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.

  • An F-22 Raptor conducts a combat air patrol mission over an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, September 13, 2019, photo by MSgt. Russ Scalf/U.S. Air Force

    Research Brief

    Who Has More Influence in the Indo-Pacific, the United States or China?

    Nov 12, 2020

    Neither the United States nor China is clearly winning the competition for influence in the Indo-Pacific region as a whole. China has more economic influence, and the United States has more diplomatic and military sway. But partners generally value economic development over security concerns.

  • Sign that says Fort Bragg, Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces, photo by U.S. Army

    Report

    How to Protect Army Installations from Emerging Threats

    Nov 10, 2020

    Emerging technologies such as drones, 5G communications, smart city systems, and the use of social media disinformation by adversaries all pose potential threats to U.S. Army bases. A new framework can help assess possible solutions and the resources required to defend against these threats.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, special envoy of the foreign minister of Qatar are seen during talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Islamic State in Afghanistan Is Down, but Not Out

    The Afghan Taliban is on the verge of entering into a power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government in a peace deal facilitated by the United States. Washington seems to be holding out hope that the deal will stabilize the country. But the Islamic State Khorasan Province remains a concern. The Islamic State in Afghanistan may be down, but it's not out.

    Sep 14, 2020

  • Blog

    America's Declining Global Influence, COVID-19 and Schools, Pardoning Snowden: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on America's declining status on the world stage, why schools need long-term plans to address COVID-19, what Shinzo Abe's resignation means for the U.S.-Japan alliance, and more.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Osama bin Laden (L) sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a secret location in Afghanistan, November 10, 2001, photo by Hamid Mir/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is Ayman al-Zawahiri Really the Future of Al-Qaida?

    Nineteen years after 9/11, al Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has yet to achieve the household notoriety evoked by his immediate predecessor, Osama bin Laden. But even though Zawahiri has conjured less of a personality cult, al Qaida's current leader is just as dangerous to the United States as its old one.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Silhouette of several militants with rifles, photo by zabelin/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Are Counter Violent Extremism Interventions Effective?

    Government efforts to counter the propaganda and radicalization that lead to violent extremism are becoming more common around the world, but there's little research on whether such programs work. It is critical to conduct more research to tease out which programs are most effective.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • 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?

    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.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy is seen during a military display in the South China Sea, April 12, 2018, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Journal Article

    Winning Friends and Influencing People: Naval Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics

    This report provides an overview of the PLAN's approach to naval diplomacy, focusing on its activity outside maritime East Asia, in what it calls the "far seas."

    Sep 11, 2020

  • A man wearing a t-shirt with an image of Zakir Rashid Bhat, the leader of an al Qaeda affiliated militant group in Kashmir, in Dadasara, Kashmir, May 24, 2019, photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is al Qaida Still a Threat?

    Nineteen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, does al Qaida still pose a significant threat to U.S. national security? Among researchers, military and intelligence officials, and policymakers who study the group, there is little consensus. An accurate assessment of al Qaida's organizational health must take into account the group's recent and dramatic resurrection.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Tate, an aviation maintenance technician at Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, hooks up a net full of beach debris and trash to the bottom of an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter at a beach near Neah Bay, Wash., Jan. 22, 2015. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg / U.S. Coast Guard

    Report

    How Can the Coast Guard Use Gaming?

    The U.S. Coast Guard employs some gaming approaches, but doing so more formally could help the service expand its tool sets. In this Perspective, the authors discuss how the service can use gaming better.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • A mobile phone near an illustration of a network

    Report

    Countering Violent Extremism in Indonesia: Using an Online Panel Survey to Assess a Social Media Counter-Messaging Campaign

    This report presents the results of an evaluation designed to assess the effects of countering violent extremism–themed social media content used in a campaign to promote tolerance, freedom of speech, and rejection of violence in Indonesia.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • Photograph image of Philippine flag standing on a war torn city of Marawi in the Philippines.

