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.

  • Fishing boats departing from Shenjiawan port in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province towards the East China Sea fishing grounds, September 17, 2012, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Report

    How the United States Can Compete in the Gray Zone

    Jun 27, 2019

    America is entering a period of intensifying strategic competition with Russia and China. U.S. officials expect this to play out below the threshold of armed conflict, in the gray zone between peace and war. What policy options does the United States have to respond to gray zone threats?

  • Armed fighters over a background of Syrian, Iraqi, and U.S. currencies and gold ingots, photos by zabelin, Cimmerian, Vitoria Holdings LLC, and johan10/Getty Images

    Report

    U.S. Efforts Are Essential to Counter an Islamic State Comeback

    Aug 7, 2019

    The Islamic State can no longer rely on local funding sources as it did when it controlled territory. But as an insurgency, its expenses are far lower. With revenue from criminal activities and the cash it hoarded, the group will survive as a clandestine terrorist movement. Counterfinance, intelligence, and possibly military action will be needed.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • Chess pieces on a board, photo by phaisarn2517/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Yes, the U.S. Could Be Drawn Into Yet Another Big War

    The outcome of the Iraq invasion has done little to alter the factors that have led American leaders and the public into unwise military adventures. Today's big idea of America's mission is not so different from what it was in 2003. Any number of events could spark a new moral imperative to act.

    Apr 19, 2019

  • A Syrian refugee girl stands near luggage of Syrian refugees returning to Syria, in Beirut, Lebanon, December 6, 2018, photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    Commentary

    Syrian Refugees Won't Be Going Home Any Time Soon

    Active fighting in Syria is dwindling. But Syria remains divided in a frozen conflict and empty peace, unstable and unlikely to attract the investment in reconstruction, public institutions, job creation, and local reconciliation efforts needed to motivate Syrians in large numbers to return home.

    Apr 19, 2019

  • The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2019 reports to campus on R-Day, June 29, 2015, photo by PO2 Cory J. Mendenhall/U.S. Coast Guard

    Commentary

    Why Women Belong in Coast Guard Crews

    The Coast Guard benefits from the heightened respect that colleagues show each other in mixed-gender units, allowing personnel to focus and excel at their tasks at hand. When the Coast Guard zeroes in on evidence-based and appropriate accommodations for women and their physical capacities, as well as with parenting and family life, it will benefit everyone in uniform.

    Apr 18, 2019

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018, photo by Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters

    Commentary

    A Warming Trend in China-Russia Relations

    The China-Russia relationship is indeed growing across military, economic, and political dimensions. But it is still more anchored in shared grievances than in common visions. Both countries contest U.S. interests, but in different ways. Washington should treat them as separate strategic challenges.

    Apr 18, 2019

  • Military delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after a meeting ahead of National People's Congress in Beijing, China, March 4, 2019, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'Unrivaled' by Michael Beckley

    In Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World's Sole Superpower Michael Beckley argues not only that U.S. preeminence is safer than most contemporary commentary would have one believe, but also that it is more resilient.

    Apr 18, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Knowledge Development Report: Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS) Research Study Design

    This report presents information needed to design an evaluation that can address questions specified in a Congressionally-mandated Department of Labor longitudinal study of job counseling, training, and placement service for veterans.

    Apr 17, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Evaluation Design Options Report: Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS) Research Study Design

    This report presents multiple evaluation design options to address questions specified in specified in a Congressionally-mandated Department of Labor longitudinal study of job counseling, training, and placement service for veterans.

    Apr 17, 2019

  • Three tiny satellites photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station, October 4, 2012, photo by NASA

    Commentary

    Space Safety Coordination: A Norm for All Nations

    As space becomes more congested with satellites, the need for every nation to actively participate in the space safety coordination system grows. Most spacefaring countries participate, but a few countries do not—notably, Russia and China. That creates greater potential for collisions and hazards from debris.

    Apr 16, 2019

  • A cache of guns and ammunition uncovered by U.S. federal investigators in the home of U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson in Silver Spring, Maryland, February 20, 2019, photo by U.S. Attorney's Office Maryland/Reuters

    Commentary

    Overdue Overhaul: Security Clearance Reform in a Decade of Leakers, Spies, and Insider Threats

    With the legislative and executive branches seemingly on the same page regarding the need for changes to the security clearance and vetting system, long overdue reform appears to be within reach.

