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.

  • Q&A

    What Went Wrong in Yemen: Q&A with Alexandra Stark

    Peace talks in Yemen have stalled and the Houthis, who control much of the country, are now attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea in a show of support for Gaza. How did things go so wrong? And how might the United States play a more effective role throughout the region?

    May 8, 2024

  • Report

    Can National Dynamism Be Renewed?

    America's competitive position is threatened both from within and outside. Can great powers that begin to stagnate or even decline recapture energy and competitive advantage? History offers lessons for what the United States can do to renew its standing.

    Apr 30, 2024

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • Local residents make anti-tank obstacles to defend the city after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, February 27, 2022, photo by Serhii Hudak/Reuters

    Report

    Ukrainian Civilians' Contributions to Resisting Russia

    Civilian-based resistance in Ukraine began in the first hours of Russia's 2022 invasion. Civilians' actions have potential value in helping ensure victory by regaining territorial integrity and maintaining political sovereignty. And this war offers insight into what civilian contributions in future wars could look like.

    Aug 15, 2023

  • A Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter aircraft flies in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, April 27, 2023, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Uncounted Losses to Russia's Air Force

    The Russians have burned through more of the expected life span of their aircraft more quickly than anticipated. To make up for it, they'll have to procure more aircraft, increase maintenance, reduce operations, or accept a smaller force—or some combination of those.

    Aug 14, 2023

  • A military sapper picks up unexploded parts of a cluster bomb left after Russia's invasion near the village of Motyzhyn, in Kyiv region, Ukraine, April 10, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Biden Was Justified to Send Cluster Munitions to Ukraine

    The U.S. decision to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine—and the ensuing controversy—are reflective of a broader and long-standing question: What means are moral in war? While much has been made of the dangers posed by unexploded ordnance from these weapons, there are strong arguments for providing them to Ukraine.

    Aug 14, 2023

  • An aerial combat camera craftsman poses during Scorpion Lens 23, an annual training event at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, March 15, 2023, photo by Tech. Sgt. Devin Nothstine/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Planning Ethical Influence Operations

    Influence efforts should seek legitimate military outcomes, be necessary, employ means that are not harmful, have high likelihood of success, and should not generate effects beyond what is intended. Those that do not satisfy all criteria might still be justified if the expected benefit outweighs the harm.

    Aug 11, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    The Training Needs of the Aircrew Flight Equipment Career Field: Insights from a Survey of Airmen

    The work of aircrew flight equipment (AFE) personnel is vital to the safety of the aircrews in the U.S. Air Force. The authors surveyed AFE personnel to help the career field justify specific changes to training and personnel management policies.

    Aug 10, 2023

  • New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins (l) and Chinese Premier Li Qiang shake hands during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, June 28, 2023, photo by Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    New Zealand's New Prime Minister Is Making Nice with China

    There is little question that New Zealand will continue to pursue an independent foreign policy, albeit perhaps a quietly Western-aligned one, when it comes to China. Washington should not become disillusioned with Wellington, but it should not hold high expectations about cooperation on China issues either.

    Aug 9, 2023

  • Prisoners suspected of being part of the Islamic State, lie inside a prison cell in Hasaka, Syria, January 7, 2020, photo by Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

    Report

    How to Approach the Situation of ISIS Prisoners in Syria

    Prisons holding former ISIS fighters in Syria pose security threats and don't meet international standards. Prisoners, including youth, remain in legal limbo with no internationally agreed-on justice procedures. What courses of action and policy directions could help?

    Aug 9, 2023

  • An M10 Booker combat vehicle, U.S. Army photo

    Commentary

    Do Generals Dream of Electric Tanks?

    Members of the House Armed Services Committee have expressed concerns over the electrification of Army combat vehicles. Though such concerns have some merit, there is also a larger issue motivating research and development efforts—the growing demand for energy on the battlefield.

    Aug 8, 2023

  • Electronic warfare technicians Staff Sgt. Caleb Bowman (l) and Airman 1st Class Chance Wedgeworth push an AN/ALQ-131 electronic countermeasures pod out of their workshop at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, March 3, 2022, photo by Tech. Sgt. Maeson Elleman/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    Why DoD Needs Greater Focus on Nonlethal Weapons, Intermediate Force Capabilities

    Nonlethal weapons do not entail the firing of projectiles, the detonation of explosives, or even the use of edged weapons with blades. Their effects are more subtle, though no less powerful for that. But the effects of these systems, and their impact on overall military capabilities, are often underestimated or misunderstood.

