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. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in discussion with Ted Harshberger, director of RAND Project AIR FORCE

    Multimedia

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper Visits RAND

    Sep 16, 2020

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper visited RAND's Santa Monica headquarters on September 16, 2020. Secretary Esper emphasized the importance of deterring China and the role of the U.S. defense industrial base.

  • Smoke superimposed over a mass grave of ISIS fighters found in 2017 near Fallujah, Iraq, photos by Iraqi ministry of defence and Marina/Adobe Stock; design by Peter Soriano/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Who Are America's Jihadists?

    Sep 11, 2020

    U.S. residents who plotted to carry out jihadist attacks at home and those who traveled or attempted to travel to join jihadists abroad represent two dimensions of the terrorist threat. But both types are driven by internal motivations and circumstances as much as they are inspired by external groups.

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  • A Boogaloo Boy stands with protesters demanding that federal officers leave the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 25, 2020, photo by Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Building the Boogaloo Brand: Why the Movement Succeeds in Attracting New Followers

    The Boogaloo should not be dismissed as disaffected far-right youth enamored with firearms. Several acts of political violence on American soil are connected to the movement, including homicides. It's a fast-growing, anti-government and anti-police movement with broad appeal.

    Aug 19, 2020

  • The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., photo by lucky-photographer/Getty Images

    Blog

    Summer Reading List for Congress

    During the August recess Hill staff should have an opportunity to step back from the fast pace of votes and hearing preparation to examine priorities for the fall and beyond. This list of must-read research and commentary covers some policy issues they will likely be addressing after the break.

    Aug 18, 2020

  • A member of the Three Percent militia in downtown Stone Mountain, Georgia, where various militia groups stage rallies, August 15, 2020, photo by Dustin Chambers/Reuters

    Commentary

    Could 2020 Spawn '70s-Style Radicalization and Violence?

    The U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic has further cleaved an already deeply divided society. The conditions facing the United States today are reminiscent of those that gave rise to the radicalism of the 1970s and could once again lead to political violence, including terrorism.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • Russian Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jets perform during a demonstration flight at the MAKS-2019 air show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, Russia, August 29, 2019, photo by Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Su-57 Heavy Fighter Bomber: Is It Really a Fifth-Generation Aircraft?

    Russia's Su-57 aircraft has been in development since 2002 and is considered a key part of Russia's arms export industry as a fifth-generation fighter. Despite continued Russian efforts to sell the aircraft, it is unlikely that a fully developed and full production–ready Su-57 will be available for sale before the late 2020s.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • A missile is seen launched during a military drill in North Korea, May 10, 2019, photo by Korean Central News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    In North Korea, The U.S. Could Take the Lead

    North Korea is hurting: its economy is stagnant and it is having trouble feeding even its elites because of the UN/U.S. sanctions designed to pressure North Korean toward denuclearization. A combined carrot and stick approach may help overcome some of North Korea's reluctance to negotiate the future of its nuclear weapons program.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • Blog

    L.A.'s High Unemployment, RAND's New Research Center, Twitter: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on unemployment in the Los Angeles area, the new RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy, food consumption in the UK, and more.

    Aug 14, 2020

  • An amphibious landing demonstration, part of Rim of the Pacific exercise at Pyramid Rock Beach, on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, July 29, 2018, photo by Sgt. Aaron Patterson/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    Why Militaries Should Play Games with Each Other

    With rising rates of COVID-19 and vulnerable populations at risk, Hawaii's people are understandably nervous about the upcoming Rim of the Pacific exercise scheduled for August. But COVID-19 cannot be a blanket check on international engagement by the U.S. military. With the effects of COVID-19 expected to last for decades, the forward thinking found in games may be exactly what is needed.

    Aug 14, 2020

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and his entourage meet with Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran, January 23, 2016, photo by Khamenei.ir / CC BY 4.0

    Commentary

    What to Watch to Understand the Sino-Iranian Relationship

    Beijing and Tehran are in the process of finalizing an ambitious partnership covering a range of security and economic issues. The United States should not overreact to shifting geopolitical dynamics in the Middle East, and should instead keep an eye out to assess the evolution of the relationship and take stock of what is delivered instead of what is merely promised.

    Aug 13, 2020

  • Members of Japan's Self-Defence Forces' airborne unit attend the annual SDF ceremony at Asaka Base in Asaka, north of Tokyo, Japan, October 14, 2018, photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

    Commentary

    Missing in Japan's Deterrence Debate

    Following its decision to cancel the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system, Japan is currently debating future deterrence capabilities. The debate over how Japan can defend itself is an important one, offering a major opportunity to shape the country's future defense posture.

