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.

  • 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.

  • A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces escorts a blindfolded civilian detainee suspected to be a member of Islamic State militants in Raqqa, October 12, 2017, photo by Issam Abdallah/Reuters

    Journal Article

    Options for Dealing with ISIS Foreign Fighters Detained in Syria

    May 31, 2019

    The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are holding thousands of fighters who had joined ISIS's ranks from abroad as well as members of their families. What the world does (or does not do) about them could affect the future stability of the region and the countries from which they came.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • Silhouette of soldiers with military vehicles, photo by veneratio/Adobe Stock

    Report

    What Makes U.S. Military Interventions Successful?

    An analysis of 145 U.S. military interventions identifies the factors that have made them more or less successful at achieving their political objectives. They were successful 63 percent of the time, but levels of success have declined over time as the United States has pursued more ambitious goals. Before intervening, planners should carefully match strategy with political objectives.

    Apr 1, 2019

  • Report

    Improving Gender Diversity in the U.S. Coast Guard: Identifying Barriers to Female Retention

    This report documents the results of a study designed to help identify the root causes of female attrition in the active-duty Coast Guard and develop recommendations to help mitigate identified barriers to Coast Guard female retention.

    Mar 29, 2019

  • News Release

    Women Leave U.S. Coast Guard at Higher Rates Than Men; More Equitable Personnel Policies Could Help Narrow Gap

    As at other military services, women leave the active-duty Coast Guard at higher rates than men. To retain a diverse workforce the Coast Guard should continue to pursue more inclusive personnel policies, such as augmenting workforce gaps during parental leave, minimizing the impact parental leave has on evaluations and promotion, and expanding opportunities for leadership development training.

    Mar 29, 2019

  • Khalifa Haftar salutes as he participates in the General Security conference, in Benghazi, Libya, October 14, 2017, photo by Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is an Escalation Imminent in Western Libya?

    The Libyan Civil War has largely been contained to pockets of violence. Prolonged battles decimated cities such as Benghazi, Derna, and Sirte, but the majority of the country has been spared large-scale destruction. However, that could change soon.

    Mar 27, 2019

  • Pilots from the 388th Fighter Wing's 4th Fighter Squadron participating in Red Flag 19-1 at Nellis AFB, Nevada, January 31, 2019, photo by R. Nial Bradshaw/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Is It More Cost-Effective to Retain Pilots or Train New Ones?

    Instead of relying on retaining its current pilots, the U.S. Air Force could hypothetically find and train new ones. But expanding the pilot training pipeline is costly. What is the best way for the Air Force to allocate its resources and sustain its number of pilots?

    Mar 27, 2019

  • Mock Bitcoins are displayed in Berlin, January 7, 2014, photo by Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

    Report

    Terrorist Use of Cryptocurrencies

    Counterterrorism finance strategies have reduced terrorist access to official currencies. Will terrorist groups therefore increase their use of digital cryptocurrencies? New ones have emerged, including some that claim to be more private and secure than Bitcoin, but they also have limitations that make them less viable.

    Mar 27, 2019

  • Journal Article

    From Ballot-Boxes to Barracks: Votes, Institutions, and Post-Election Coups

    If war is too important to be left to the generals, politics may be too contentious to be left to the civilians. At least this is what frequent military forays into the political arena suggest. But when and why does the military actively intervene in politics?

    Mar 26, 2019

  • A U.S. soldier marches, followed by troops from various NATO countries, during a ceremony of the transfer of command in Herat, Afghanistan, May 31, 2005, photo by Ahmad Fahim/Reuters

    Testimony

    The U.S.-European Partnership Since World War II

    The relationship between the United States and Europe has advanced U.S. and global security since the end of World War II. The partnership has benefited the United States several times, including during the post-Cold War period, the years after the September 11 attacks, and the current era of strategic competition with Russia and China.

    Mar 26, 2019

  • Andrew Marshall, photo courtesy of RAND Corporation

    Announcement

    Andrew Marshall, RAND Researcher Who Founded Department of Defense's 'Internal Think-Tank,' Dies at 97

    The RAND Corporation notes with profound regret the passing of Andrew W. Marshall, 97, a RAND researcher who went on to serve for more than four decades as director of the Department of Defense's Office of Net Assessment, which contemplates military strategy decades into the future.