    Report

    Countering Violent Extremism in the Philippines: A Snapshot of Current Challenges and Responses

    In this report, RAND researchers provide a snapshot of the terrorist and extremist threats facing the Philippines and the countering violent extremism efforts that the Philippine government and nongovernmental agencies have undertaken in response.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • A row of young people looking at their phones

    Report

    Promoting Peace as the Antidote to Violent Extremism: Evaluation of a Philippines-Based Tech Camp and Peace Promotion Fellowship

    This report contains an evaluation of and recommendations from a countering violent extremism (CVE)–themed set of tech camps and fellowships in the Philippines. This report also contains research from a study of CVE radio programming on Mindanao.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • Dilapidated structures are seen in Marawi City, Philippines, May 11, 2019, abandoned two years since pro-Islamic State militants began their attacks there, photo by Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

    Project

    Evaluating Programs That Counter Violent Extremism

    Countries around the world are fighting a growing threat of violent extremism. Many have begun implementing countering violent extremism (CVE) interventions to prevent radicalization. Have these programs been effective?

    Sep 9, 2020

  • Two USAF A-10 Thunderbolt IIs release countermeasure flares over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, July 23, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Parsons/U.S. Air Force

    Q&A

    The Future of Warfare: Q&A with Raphael Cohen

    What will the next decade of warfare look like? Raphael Cohen led a project to answer that question for the U.S. Air Force. The team considered not just technological or force changes, but also how global politics, economics, and the environment will shift and evolve between now and 2030.

    Sep 8, 2020

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper meets with Palauan President Tommy Remengesau in Koror, Palau, August 27, 2020, photo by Jim Garamone/U.S. Department of Defense

    Commentary

    America Is Betting Big on the Second Island Chain

    The United States has deep and abiding interests in the Second Island Chain. But China's growing influence in the region could complicate U.S. plans. Washington will almost certainly seek to strengthen security cooperation with Pacific Island states in the Second Island Chain and bolster defensive positions on U.S. territories in the region.

    Sep 8, 2020

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, June 18, 2020, photo by Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Reuters

    Commentary

    Abe's Resignation Could Leave Japan Less Secure—and Destabilize Its U.S. Alliance

    Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's leadership, Japan tightened its alliance with the United States and took on a more proactive role in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. His resignation could very well leave Japan less secure and the U.S.-Japan alliance unstable.

    Sep 8, 2020

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: September-October 2020

    Feature stories explore how Pardee RAND is helping to shape the future of public policy through its Faculty Leaders Program; the safety and sustainability of the U.S. blood supply; and how telemedicine is changing the delivery of health care.

    Sep 8, 2020

  • Syrian refugees cross into Jordanian territory, near the town of Ruwaished, 149 miles east of Amman, December 5, 2013, photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

    Report

    Stabilizing Eastern Syria After ISIS

    Eastern Syrian communities are no longer occupied by ISIS but they are in a fraught political environment where the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government have both expanded their presence and some ISIS fighters remain. What are the region's most urgent needs and is there a viable strategy to build near-term stability?

    Sep 8, 2020

  • American whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen on a screen as he delivers a speech during the Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Denmark, June 28 2016, photo by Scanpix Denmark/Mathias Loevgreen Bojesen/via Reuters

    Commentary

    A Snowden Pardon Could Have a Snowball Effect on Protecting National Security Secrets

    If President Trump were to pardon Edward Snowden, then he might encourage vigilante behavior that puts at risk the very sensitive information and operations—meaning American interests and lives—that the U.S. national security system is intended to protect.

    Sep 4, 2020

  • Patricia Marshall, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center chief of strategy, shares information about the Defense Innovation Dashboard project with Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass at the AFWERX Austin hub, Aug. 20, 2020. During the visit, the AFWERX team showcased various initiatives aimed toward modernizing the Air Force including the AFVentures Fellowship, Agility Prime program, AFWERX internships, Spark Colliders and RAPIDx, photo by Staff Sgt. Jordyn Fetter/Air National Guard

    Report

    Advancement and Retention Barriers in the U.S. Air Force Civilian White Collar Workforce: Implications for Demographic Diversity

    This report documents results of a study examining challenges that Air Force civilian women, racial/ethnic minorities, and individuals with disabilities may face in advancing to higher pay grades as well as factors influencing retention decisions.

    Sep 3, 2020

  • Senior Airman Colby Cook, 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects an F-35A Lightning II before takeoff at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Nov. 16, 2017. The F-35A is the Air Force's latest low observable fifth-generation fighter incorporating stealth technology, photo by Naoto Anazawa/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Evaluating Alternative Maintenance Manpower Force Structure Concepts for the F-35A

    The authors of this report evaluate the costs and benefits of maintenance manpower force structures in the U.S. Air Force that merge maintenance career fields in different ways, including alternatives that are being explored by the Air Force today.

    Sep 3, 2020