Security Cooperation

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The NATO alliance served its participants well in countering the strategic threat once posed by the Soviet Union, but the rise of other regional powers and coalitions since end of the Cold War has prompted a reevaluation of existing alliances. RAND research has provided policymakers with essential information on how best to forge new defense cooperation agreements and strengthen old alliances to counter emerging security threats.

  • 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

    Aug 29, 2019

    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?

  • A U.S. soldier marches, followed by troops from various NATO countries, during a ceremony of the transfer of command in Herat, Afghanistan, May 31, 2005, photo by Ahmad Fahim/Reuters

    Testimony

    The U.S.-European Partnership Since World War II

    Mar 26, 2019

    The relationship between the United States and Europe has advanced U.S. and global security since the end of World War II. The partnership has benefited the United States several times, including during the post-Cold War period, the years after the September 11 attacks, and the current era of strategic competition with Russia and China.

Explore Security Cooperation

  • 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 soldier stands guard near a poster of Syria's President Bashar al Assad and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Rastan, Syria, June 6, 2018

    Commentary

    Confusion Over the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria

    Washington's strategy in Syria has been to impose costs on the Syrian government by diplomatic ostracism and economic sanctions. This punitive approach is morally satisfying and politically expedient, but as a practical matter it just helps perpetuate the conflict and sustain Assad's dependency on Iran.

    Jan 9, 2019

  • A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel rides on a truck with a mounted weapon at Manbij countryside, Syria, December 28, 2018

    Commentary

    The United States Can't Rely on Turkey to Defeat ISIS

    Relying on Turkey to shoulder the burden of countering the Islamic State will provide the terrorist group with an opportunity to revive itself at a critical stage in the fight. Turkey's main focus is on the Kurds and Erdogan's opposition. Eradicating the Islamic State is a secondary priority that has often been ignored.

    Jan 2, 2019

  • A train launched to operate on the Standard Gauge Railway line constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation and financed by Chinese government arrives at the Nairobi Terminus on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, May 31, 2017

    Commentary

    The Good and Bad of the Trump Administration's New Africa Strategy

    The Trump administration's Africa strategy combines a turn away from counterterrorism as a priority, emphasis on trade, and working to help Africans solve their own problems, all of which could be opportunities for a more positive relationship. The implied prioritization of great power competition, however, suggests the real risk of a return to Cold War-era approach.

    Dec 20, 2018

  • NATO Chiefs of Defense meet during the NATO Military Committee Conference at Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, September 28, 2018

    Commentary

    NATO Needs a European Level of Ambition

    As NATO finalizes its new political guidance designed to shape future military forces, it has the chance to both strengthen Europe’s commitment to burden-sharing and relieve American concern about the creation of a new European Army. Building an enhanced European capacity within NATO entails some risk, but the benefits may outweigh concerns.

    Dec 10, 2018

  • A Russian cargo ship beneath a bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula after three Ukrainian navy vessels were stopped by Russia from entering the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea, Crimea, November 25, 2018

    Commentary

    No Russian Let-Up on Ukraine

    Moscow's seizure of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine have led the West to sanction Russians and expand aid to Ukraine, and NATO to shift land and air forces eastward. Expanded Russian coercion may draw more NATO naval power closer to Russia's shores and lead to tougher sanctions.

    Dec 7, 2018

  • A U.S. soldier takes part in a defense exercise with British and Lithuanian soldiers in Mikyciai, Lithuania, June 17, 2017

    Report

    Rethinking the U.S. Approach to Force Planning

    The force planning standard used since the end of the Cold War is ill-suited for today. Force planning should focus on modernizing the capabilities and posture of U.S. forces to better enable them to deter and defeat aggression by China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Salafist-jihadi groups.

    Nov 28, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 20, 2018

    Commentary

    Could America Use Its Leverage to Alter the Saudis' Behavior?

    As the Saudis' chief political and military partner and the undisputed security guarantor in the Middle East, the United States has considerable influence it can wield over Saudi decisionmaking. The Trump administration could consider using its influence to encourage Saudi leadership to moderate its assertive and damaging policies abroad.

    Nov 15, 2018

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend a farewell ceremony at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone, South Korea, April 27, 2018

    Multimedia

    Potential Paths to Korean Unification

    In this Call with the Experts podcast, RAND senior international/defense researcher Bruce Bennett discusses several potential paths to Korean unification. Lisa Sodders and Khorshied Samad from the RAND Office of Media Relations moderate.

    Nov 14, 2018

  • Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, April 4, 2018

    Commentary

    Is Major Realignment Taking Place in the Middle East?

