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.

  • The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln conducts a replenishment-at-sea operation with other carrier group ships. The carrier group is now in the Red Sea earlier than planned at the direction of the White House, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Sherman/U.S. Navy photo

    Commentary

    U.S., Iran Must Both Tread Lightly with Tensions Running So High

    May 9, 2019

    Tensions between the United States and Iran have increased, raising concerns that they may be headed for war. But conflict is not inevitable. The United States and Iran could seek to re-establish communications channels, as well as look for available off-ramps to de-escalate tensions and keep the slightest misstep from spiraling into an all-out conflict.

  • Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy, a boatswain's mate assigned to Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in San Francisco, drives a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat near the Golden Gate Bridge, February 8, 2018, photo by PO3 Sarah Wi/U.S. Coast Guard

    Research Brief

    Why Do Women Leave the Coast Guard, and What Could Encourage Them to Stay?

    Mar 29, 2019

    Women leave the Coast Guard at higher rates than men. Focus groups raised concerns about work environment, career issues, and personal life matters. More inclusive personnel policies could help the Coast Guard address these concerns and retain more women.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces with a captured ISIS flag in Raqqa, Syria, August 14, 2017, photo by Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

    Commentary

    Baghdadi Resurfaces: What It Means for ISIS's Global Terror Campaign

    With last week's release of a video of Abu Bakr Baghdadi, ISIS showed that it's still got some life left—literally. The most important message to take away from the Baghdadi video may be that the Islamic State does not need territory to survive and even thrive.

    May 6, 2019

  • Members of Japan's Self-Defence Forces' airborne troops stand at attention during the annual SDF ceremony at Asaka Base, Japan, October 23, 2016, photo by Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

    Commentary

    With Little Fanfare, Japan Just Changed the Way It Uses Its Military

    In early April, Japan deployed its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) abroad to join a multinational force not connected to the United Nations. This is the first time that SDF personnel will participate in overseas peacekeeping operations not under UN control. The difference may not seem important, but it is.

    May 3, 2019

  • Report

    Aligning Incentives in the Transportation Working Capital Fund: Cost Recovery While Retaining Readiness in Military Transportation

    Many of U.S. Transportation Command's peacetime movements are crucial preparation for wartime. But some customers think that costs are too high. This report analyzes cost recovery to better align customer peacetime decisions with the wartime mission.

    May 2, 2019

  • A bearded man appearing to be Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaks in a video released April 29, 2019, photo by Islamic State Group/Al Furqan Media Network/Reuters TV

    Commentary

    What the Baghdadi Video Means

    For the first time in five years, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the reclusive leader of ISIS, appeared on video. Why did he suddenly feel the need to show his face and speak to his followers? The answer concerns how recent events intersect with ISIS's long-term needs.

    Apr 30, 2019

  • People walk in front of a monitor showing news of North Korea's fresh threat in Tokyo, Japan, August 10, 2017, photo by Toru Hanai/Reuters

    Tool

    DPRK Sanctions: Countering DPRK Proliferation Activities

    This tool provides an understanding of sanctions regimes currently in force against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    Apr 29, 2019

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, April 5, 2019, photo by Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin via Reuters

    Commentary

    Mueller Report May Result in Russian Sanctions but Not Better Behavior

    The Mueller report could help mobilize political pressure in the United States for a stronger posture toward Russian activities that harm American and allied interests. But the Kremlin will likely still see propaganda, disinformation, and subterfuge as useful tools to undermine America's values and cohesion.

    Apr 26, 2019

  • News Release

    Nonviolent Ways the United States Could Exploit Russian Vulnerabilities

    Russia's use of information warfare and its conventional military arsenal make it a formidable opponent, but the state also has significant weaknesses that could be exploited. A range of nonviolent measures could stress Russia's military, its economy, and the regime's political standing at home and abroad.

    Apr 24, 2019

  • Report

    Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground

    As the U.S. National Defense Strategy recognizes the United States is currently locked in a great-power competition with Russia. This report analyzes how the United States can compete to its own advantage and capitalize on Russia's weaknesses.

    Apr 24, 2019

  • Red Square in Moscow, Russia, photo by mnn/Adobe Stock

    Research Brief

    Ways the United States Could Overextend and Unbalance Russia

    Despite its vulnerabilities and anxieties, Russia remains a formidable opponent in a few key domains. What non-violent, cost-imposing measures could the United States pursue to stress Russia's economy, its military, and the regime's political standing at home and abroad?

