National Security

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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. RAND's four U.S. federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) explore topics from acquisition and technology to personnel and readiness.

  • U.S. Army Soldiers provide security during a mission in Yarmouk, Iraq, July 2007, photo by Spc. Elisha Dawkins/U.S. Army

    Report

    Armies Have a Role to Play in Nation Building

    Oct 24, 2017

    Events in Iraq and Mali have raised questions about the value of Security Force Assistance and U.S. capacity to strengthen client states' militaries in the face of insurgencies or other threats. History shows that SFA programs could be improved if they focused more on ideology and how an army complements a host country's larger nation-building efforts.

  • Knights Brigade Soldiers take the oath of reenlistment in the courtyard of the Burg Lichtenberg castle in Kusel, Germany, April 1, 2016, photo by 1st Lt. Hannah Morgan/U.S. Army

    Report

    Promising Approaches to Army Institutional Change

    Dec 5, 2017

    The U.S. Army is facing many challenges. These include behavioral health issues, misconduct, and adjustment to changing demographics. Long-term solutions will require changes in Army culture and climate. Such changes are difficult, but promising strategies do exist.

Explore National Security

  • The Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, and the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, October 10, 2006

    Commentary

    Hidden Dangers of Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

    Moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would antagonize partners in the Islamic world who are key to fighting ISIS and other extremists. And any potential cooperation that might have developed between Israel and Arab states over common concerns about Iran could suffer.

    Dec 28, 2016

  • A sailor opens a network monitoring program during an exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, August 22, 2016

    Commentary

    America's Cyber Security Dilemma — and a Way Out

    The United States should continue to pursue international cooperation in cyberspace, improve its ability to identify and expose the sources of attacks, and improve its oversight of the development and adoption of cyber-related technologies.

    Dec 22, 2016

  • French police secure a street near a travel agency where a gunman took seven people hostage in a robbery, in Paris, France, December 2, 2016

    Commentary

    Crime and Terror in Europe: Where the Nexus Is Alive and Well

    The idea of a crime-terror nexus does appear to be a major threat in Europe, where terrorists and criminals now recruit from the same milieu. Coperation between European law enforcement and intelligence agencies is critical.

    Dec 15, 2016

  • Japan's Self Defence Force holds an opening ceremony of a new military base on the island of Yonaguni in the Okinawa prefecture, March 28, 2016

    Commentary

    The Risks of an Accelerating Rivalry Between China and Japan

    China and Japan have a long history of antagonism but their competition for influence in Asia has recently expanded in the economic, diplomatic, and security domains. The U.S., although a staunch ally of Japan, has served as a mediator. Weakening the U.S. role could aggravate Sino-Japanese tensions to a destabilizing degree.

    Dec 12, 2016

  • News Release

    China Invests Warily in Middle East

    China endeavors to protect its expanding interests in the Middle East by not taking sides in conflicts and controversies. The United States should encourage China to become more involved in efforts to improve regional stability while reassuring partners of its own commitment to the region.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 1, 2016

    Commentary

    Can Trump Make a Deal with Putin?

    If executed properly, President-elect Trump's diplomacy could help reverse a destabilizing downward spiral in U.S.-Russian relations and create a vision of what normal relations might entail.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • President Barack Obama meets with members of the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House, September 10, 2014

    Commentary

    Presidential Policy Directive 1: Forming the NSC

    If precedent holds, the National Security Council will be defined in the first policy directive that President Trump signs in the early weeks of his administration. Several important questions should be considered.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and UAE's deputy commander-in-chief of the armed forces, meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, December 14, 2015

    Report

    China Invests Warily in the Middle East

    China endeavors to protect its expanding interests in the Middle East by not taking sides in conflicts and controversies. The United States should encourage China to get more involved in efforts to improve regional stability while reassuring partners of its own commitment to the region.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • A Lithuanian army soldier holds the national flag during the NATO Force Integration Unit inauguration event in Vilnius, Lithuania, September 3, 2015

    Commentary

    'If You Want Peace, Prepare for Resistance'

    The government of Lithuania issued a guide on how its citizens can resist a potential Russian invasion and occupation. Resistance is a key element of the “Total Defense” strategy which all three Baltic states have been pursuing to varying degrees, spurred on by Russian aggression in Crimea and elsewhere.

