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

  • Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro meets with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, October 22, 2016, photo by Miraflores Palace/Handout/Reuters

    Commentary

    Hezbollah Is in Venezuela to Stay

    Whatever the benefits of replacing the current Venezuelan regime with Washington's preferred alternative, Juan Guaidó, there's reason to doubt that it would change the country's problematic relationship with Hezbollah. Hezbollah is well-entrenched in Venezuela, where it has established a vast infrastructure for its criminal activities.

    Feb 11, 2019

  • Report

    Estimating Potential Savings in Department of Defense Activities

    There is a push to make the U.S. government run like the private sector. Alternatives to this approach that attempt to account for the complexity and uniqueness of the U.S. Department of Defense are presented in this report.

    Feb 11, 2019

  • Members of the 60th and 349th Force Support Squadro, which worked together to become a seamless unit and Total Force Support Squadron, photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Integrating Active and Reserve Component Staff Organizations: Improving the Chances of Success

    A RAND Corporation study undertook a literature review and analysis of several case studies to examine factors that could increase the likelihood of success in integrating active and reserve component military staff organizations.

    Feb 11, 2019

  • Man in a field looking at the horizon, photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How Horizon Scanning Can Give the Military a Technological Edge

    Horizon scanning could promote innovative practices and innovation uptake, through the adoption of new ideas, equipment, and methods, with benefits that could positively affect the UK economy as a whole. But a wider mechanism for processing and assessing the selected developments would be needed.

    Feb 8, 2019

  • Chinese ICBM missile with China flag graphic overlay, photo by Allexxandar/Getty Images

    Journal Article

    Of Bombs and Bureaucrats: Internal Drivers of Nuclear Force Building in China and the United States

    This article examines the domestic influences on US and Chinese nuclear forces. While strategic factors largely drive each side's, underappreciated domestic and organizational factors also influence outcomes.

    Feb 8, 2019

  • U.S. Air Force 36th Contingency Response Group Airmen speak with India Air Force subject matter experts at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, July 23, 2018, photo by Airman 1st Class Gerald Willis/U.S. Air Force

    Commentary

    How the U.S. Is Thinking About the Quad

    The United States has been consistent in discussing the security objectives it seeks to promote through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. But U.S. interactions with other Quad partners have likely convinced Washington to repackage public presentation of the dialogue proceedings and manage its expectations of what the Quad can realistically achieve.

    Feb 7, 2019

  • China's President Xi Jinping (C) meets with Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, August 30, 2018

    Testimony

    The Consolidation of Political Power in China Under Xi Jinping

    China has experienced a striking consolidation of power under President Xi Jinping. Three trends have affected the People's Liberation Army and have implications for China's domestic security forces. What considerations should U.S. defense planners and officials account for and monitor?

    Feb 7, 2019

  • Report

    Conceptual Design for a Multiplayer Security Force Assistance Strategy Game

    The authors explain the conceptual underpinnings and basic rules for a RAND-designed security force assistance strategy game. The game is a tool to explore the potential benefits and risks of different security force assistance strategies.

    Feb 7, 2019

  • President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un walk together before their working lunch during their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Hard to Predict Outcome of Second Trump-Kim Summit

    It's difficult to predict the outcome of the second summit between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump. At the first, Kim offered to fully denuclearize during President Trump's first term. But he continued building nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. If Kim keeps stalling, serious tensions could follow.

    Feb 6, 2019

  • A helicopter co-pilot reads a map en route to Playas Training Area, New Mexico during exercise Angel Thunder 2013, photo by Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

    Commentary

    America's National Defense Strategy and the Paradox of Technology

    The need for the military to make greater investments in technology is difficult if not impossible to separate from the risks posed by an increasing military reliance on this technology. Striking a balance between the two won't be easy.