    Apr 15, 2019

  • News Release

    Unconventional Approaches Could Help Deter Russian Intimidation and Aggression Against the Baltic States

    Amid concerns that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are vulnerable to Russian intimidation and hybrid warfare, a new RAND Corporation report concludes that unconventional defense plans could help deter and counteract Russian aggression.

    Apr 15, 2019

  • Air Force Maj. Michael Odle, Defense Department assistant director of military compensation policy, reviews the DoD course content for the Blended Retirement System opt-in training at the Pentagon, Jan. 30, 2017, photo by Lisa Ferdinando/U.S. Army

    Report

    Effects of the Blended Retirement System on U.S. Army Reserve Participation and Cost

    The new Blended Retirement System (BRS) represents the first major change to the armed services' retirement system since the end of World War II. An analysis assesses the potential impact of the BRS on the U.S. Army Reserve participation and continuation pay cost and provides predictions of opt-in behavior.

    Apr 15, 2019

  • Flags of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are raised in a ceremony outside the presidential palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, during the country's centenary celebration, February 16, 2018, photo by Birute/Getty Images

    Report

    Deterring Russian Aggression in the Baltic States

    Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are vulnerable to low-level, hybrid, and full-scale attacks by Russian forces. Which unconventional strategies could they use to deter aggression and buy time for conventional military responses? And how can NATO allies help develop and fund these efforts?

    Apr 14, 2019

  • Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy march during a parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2011, photo by Stringer Iran/Reuters

    Commentary

    The U.S. Designated the Revolutionary Guards as a Terrorist Group. What Happens Next?

    The U.S. designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization was meant to serve America's interests by isolating Iran. Instead, it may increase the likelihood of a tit-for-tat escalation that will require significant resources to avoid a broader regional conflagration.

    Apr 11, 2019

  • The Iron Throne on the set of the television series Game of Thrones in Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 24, 2014, photo by Phil Noble/Reuters

    Commentary

    'Game of Thrones' Reflections on International Relations

    As two RAND researchers join millions of others in eagerly awaiting the final season of Game of Thrones, they reflect on one of the show's central themes: rival views of the nature of power and justice.

    Apr 11, 2019

  • Testimony

    The Consolidation of Political Power in China Under Xi Jinping: Implications for the PLA and Domestic Security Forces: Addendum

    Document submitted April 11, 2019, as an addendum to testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on February 7, 2019.

    Apr 11, 2019

  • Veterans and other guests attend a signing ceremony for the VA Mission Act of 2018 in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 6, 2018, photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Testimony

    Ensuring Veterans' Access to Timely, High-Quality Health Care

    Though the size of the U.S. veteran population has been decreasing over time, an influx of a new era of veterans with significant service-related health problems has increased VA health care enrollment to over 9 million. Insights from RAND research can help inform policymakers about the timeliness and quality of VA care.

    Apr 10, 2019

  • Men work on a damaged building in the northwestern province of Idlib, Syria, December 27, 2014, photo by Mahmoud Hebbo/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Syrian Civil War Is Coming to an End

    Coalition forces have driven ISIS from its final patch of territory in Syria. But the bigger challenge will be ending the ongoing civil war and rebuilding Syria to bring home millions of refugees and internally displaced people. This means creating a state that can provide safety, security, and opportunity that forestalls further rebellion and devastation.

    Apr 8, 2019

  • Report

    Do Differing Analyses Change the Decision? Using a Game to Assess Whether Differing Analytic Approaches Improve Decisionmaking

    In this report, RAND researchers use a structured comparison game to examine the value proposition of different analytic inputs (scenario-based versus Robust Decision Making) on a sample U.S. Department of Defense decision about force structure.

    Apr 8, 2019

  • News Release

    Countering Violent Extremism Programs May Gain Insights from Each Other

    As countries around the world develop countering violent extremism (CVE) programs to prevent homegrown terrorism, there is a dearth of understanding about what types of such programs exist and which approaches are most effective. A new RAND Corporation report aims to help CVE program directors and policymakers in Australia place their efforts in context and identify promising approaches domestically and internationally.

    Apr 4, 2019

  • Cordon tape at the scene of an accident in Australia, photo by STRINGERimage/Getty Images

    Report

    Countering Violent Extremism Programs May Gain Insights from Each Other

    As countries around the world develop CVE programs to prevent homegrown terrorism, there is a dearth of understanding about what types of such programs exist and which approaches are most effective. Mapping CVE programs against goals and activity types could facilitate information exchange across countries.

    Apr 4, 2019