    Apr 24, 2019

  • A Syrian refugee girl stands near luggage of Syrian refugees returning to Syria, in Beirut, Lebanon, December 6, 2018, photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    Commentary

    Syrian Refugees Won't Be Going Home Any Time Soon

    Active fighting in Syria is dwindling. But Syria remains divided in a frozen conflict and empty peace, unstable and unlikely to attract the investment in reconstruction, public institutions, job creation, and local reconciliation efforts needed to motivate Syrians in large numbers to return home.

    Apr 19, 2019

  • Chess pieces on a board, photo by phaisarn2517/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Yes, the U.S. Could Be Drawn Into Yet Another Big War

    The outcome of the Iraq invasion has done little to alter the factors that have led American leaders and the public into unwise military adventures. Today's big idea of America's mission is not so different from what it was in 2003. Any number of events could spark a new moral imperative to act.

    Apr 19, 2019

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018, photo by Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters

    Commentary

    A Warming Trend in China-Russia Relations

    The China-Russia relationship is indeed growing across military, economic, and political dimensions. But it is still more anchored in shared grievances than in common visions. Both countries contest U.S. interests, but in different ways. Washington should treat them as separate strategic challenges.

    Apr 18, 2019

  • Military delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after a meeting ahead of National People's Congress in Beijing, China, March 4, 2019, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'Unrivaled' by Michael Beckley

    In Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World's Sole Superpower Michael Beckley argues not only that U.S. preeminence is safer than most contemporary commentary would have one believe, but also that it is more resilient.

    Apr 18, 2019

  • The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2019 reports to campus on R-Day, June 29, 2015, photo by PO2 Cory J. Mendenhall/U.S. Coast Guard

    Commentary

    Why Women Belong in Coast Guard Crews

    The Coast Guard benefits from the heightened respect that colleagues show each other in mixed-gender units, allowing personnel to focus and excel at their tasks at hand. When the Coast Guard zeroes in on evidence-based and appropriate accommodations for women and their physical capacities, as well as with parenting and family life, it will benefit everyone in uniform.

    Apr 18, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Knowledge Development Report: Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS) Research Study Design

    This report presents information needed to design an evaluation that can address questions specified in a Congressionally-mandated Department of Labor longitudinal study of job counseling, training, and placement service for veterans.

    Apr 17, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Evaluation Design Options Report: Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS) Research Study Design

    This report presents multiple evaluation design options to address questions specified in specified in a Congressionally-mandated Department of Labor longitudinal study of job counseling, training, and placement service for veterans.

    Apr 17, 2019

  • Three tiny satellites photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station, October 4, 2012, photo by NASA

    Commentary

    Space Safety Coordination: A Norm for All Nations

    As space becomes more congested with satellites of all sizes and types, the need for every nation to actively participate in the space safety coordination system grows. Most spacefaring countries participate, but a few countries do not—notably, Russia and China. That creates greater potential for collisions and hazards from debris.

    Apr 16, 2019

  • News Release

    Unconventional Approaches Could Help Deter Russian Intimidation and Aggression Against the Baltic States

    Amid concerns that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are vulnerable to Russian intimidation and hybrid warfare, a new RAND Corporation report concludes that unconventional defense plans could help deter and counteract Russian aggression.

    Apr 15, 2019

  • A cache of guns and ammunition uncovered by U.S. federal investigators in the home of U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson in Silver Spring, Maryland, February 20, 2019, photo by U.S. Attorney's Office Maryland/Reuters

    Commentary

    Overdue Overhaul: Security Clearance Reform in a Decade of Leakers, Spies, and Insider Threats

    With the legislative and executive branches seemingly on the same page regarding the need for changes to the security clearance and vetting system, long overdue reform appears to be within reach.

    Apr 15, 2019

  • Flags of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are raised in a ceremony outside the presidential palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, during the country's centenary celebration, February 16, 2018, photo by Birute/Getty Images

    Report

    Deterring Russian Aggression in the Baltic States

    Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are vulnerable to low-level, hybrid, and full-scale attacks by Russian forces. Which unconventional strategies could they use to deter aggression and buy time for conventional military responses? And how can NATO allies help develop and fund these efforts?

    Apr 15, 2019