    Aug 8, 2023

  • Service members with the Freedom of Russia Legion at their positions near a front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 21, 2023, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Russo-Ukrainian War Has Bolstered Ukraine's Nonstate Alliance Network

    Since 2014, militant groups from Russia, Belarus, Chechnya, and elsewhere have established themselves as allies of Ukraine in its fight against Russia and its aligned forces. Though alignment with these groups presents clear benefits in the near term, Kyiv should be cautious since these groups could turn on Ukraine at any time should their interests no longer align.

    Aug 7, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    Army Aviation Special and Incentive Pay Policies to Promote Performance, Manage Talent, and Sustain Retention

    This report presents results of an effort to determine how the U.S. Army This report presents results of an effort to determine how the U.S. Army might modernize special and incentive pays to better reward Army aviators' career advancement while cost-effectively achieving retention objectives. modernize special and incentive pays to better reward Army aviators’ career advancement while cost-effectively achieving retention objectives.

    Aug 7, 2023

  • (l-r) CPT Kristen Griest, MAJ Lisa Jaster, and 1LT Shaye Haver, the first three women to graduate from the U.S. Army's Ranger School, in Fort Benning, Georgia, October 16, 2015, photo by Paul Abell / AP Images for U.S. Army Reserve

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'Delete the Adjective: A Soldier's Adventures in Ranger School' by Lisa Jaster

    In Delete the Adjective: A Soldier's Adventures in Ranger School, Lisa Jaster recounts her experience as one of the first three women to graduate from U.S. Army Ranger School. Her book is a compelling argument that “adjectives are descriptors, not limiters” of what people can accomplish.

    Aug 4, 2023

  • Multimedia

    A Better Future for Ukraine and Its Partners

    This video includes the proceedings from a RAND National Security Research Division event held on July 17, 2023. Panelists discussed the latest developments from NATO, and looked ahead to the post-war reconstruction in Ukraine. Guest speakers include former President of the World Bank Group Robert Zoellick, former Ukraine Minister of Finance Natalie Jaresko, and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and Lt. Gen., U.S. Army (Ret.) Douglas Lute.

    Aug 2, 2023

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with service members at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 27, 2023, photo by Mikhail Tereshchenko/Sputnik/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    It Should Not Have Been a Surprise: The Threat from Putin's Russia

    The recent NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, left the world asking a hard question: “Are we in a new Cold War with Russia?” Our answer is to a different, and harder, and more important question: Is Russia already at war with the West?

    Aug 1, 2023

  • Man seen from behind sitting in a chair and looking at a wall with a line drawing of an entertainment center with a TV showing two people with their noses growing long signifying that they're lying, photo by SIphotography/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Truth Decay and National Security

    Even if the U.S. national security apparatus can operate entirely outside of politics, it remains exposed to the effects of Truth Decay—the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life. Little work is being done to understand how severe the impact of Truth Decay is on national security and, more importantly, how to mitigate it.

    Aug 1, 2023

  • Airmen from the 23d Fighter Group stand in formation during a change of command ceremony at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, July 10, 2017, photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    Service Members and Their Families Are Paying for the Air Force's Fiscal Shortfalls

    The United States faces the critical task of rebalancing long-term military personnel funding for sustainable workforce development and utilization. Otherwise, it could fail to keep the faith with the U.S. military's most precious asset: people and families.

    Jul 31, 2023

  • Undated photo purporting to show Wagner Group contractors, likely in Syria, released by the Security Service of Ukraine

    Report

    Will to Fight of Russia's Private Military Actors

    In Ukraine, Syria, and other parts of the world, private military contractors are operating on behalf of, yet are ostensibly separate from, the Russian state. How can the United States and its allies counter these adversary-employed private military actors?

    Jul 31, 2023

  • Jim Mitre and Margie Palmieri, video still courtesy of RAND Corporation

    Multimedia

    The Pentagon's Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer: One Year In

    Margie Palmieri of the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) joins Jim Mitre, director of RAND's International Security and Defense Policy Program, to discuss the formation of the CDAO and the first year of the new organization.

    Jul 27, 2023

  • A monk in Gansu Province, China, holds a picture of the Dalai Lama ahead of the Tibetan New Year, February 21, 2012, photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Research Brief

    Tibet's Prisons and Detention Centers: What Does Nighttime Lighting Reveal?

    Researchers used nighttime lighting data to better understand prisons and detention facilities in Tibet. They found patterns of growth in lighting concentrated in higher-security facilities since 2019. This trend may suggest a shift toward longer detentions and imprisonments.

    Jul 27, 2023

  • Report

    Report

    A night-time lighting analysis of Tibet's prisons and detention centres

    Using the innovative method of night-time lighting data, this study aims to shed light on the prisons and detention centres in Tibet.

    Jul 27, 2023