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.

  • Servicemen disembark from a Ka-29 helicopter during an exercise staged by the Baltic Fleet forces of the Russian Navy to train amphibious assault, at Khmelevka firing ground in Kaliningrad Region, Russia, April 4, 2019, photo by Vitaly Nevar/Reuters

    Report

    How Capable Are Russia's Armed Forces?

    Oct 29, 2019

    Since 2008, the Russian military has become more capable, not only of defending its territory but also of launching invasions against its neighbors. Russia's defense spending is now in decline, but NATO policymakers and defense planners should continue to monitor its military improvements.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Paris, France, November 28, 2019, photo by Bertrand Guay/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is NATO Brain Dead?

    Dec 3, 2019

    French President Macron's remark about the brain death of NATO was provoked by President Trump's October 6 decision, since modified, to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria. Macron is right to wonder how Trump would respond to any threat to European security. But he is wrong to attribute this uncertainty to diminishing support for the alliance among all Americans.

Explore National Security and Terrorism

  • Globe map on grunge texture, photo by caracterdesign/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Time to Return to the Basics of Statecraft

    After two decades of setbacks abroad, it's time to ask whether the decline in American influence is irreversible. Ultimately, neither China nor Russia is responsible for these difficulties. Washington's failures have been self-inflicted, the result of flawed policy rather than any decisive shift in the global balance of power.

    Sep 4, 2019

  • News Release

    Hostile Social Manipulation by Russia and China a Growing but Poorly Understood Threat

    With the role of information warfare in global strategic competition becoming much more apparent, a new RAND Corporation report delves into better defining and understanding the challenge facing the United States by focusing on the hostile social manipulation activities of the two leading users of such techniques: Russia and China.

    Sep 4, 2019

  • Illustration of a network, security information, and AI technology, image by issaronow/Adobe Stock

    Report

    'Hostile Social Manipulation' Is a Growing Threat to the United States

    Hostile social manipulation includes social media campaigns, sophisticated forgeries, and spreading rumors and conspiracy theories. As these techniques are used by Russia and China, Washington should invest more resources to understand and counter them.

    Sep 4, 2019

  • KC-46 refueling F-15E, photo by John D. Parker/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    The tanKer Aerial Refueling Model for Analysis (KARMA)

    This report describes the algorithms used in the tanKer Air Refueling Model for Analysis (KARMA) and explains how to use the model. KARMA simulates the extent to which a tanker force can aerially refuel combat aircraft in a denied environment.

    Sep 4, 2019

  • Report

    Projecting Air Force Rated Officer Inventory Across the Total Force: Total Force Blue Line Model for Rated Officer Management

    Managing the flow of Air Force rated officers has become more challenging. In this report, the authors document their efforts to develop a long-term career field planning model for all rated officers across the Total Force.

    Sep 4, 2019

  • Mozambique on a map with a green pin, photo by Mark Rubens/Adobe Stock

    Commentary

    Counterproductive Counterinsurgency: Is Mozambique Creating the Next Boko Haram?

    Despite recent claims of ties to the Islamic State, the threat in Mozambique from the Islamist insurgent group al-Sunnah wa Jamaah appears to be domestic, with scarce evidence of direct ties to international extremist groups. But if the Mozambique government continues to respond in a heavy-handed manner, the threat is likely to grow, with potentially devastating effects for the country and region.

    Sep 3, 2019

  • Kimberly Curry Hall summarizes research on improving female retention in the Coast Guard.

    Multimedia

    Improving Gender Diversity in the U.S. Coast Guard

    For active-duty women, many complex factors influence the decision to stay in or separate from the Coast Guard. In this video, RAND's Kimberly Curry Hall summarizes research on these factors and makes recommendations for improving female retention in the Coast Guard.

    Sep 1, 2019

  • Report

    Improving DoD's Weapon System Support Program: A Critical Readiness Driver Approach

    The readiness and sustainability of weapon systems is a key factor in defense. The Weapon System Support Program prioritizes system parts, but performance is lacking. RAND examines program effectiveness and gives recommendations for the future.

    Aug 29, 2019

  • The U.S. Navy's guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence transits international waters of the South China Sea with ships from India, Japan, and the Philippines, May 5, 2019, photo by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

    Report

    The Thickening Web of Asian Security Cooperation

    Key U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific have been strengthening their defense ties with regional actors over the past two decades. To what extent is this a response to the perceived threat of a rising, assertive China? And how will these new commitments affect the United States?

