which worked together to become a seamless unit and Total Force Support Squadron, photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps/U.S. Air Force

    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, photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

    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

  • Chinese ICBM missile with China flag graphic overlay, photo by Allexxandar/Getty Images

    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, photo by Airman 1st Class Gerald Willis/U.S. Air Force

    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

  • Report

    Conceptual Design for a Multiplayer Security Force Assistance Strategy Game

    The authors explain the conceptual underpinnings and basic rules for a RAND-designed security force assistance strategy game. The game is a tool to explore the potential benefits and risks of different security force assistance strategies.

    Feb 7, 2019

  • President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un walk together before their working lunch during their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Hard to Predict Outcome of Second Trump-Kim Summit

    It's difficult to predict the outcome of the second summit between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump. At the first, Kim offered to fully denuclearize during President Trump's first term. But he continued building nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. If Kim keeps stalling, serious tensions could follow.

    Feb 6, 2019

  • A helicopter co-pilot reads a map en route to Playas Training Area, New Mexico during exercise Angel Thunder 2013, photo by Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

    Commentary

    America's National Defense Strategy and the Paradox of Technology

    The need for the military to make greater investments in technology is difficult if not impossible to separate from the risks posed by an increasing military reliance on this technology. Striking a balance between the two won't be easy.

    Feb 4, 2019

  • Binoculars on a map, photo by Angel_a/Getty Images

    Report

    The U.S. Department of Defense's Planning Process: Components and Challenges

    This report explores the current defense planning process used by the U.S. Department of Defense, with a focus on how scenarios are developed and employed to support defense planning.

    Feb 4, 2019

  • A map depicting Russian influence over Europe

    Report

    How to Counter Russia's Hostile Measures in Europe

    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.

    Jan 28, 2019

  • Syrian residents watch as U.S. troops patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria, November 4, 2018

    Commentary

    Intelligence Losses Pose Large Risks as U.S. Troops Head Home

    Departing theaters such as Syria and Afghanistan carries a host of associated risks, challenges and potential benefits. Leaders would be well served to factor into the debate the importance of U.S. intelligence collection capabilities, its connection to U.S. presence overseas and its role in anticipating current and future threats.

    Jan 24, 2019

  • Report

    Opportunities for European collaboration in armoured vehicles

    RAND Europe examined the scope for collaboration between European states in armoured vehicles (tracked, wheeled and protected transport vehicles) throughout their life-cycle, in support of the European Defence Agency (EDA).

    Jan 23, 2019

  • A U.S. Border Patrol agent at the San Ysidro port of entry from Mexico in San Diego, California, November 9, 2018

    Commentary

    Shutdown Could Provide Opening for Adversaries to Corrupt Those Protecting the U.S. Homeland

    Every day that the government shutdown continues prolongs the financial hardship for those on the front lines protecting the United States and gives cartels and transnational criminal organizations an opening to try to corrupt the DHS ranks. As negotiations continue to stall, the Trump administration and Congress should consider taking steps to guard against this vulnerability.

    Jan 22, 2019

  • Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence hold a bilateral meeting in Singapore, November 14, 2018

    Commentary

    Vietnam's Defense Policy of 'No' Quietly Saves Room for 'Yes'

    U.S.-China tensions are rising in the South China Sea. Washington should take solace in the fact that Vietnam's “Three Nos” policy actually offers significant breathing room for defense cooperation.

    Jan 21, 2019

  • 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