    Feb 4, 2019

  • Binoculars on a map, photo by Angel_a/Getty Images

    Report

    The U.S. Department of Defense's Planning Process: Components and Challenges

    This report explores the current defense planning process used by the U.S. Department of Defense, with a focus on how scenarios are developed and employed to support defense planning.

    Feb 4, 2019

  • A map depicting Russian influence over Europe

    Report

    How to Counter Russia's Hostile Measures in Europe

    Russia has a range of tools and methods short of conventional war that it can use to achieve its goals in Europe. There is no way to predict what Russia will do, but it's possible to analyze its motives and opportunities, the means it might employ, and how the United States should respond.

    Jan 28, 2019

  • Syrian residents watch as U.S. troops patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria, November 4, 2018

    Commentary

    Intelligence Losses Pose Large Risks as U.S. Troops Head Home

    Departing theaters such as Syria and Afghanistan carries a host of associated risks, challenges and potential benefits. Leaders would be well served to factor into the debate the importance of U.S. intelligence collection capabilities, its connection to U.S. presence overseas and its role in anticipating current and future threats.

    Jan 24, 2019

  • Report

    Opportunities for European collaboration in armoured vehicles

    RAND Europe examined the scope for collaboration between European states in armoured vehicles (tracked, wheeled and protected transport vehicles) throughout their life-cycle, in support of the European Defence Agency (EDA).

    Jan 23, 2019

  • A U.S. Border Patrol agent at the San Ysidro port of entry from Mexico in San Diego, California, November 9, 2018

    Commentary

    Shutdown Could Provide Opening for Adversaries to Corrupt Those Protecting the U.S. Homeland

    Every day that the government shutdown continues prolongs the financial hardship for those on the front lines protecting the United States and gives cartels and transnational criminal organizations an opening to try to corrupt the DHS ranks. As negotiations continue to stall, the Trump administration and Congress should consider taking steps to guard against this vulnerability.

    Jan 22, 2019

  • Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence hold a bilateral meeting in Singapore, November 14, 2018

    Commentary

    Vietnam's Defense Policy of 'No' Quietly Saves Room for 'Yes'

    U.S.-China tensions are rising in the South China Sea. Washington should take solace in the fact that Vietnam's “Three Nos” policy actually offers significant breathing room for defense cooperation.

    Jan 21, 2019

  • Report

    Operating Under a Continuing Resolution: A Limited Assessment of Effects on Defense Procurement Contract Awards

    As described in this report, the authors developed an empirical basis for exploring policy issues pertaining to Department of Defense operations under a continuing resolution at the start of a fiscal year, which has become the norm in recent years.

    Jan 21, 2019

  • Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gesture as they hold Hezbollah flags in Marjayoun, Lebanon, May 7, 2018

    Commentary

    Helping Lebanon Succeed Is More Than About Countering Iran

    As tensions increase on the Israeli-Lebanese border the possibility is growing that a confrontation with Iran may move from Syria to Lebanon. For the United States, turning its back on this small but strategically critical country and conflating U.S. interests in Lebanon solely with countering Iran could be short-sighted, and a missed opportunity at a time when the region has few.

    Jan 16, 2019

  • A U.S. flag is seen at a post in Deh Bala district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, after U.S. and Afghan forces cleared Islamic State fighters from the area, July 7, 2018

    Report

    Likely Effects of a Precipitous U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    Winning may not be an option in Afghanistan, but an early departure of U.S. forces without a peace settlement will mean choosing to lose. The result will be the weakening of deterrence and the value of American reassurance elsewhere, an increased terrorist threat, and the possibility of having to return there under worse conditions.

    Jan 16, 2019

  • Accountability in Cyberspace: The Problem of Attribution

    Multimedia

    How to Achieve Accountability in Cyberspace

    Identifying the responsible party behind malicious cyber incidents is necessary for holding bad actors accountable. But there are many challenges that accompany cyber attribution. Creating an independent, global organization that investigates and publicly assigns blame for major hacks could help.

    Jan 14, 2019