    Aug 29, 2019

  • Soldiers represent their nation's flags during the opening ceremony of Saber Strike 2015 held in Pabrade, Lithuania, June 8, 2015, photo by Sgt. James Avery/U.S. Army

    Report

    How Willing Are NATO Members to Defend Their Baltic Allies?

    What factors would make NATO allies more or less likely to respond to a Russian attack? And what can be done to reduce their vulnerability to Russian influence and to increase alliance cohesion?

    Aug 29, 2019

  • CCTV cameras, photo by pixinoo/Getty Images

    Commentary

    The Contours of China's Evolving Counterterrorism Strategy

    In discussing terrorism, China often uses language that seems lifted directly out of U.S.-style war on terror rhetoric. But no one should be fooled. Beijing's sole strategy for counterterrorism is widespread surveillance and repression, completely out of proportion to the level of threat it faces. It is using the threat of terrorism to mute international criticism of these practices and to export them abroad.

    Aug 27, 2019

  • Report

    Personnel Recovery in the AFRICOM Area of Responsibility: Cost-Effective Options for Improvement

    This report identifies the most cost-effective options for improving medical rescue capabilities in U.S. Africa Command's area of responsibility.

    Aug 27, 2019

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: September-October 2019

    This issue spotlights a wargame designed for young women interested in national security; ethics in scientific research, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning; and community citizen science.

    Aug 26, 2019

  • Cortney Weinbaum at the Roberta Wohlstetter Forum on National Security in Arlington, Virginia, October 24, 2018, photo by Grace Evans and Khorshied Samad/RAND Corporation

    Q&A

    Intel, Ethics, and Emerging Tech: Q&A with Cortney Weinbaum

    Cortney Weinbaum studies topics related to intelligence and cyber policy as a senior management scientist at RAND. In this interview, she discusses challenges facing the intelligence community, the risks of using AI as a solution, and ethics in scientific research.

    Aug 23, 2019

  • Blog

    Drug Spending, Back to School, Korean Unification: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap looks at illegal drug spending, the problem of waking up early for school, possible paths toward Korean unification, and more.

    Aug 23, 2019

  • A young boy waves a black flag inscribed with Islamic verses at a rally of Tunisian Salafi Islamists in the central town of Kairouan, May 20, 2012, photo by Anis Mili/Reuters

    Report

    What Will Drive the Next Generation of Salafi-Jihadis?

    Continued economic stagnation and a high youth unemployment rate, exacerbated by the Muslim youth bulge, could lead to failed expectations and spur radicalization among disenchanted Gen Z Muslims. And this cohort's familiarity with the internet could foreshadow an adaptive, tech-savvy terrorist threat.

    Aug 22, 2019

  • Making a move during a unique wargame hosted by RAND with a group called Girl Security, photo by Dori Gordon Walker/RAND Corporation

    Essay

    A Wargame at RAND Puts Teen Girls in Command

    RAND analysts developed and hosted a wargame to help young women learn firsthand about national security. It's a lesson in strategy, in the hard realities behind news headlines, but also in agility and resilience. In that, it's not so far removed from the daily life of a teenage girl.

    Aug 20, 2019

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy stand guard in the Spratly Islands, known in China as the Nansha Islands, February 10, 2016

    Commentary

    Why Vanguard Bank and Why Now? Explaining Chinese Behavior in the South China Sea

    What can Vietnam do now to make Chinese assertiveness against it less likely going forward? Although deepening the U.S.-Vietnam defense partnership in the short-term may be contributing to trouble with China, closer cooperation in the long-run could serve to deter China. Enhancing cooperation with Vietnam's other defense partners—namely Australia, Japan, and India—could help to deter Beijing as well.

    Aug 19, 2019

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a working lunch at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Osaka, Japan, on Friday, June 28, 2019, photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan's Hormuz Dilemma

    Japan is a staunch U.S. ally in the Indo-Pacific. But any decision to support a coalition against Iran in the Middle East is likely to put Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a tough position.

    Aug 16, 2019

  • A member of Iran's Revolutionary guards sits in front of a picture of a soldier at a war exhibition to commemorate the anniversary of Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in southern Tehran, September 26, 2007, photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

    Commentary

    Syria Changed the Iranian Way of War

    To get a sense of the playbook that Tehran might consult in any future conflict with the United States, Washington should pay close attention to what the Iranians have learned in Syria.

    Aug 16, 2019