    Nov 22, 2016

  • Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan meet to sign a bilateral agreement on construction of the TurkStream undersea gas pipeline in Istanbul, Turkey, October 10, 2016

    Commentary

    The Turkish-Russian Rapprochement: How Real? How Durable?

    The recent strengthening of ties between Turkey and Russia may represent more of an economic marriage of convenience than a deeply rooted political alliance. On a number of important issues, particularly the Syrian conflict, the two nations have very different interests and priorities.

    Nov 21, 2016

  • Donald Trump arrives at his election night rally at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan, November 9, 2016

    Commentary

    Can Trump Really Do Deals with Putin?

    Russia is a declining economic power whose foreign policy has led to isolation and criticism. But Putin may have an inflated sense of Russia's importance and expect one-sided U.S. concessions. If so, diplomacy could run into headwinds early in the Trump administration.

    Nov 21, 2016

  • A boy holds up a white flag in Mosul, Iraq, November 16, 2016

    Commentary

    What ISIS Leaves Behind in Mosul Will Reveal a Lot

    The capture of Mosul, Iraq, may produce a potential trove of information about how ISIS organized itself to run a large city. Collecting, analyzing, and disseminating this material will be a major effort, one of the most important as the city is liberated.

    Nov 18, 2016

  • Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and CFR Senior Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon at RAND's Politics Aside event in Santa Monica, November 12, 2016

    Blog

    The Return of a Cold War Threat

    The danger of blundering into a nuclear war through miscalculation or human error has returned, said former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry at RAND's Politics Aside event. No leader is seeking nuclear war, but there are new dangers that didn't exist during the Cold War that could lead to one.

    Nov 15, 2016

  • NSC Senior Director Maren Brooks, journalist Malcolm Gladwell, and Amb. Charles Ries at RAND's Politics Aside event in Santa Monica, November 12, 2016

    Blog

    Making National Security Decisions

    In a crisis, there's a tendency in government to add more people to address the problem, but doing so often slows decisionmaking. It's easier to invent something new rather than require the agency to fix problems in the existing structure.

    Nov 15, 2016

  • A worker reads a freshly printed newspaper with the headline reading "We will tremble" at a printer of the local daily Norte in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, November 9, 2016.

    Commentary

    Is the U.S. Abandoning the World Order It Created?

    In the 20th century the United States created and expanded a world order that has provided security and prosperity—and it has borne much of the cost for sustaining it. Can that liberal global order be updated rather than jettisoned?

    Nov 14, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (right) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during an arrival ceremony at the White House in Washington, September 25, 2015

    Commentary

    China's Actions Are Causing U.S. 'Militarization' of the Pacific

    Beijing's aggression in the Asia-Pacific is threatening key U.S. allies, causing America to respond. Any change in U.S. policy must be based on changes in Chinese behavior.

    Nov 3, 2016

  • A member of the Nusra Front squats in Ariha, Syria, after a coalition of insurgent groups seized the area, May 29, 2015

    Commentary

    Al Nusra Is Stronger Than Ever

    While the West targets ISIS, Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al Nusra, is quietly laying the groundwork for al Qaeda's resurgence.

    Nov 2, 2016

  • Report

    Assessment of the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) Program

    Assesses the Bureau of Justice Assistance's State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program, which provides various forms counterterrorism training to state, local, and tribal law enforcement personnel.

    Oct 28, 2016

  • Al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahri speaks from an unknown location in a still image taken from video uploaded to the web on June 8, 2011

    Commentary

    Al Qaeda's Ruthless Pragmatism Makes It More Dangerous Than the Islamic State

    Al Qaeda presents a graver long-term threat to the West than the Islamic State. It has proved more effective in exploiting U.S. policy in the Middle East to legitimize itself as an armed force and, increasingly, as a viable political player.

    Oct 27, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (center) poses for a photo with numerous Asian leaders before the East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos, September 8, 2016

    Commentary

    The Legacy Obama Leaves His Successor in Asia

    The U.S. pivot to the Indo-Pacific has improved U.S. popularity and influence, and positioned it for gains in regional economic, diplomatic, and military cooperation. The incoming administration would be wise to embrace these gains and build on them to preserve and further develop U.S. interests and influence in the region.

    Oct 26, 2016