    The shifting alignments in the Middle East have intensified since the murder of the Saudi journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul. Turkey has drifted away from NATO and toward Iran and Russia. Like Tehran and Moscow, Ankara is now more anti-Western than at any point in recent memory. What does this mean for the United States?

    Oct 31, 2018

  • Cameroonian President Paul Biya casts his ballot while his wife Chantal Biya watches at a polling station during the presidential election in Yaounde, Cameroon October 7, 2018

    Commentary

    Cameroon's Days as Reliable U.S. Partner May Be Numbered

    The Cameroonian government is becoming more authoritarian under President Paul Biya. His re-election could be bad news for Cameroon and the region, but also for the United States.

    Oct 26, 2018

  • Report

    Pacific Engagement: Forging Tighter Connections Between Tactical Security Cooperation Activities and U.S. Strategic Goals in the Asia-Pacific Region

    This report examines U.S. Army security cooperation (SC) processes in the Pacific Command area of responsibility to forge stronger links between strategic and tactical levels in the planning and execution of SC activities.

    Oct 23, 2018

  • China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea, December, 2016

    Commentary

    The Quad Needs Broadening to Balance China—And Now's the Time to Do It

    Even in its resurrected form, the Quad could be in danger of failing to achieve its mission. The Quad might consider getting its house in order by extending dialogue partnerships to ASEAN maritime counterclaimant states.

    Oct 22, 2018

  • Participants speak during a coffee break at Africa Endeavor 2018 in Santa Maria, Sal, Cabo Verde

    Commentary

    Partner Capacity-Building's Next Phase—Embracing Civil Works?

    The way ahead for civil works capacity-building is not without its challenges. But in places that are plagued by extremist violence and irregular warfare, fostering civil society's trust and confidence isn't just an added benefit. It could instead be a targeted outcome.

    Oct 16, 2018

  • Ukrainian army landing craft Yurii Olefirenko in the Black Sea during military drills in the Kherson Region, Ukraine, September 29, 2018

    Commentary

    Russia's Neighbors Want Alternatives

    The longer Russia delays in improving relations with its neighbors, the more likely they will pursue alternative options. It is also likely that tensions will persist between those neighbors and Russia—and in Russia's relationship with the West. Efforts to ease that tension should be high on the list of Western priorities with Russia.

    Oct 4, 2018

  • A 2016 Amphibious Landing Exercise between the U.S. Marine Corps and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force

    Report

    U.S.-Japan Alliance Conference: Meeting the Challenge of Amphibious Operations

    In March 2018, the RAND Corporation convened a conference to examine the establishment of an Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade within the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

    Sep 27, 2018

  • Chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi makes a speech during a ceremony to receive locally-produced yellowcake, in Isfahan, Iran, December 5, 2010

    Commentary

    Can U.S. Pressure Lead to a New Iran Nuclear Deal?

    It could be a mistake for the United States to assume that more pressure will bring Iran closer to ending or reducing its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. When it comes to measures aimed at Iran's nuclear program, more pressure could worsen nuclear risks and further drive a wedge between the United States and its European allies.

    Sep 18, 2018

  • Soldiers of the Burkina Faso Army stand at attention at Camp Zagre, Burkina Faso, on February 27, 2017, at the opening of Flintlock 2017. The annual exercise, sponsored by the U.S. Africa Command, aims to strengthen security institutions, promote multilateral information sharing, and develop interoperability among partner nations in the Trans-Sahara region.

    Research Brief

    How to Reform Security Sector Assistance in Africa

    U.S.-provided security sector assistance (SSA) in Africa has largely failed to achieve its goals. Substantial changes are required if SSA is to have the impact the United States intends. These changes need to be made in strategies, programs, and evaluations.

    Sep 13, 2018

  • U.S. Army soldiers and members from the Zambian Defense Force work together during a daytime tactical movement at exercise Southern Accord 15 in Lusaka, Zambia, August 5, 2015

    Report

    Effects of U.S. Security Sector Assistance in Africa

    U.S.-provided security sector assistance in Africa has had a mixed record since the Cold War. But when implemented along with peacekeeping operations, U.S. assistance has had a positive impact on outcomes like the incidence of civil wars, terrorist attacks, and state repression.

    Sep 13, 2018

  • Report

    A Developmental Approach to Building Sustainable Security-Sector Capacity in Africa

    In this report, RAND researchers analyze options and recommend changes to improve the sustainability of security sector assistance in African partner nations, deriving insights from the development community.

    Sep 13, 2018