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.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • 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

  • Nine Airmen graduate from the Basic Flight Engineer Course at the 344th Training Squadron, Career Enlisted Aviator Center of Excellence, as the first-ever class comprised completely of non-prior service students at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, 13 Dec., photo by 1st Lt. Kayshel Trudell/U.S. Air Force

    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

  • Blog

    China in 2050, Using Mobile Tools to Track COVID-19, Telemedicine: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the future of U.S.-China competition, privacy concerns surrounding mobile tools used to track COVID-19, how telemedicine can help patients access specialized care, and more.

    Jul 31, 2020

  • Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Vladimir Putin of Russia arrive for a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, September 16, 2019, photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    Commentary

    Can America Weaken the Russia-Iran Axis?

    America's slow-motion retreat in Syria could embolden Iran and Russia and perhaps lead them to underestimate U.S. resolve to protect its interests in the Middle East. Clearer U.S. priorities and more deliberate engagement could reduce risk and help avoid miscalculation.

    Jul 31, 2020

  • Report

    An Updated Look at Military and Civilian Pay Levels and Recruit Quality

    Comparing military pay with civilian pay, the authors find that military pay in 2017 was above the 70th percentile of civilian pay. It was at the 85th percentile for enlisted personnel and the 77th percentile for officers.

    Jul 30, 2020

  • A group of U.S. NATO Implementation Force (IFOR) soldiers climb off a destroyed Bosnian tank March 16, 1996, that was hit in 1992, at the beginning of the war between Bosnian Moslem and Serbs, photo by Peter Andrews/Reuters

    Report

    Why America Fails in Irregular Warfare

    A memoir drawn from four decades of experience in the U.S. Army explores the strengths and limitations of America's irregular warfare capability. The author, who often saw success at the tactical level only to be followed by strategic muddling and eventual failure, offers ideas on how to develop a world-class way of irregular war.

    Jul 29, 2020

  • India's prime minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, during a bilateral meeting in Osaka, Japan, June 27, 2019, photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Quad Is Poised to Become Openly Anti-China Soon

    What has been striking about the Quad thus far is that it has resisted openly identifying China as the primary target it seeks to rein in. But if the Quad is to be sustained, then it will likely have to come to grips with a forward-leaning approach to opposing Chinese activities.

    Jul 28, 2020

  • North Korean and South Korean Flags

    Multimedia

    Rising Tensions Between the Two Koreas

    RAND policy analyst Soo Kim describes how the United States, South Korea, and Japan might respond to North Korea's recent provocations.

    Jul 27, 2020

  • Big data concept, global communication networks of planet earth. Data storage system. 3D illustration of Artificial Intelligence. Elements of this image are furnished by NASA, photo by NASA/Siarhei/AdobeStock

    Report

    Whose Story Wins: Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft

    Noopolitik, which favors the use of "soft power," is a new concept for adapting U.S. grand strategy to the information age. What are some new ways to fight back? And how might the future of noopolitik depend on what happens to the global commons?

    Jul 27, 2020

  • Sudan's Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, head of Military Transitional Council, and the military's chief of staff Lieutenant General Kamal Abdul Murof Al-mahi shake hands after being sworn in as leaders of Military Transitional Council in Sudan in this still image taken from video on April 11, 2019, photo by Sudan TV/Reuters

    Commentary

    Can Sudan Escape Its History as a Hub for Violent Extremists?

    Sudan continues to confront major challenges that could derail its path back to the mainstream of international politics. Sudan must show that it is no longer a haven for terrorist and violent extremist groups and that it is committed to ensuring that this remains true.

    Jul 24, 2020