    Aug 13, 2020

  • Protesters with a group known as "Antifa", or anti-fascists, link arms at an event on the campus of the University of Virginia organized by the group Students Act Against White Supremacy marking the one year anniversary of a deadly clash between white supremacists and counter protesters August 11, 2018 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Multimedia

    The Consequences of Designating Antifa as a Terrorist Organization

    RAND senior policy researcher Heather J. Williams describes the major strategic changes that could occur if Antifa were designated as a terrorist organization.

    Aug 11, 2020

  • Servicemembers from all four military branches salute during the 50th Annual EOD Memorial Service, May 4, 2019, photo by Samuel King Jr./U.S. Air Force

    Report

    U.S. Military Approaches to Leadership Vary Among Services

    Emerging global security challenges might require different military leadership approaches and perspectives. How do the services currently develop leaders? And how do each service's personnel practices and culture influence how general and flag officers lead, manage, and advise?

    Aug 10, 2020

  • Blog

    Preparing for a COVID-19 Election, Hurricane Response, North Korea: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on preparing for a COVID-19 election, how the pandemic is affecting artists, North Korea's deadly artillery, and more.

    Aug 7, 2020

  • Twitter logo and binary cyber codes, November 26, 2019, photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Commentary

    Insider Threat at Twitter Is a Risk to Everyone

    Three young hackers were charged in the hijacking of dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts. Their tactics point out how vulnerabilities at tech platforms can pose a risk to national security.

    Aug 7, 2020

  • A throng of shoppers in Myungdong, downtown Seoul, South Korea, July 17, 2011, photo by United Nations/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Report

    A North Korean Artillery Attack Could Kill Thousands in Only an Hour

    North Korea maintains nearly 6,000 artillery systems within range of major South Korean population centers. Five attack scenarios show that casualties could range from 4,500 to more than 200,000. The United States and South Korea should avoid military provocation cycles that could lead to these attacks.

    Aug 6, 2020

  • President Donald J. Trump visits Vietnam, November 11, 2017, photo by Shealah Craighead/White House

    Commentary

    What Does Vietnam Think About America's Indo-Pacific Strategy?

    The South China Sea is where the rubber meets the road for U.S.-Vietnam security ties, and in this regard, Hanoi has gone as far as it is comfortable. Washington should expect Vietnam to continue seeking balance between China, which has economic and military superiority over it, and the United States, which can help offset Chinese power.

    Aug 5, 2020

  • Report

    Modeling Career Enlisted Aviator Retention in the U.S. Air Force

    The authors developed a U.S. Air Force career enlisted aviator (CEA)-specific model that can serve as the foundation for developing the analytic capability required to determine the efficient amount of special and incentive pay for CEAs.

    Aug 5, 2020

  • Journal Article

    Quality Of End-Of-Life Care Is Higher In The VA Compared To Care Paid For By Traditional Medicare

    The Medicare-reliant veterans were significantly more likely to receive high-intensity care, in the form of chemotherapy, hospital stays, admission to the intensive care unit, more days spent in the hospital, and death in the hospital. However, they were significantly less likely than VA-reliant patients to have multiple emergency department visits. Higher-intensity end-of-life care may be driven by financial incentives present in fee-for-service Medicare but not in the VA's integrated system.

    Aug 5, 2020

  • The U.N. Security Council's five permanent members (P5) attend a Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons conference in Beijing, China, January 30, 2019, photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

    Commentary

    Negotiating with Great Powers on Nuclear Arms

    New START, the U.S.-Russia arms control treaty, expires in February 2021. Washington insists that any follow-on accord must include China. But overcoming Beijing's reticence to engage in nuclear talks will likely take deft diplomacy, time, and patience.

    Aug 3, 2020

  • Naval War College President Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, left, views the wargaming hub at the college's Naval Postgraduate School program in Monterey, CA, January 29, 2020, photo by Javier Chagoya/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Wargaming the Department of Defense for Strategic Advantage

    Defense acquisition, personnel, and management systems have long been seen as areas in need of reform, as costs and man-hours continue to increase over the years. Gaming new policies that govern these areas can offer early insights into potential stumbling blocks and provide leaders valuable feedback on decisions before major costs are incurred.

    Aug 3, 2020

  • A U.S. Marine with the 3rd Marine Division moves game pieces during a game of Memoir 44’ on Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 10, 2019

    Commentary

    What Strategic Decisions on the Horizon for the Department of Defense Can Best Be Shaped Through Wargaming?

    The U.S. Marine Corps is not alone in its avid use of wargaming to shape its decisions of the future. The other services are conducting similar efforts with equal rigor and zeal. And as the national deficit grows and budgetary constraints mount, the Department of Defense will most likely increasingly leverage all its analytical tools, including wargaming.

    Aug 3, 2020