    Mar 26, 2019

  • Christine Wormuth gives and overview of testimony presented before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment on March 26, 2019.

    Multimedia

    The United States and Europe Since World War II: A Mutually Beneficial Partnership

    An overview of testimony by Christine Wormuth presented before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment on March 26, 2019.

    Mar 26, 2019

  • U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Christopher G. Dixon, operations officer, 2nd Marine Division (2nd MARDIV) is promoted to the rank of colonel during his promotion ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 3, 2014, photo by Lance Cpl. David McKenzie/U.S. Marine Corps

    Report

    Officer Career Management: Steps Toward Modernization in the 2018 and 2019 National Defense Authorization Acts

    In this report, the authors summarize departmental views on the military officer career management policies examined in the two reports required by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act and provide data to inform potential policy changes.

    Mar 25, 2019

  • Report

    Targeted Interoperability: A New Imperative for Multinational Operations

    This report looks at what motivations exist for interoperability and defines a reasonable framework from which to work if and when interoperability needs and investments meet strategic language in the United States.

    Mar 25, 2019

  • Imam Ibrahim Abdul Halim of the Linwood Mosque is embraced by Father Felimoun El-Baramoussy from the Coptic Church, in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019, photo by Edgar Su/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Christchurch Massacre Was Another Internet-Enabled Atrocity

    Terrorism has become an internet-enabled abuse—incited, propagated, and sometimes organized and concealed by online activity. Who should be held accountable for abusive content, the author or the publisher? And what role should the government play in regulating it?

    Mar 20, 2019

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army Navy patrol at Fiery Cross Reef, in the Spratly Islands, February 9, 2016, photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

    Commentary

    Time to Speak Up About the South China Sea

    Some leaders in Southeast Asia may fear that new or enhanced postures in the South China Sea could antagonize China. But directly calling out China's breaks from the status quo or intimidation tactics may not necessarily put these countries at risk of Chinese countermeasures.

    Mar 20, 2019

  • Christine Wormuth and Kimberly Kagan at the 2018 Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security

    Report

    Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security

    In October 2018, RAND hosted a forum on national security that honored the legacy of Roberta Wohlstetter, a military analyst who worked at RAND from its creation in 1948 until 1965. Panelists discussed events, capabilities, technologies, and methodologies that demand new concepts for national security and defense.

    Mar 19, 2019

  • An F-16 fighter jet lands at a U.S. Air Force base in Osan, South Korea, April 3, 2013, photo by Lee Jae Won/Reuters

    Commentary

    'Cost Plus 50' Explained

    The Trump administration may be considering requiring host nations to subsidize the entire cost of the U.S. military presence and pay an additional 50 percent of that amount. This type of transactional foreign policy increases the risk that countries will rethink their agreements to host U.S. forces, and that could reduce the U.S. military's ability to operate globally.

    Mar 15, 2019

  • Elizabeth Bodine-Baron discusses the challenges in combating the threat of Russian influence via disinformation spread on social media.

    Multimedia

    Approaches to Counter Russian Social Media Influence

    In this congressional briefing, RAND information scientist Elizabeth Bodine-Baron discusses the challenges in combating the threat of Russian influence via disinformation spread on social media.

    Mar 15, 2019

  • Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front walk along a street in the northwestern city of Ariha, after a coalition of insurgent groups seized the area in Idlib province, May 29, 2015, photo by Abed Kontar/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Terrorist Groups Learn: Implications for al Qaeda

    With the Islamic State losing the last of its territory, the global jihadist movement is now entering a new phase. The question on the minds of many is whether al Qaeda will be able to capitalize upon the moment and reclaim the dominant position as the most capable Sunni jihadist terrorist organization.

    Mar 14, 2019

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends wreath laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam March 2, 2019, photo by Jorge Silva/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    After the Hanoi Summit

    The best-case scenario for future U.S.-North Korea relations is that President Trump and Kim Jong-un remain committed to diplomacy. In the worst case, both countries' frustrations could spiral out of control.

    Mar 13, 2019