Threat Assessment

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Researchers collaborate across disciplines at RAND to evaluate terrorist, military, nuclear, cyber, and other threats to U.S. national security—identifying emerging threats, scrutinizing known risks, and evaluating potential strategic and tactical responses. Recent studies have included examinations of ISIS, Iran's nuclear capabilities, and insider threats.

  • Connected dotted lines representing a network, image by liuzishan/Getty Images

    Report

    New Model Helps Predict Cyber Threats and Improve Resilience

    May 11, 2021

    Today's evolving cyber threats require a tailored and targeted approach to cybersecurity. Current defenses focus on managing threats after a network has been breached. RAND's Scalable Warning and Resilience Model (SWARM) can help defenders proactively protect their systems through early warning of cyber incidents before they occur.

  • Woman interviewing for a job, photo by fizkes/Getty Images

    Report

    Updating Personnel Vetting and Security Clearance Guidelines for Future Generations

    Mar 11, 2021

    The United States could face challenges with recruiting and retaining younger generations into positions that require a security clearance. What trends and social changes might the federal government consider when updating personnel vetting guidelines?

Explore Threat Assessment

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army soldiers demonstrate their capabilities to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen in China, July 12, 2011, photo by MC1 Chad J. McNeeley/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

    Commentary

    The Signal and the Noise: Understanding China's Military Threats

    Although China's capabilities and communication channels have changed, its fundamental approach to military deterrence signaling as a form of political coercion has not. As Australia-China relations enter a new, more confrontational era, Canberra is likely to be an increasingly frequent target of Chinese deterrence signaling.

    Jun 29, 2021

  • U.S. Army soldiers participate in a parade in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2013, photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    The Link Between Extremism and Military Functioning

    U.S. Department of Defense policy prohibits service members from actively participating in extremist activities. Broadening the policy to include passive forms of participation could introduce two challenges.

    May 20, 2021

  • A driver walks to his car near an empty gas pump in Falls Church, Virginia, May 12, 2021, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is DarkSide Really Sorry? Is It Even DarkSide?

    The U.S. military relies heavily on commercial energy assets, making the implications of events like the Colonial Pipeline outage more serious than just higher prices at the gas pump. The origins and severity of an attack dictate what the United States might do in response.

    May 19, 2021

  • Clock with navigation marker and satellite orbiting Earth, images by petrovv and janiecbros/Getty Images

    Report

    Weighing the Costs of GPS Disruption and Developing Backup Capabilities

    The Global Positioning System (GPS) has a key role in national positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT), but it is far from the only source of capability for PNT. Would national investment in GPS backup capabilities be warranted, given the potential threats to its functioning?

    May 17, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Through the Looking Glass: Chinese Open Source Assessments of North Korea's Ballistic Missile Capabilities

    This report examines Chinese assessments of North Korean ballistic missile capabilities between 1998 and 2017. Chinese analyses mirror Western conclusions that North Korea has a functional ICBM that can reach the U.S. with a nuclear weapon.

    May 14, 2021

  • A protester is detained inside the U.S. Capitol as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump protest outside, in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2021, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Capitol Rioters Face FBI Arrests and Prosecution. How Not to Make Them Martyrs in the Process

    The righteous wrath of those who view January 6 as an insurrection and believe we need uncompromising prosecution is understandable. But is it strategic thinking? History has shown that prosecutions based on less severe and politically-fraught charges have a greater chance of resulting in the convictions needed to stop this behavior.

    May 14, 2021

  • An employee works on final assembly of ventilators at Ventec Life Systems, in Bothell, Washington, March 18, 2020, photo by Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

    Commentary

    Supply Chains and National Security

    The many pandemic-related shortages that occurred in the United States and elsewhere provide a clear warning. Serious supply-chain vulnerabilities exist. We need to learn much more about this potential threat to national security.

    May 11, 2021

  • South Korean soldiers coordinate fires during a joint artillery exercise with U.S. soldiers near the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea, May 10, 2016, photo by Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson/U.S. Army

    Report

    The State of Deterrence in Korea and the Taiwan Strait

    The United States and South Korea have a robust military presence on the Korean Peninsula that, at a minimum, would make any effort by North Korea to reunify the nations by force extremely costly. In contrast, the state of U.S. deterrence with regard to Chinese aggression against Taiwan is mixed.

    Apr 19, 2021

  • Blog

    COVID-19 Demographic Trends, Vaccinating 'High-Contact' People, the Iran Threat Network: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how the pandemic is shaping demographic trends, targeting vaccines to "high-contact" people, the Iran Threat Network, and more.

    Apr 16, 2021

  • Houthi fighters during a gathering of Houthi loyalists on the outskirts of Sanaa, Yemen, July 8, 2020, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    Report

    Understanding the Iran Threat Network

    The Iran Threat Network is a formidable force of tens of thousands of fighters from non-Iranian, nonstate proxy and partner groups. How does this network factor into Tehran's political and military strategy?

    Apr 14, 2021

  • A member of the white nationalist type group National Socialist Movement attends a rally at the state capital in Little Rock, Arkansas, November 10, 2018, photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

    Commentary

    Human Intelligence: The Key to Ferreting Out Extremism in the Ranks

    The U.S. military is fighting extremism—including white supremacists and violent anti-government radicals—in its own ranks. De-radicalized former extremists can provide crucial first-hand intelligence on extremist groups' recruiting tactics.

    Mar 18, 2021

  • Blog

    COVID-19 Testing in Schools, Family Caregivers, U.S. Entrepreneurship: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on COVID-19 testing in schools, giving a voice to family caregivers, preparing for daylight saving time, and more.

    Mar 12, 2021

  • Blog

    Reducing Hospital Prices, Vaccinating the Most Active, Myanmar: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on regulating hospital prices to cut spending, a COVID-19 vaccine strategy that prioritizes “active” people, what the Capitol attack means for security clearances, and more.

    Feb 19, 2021

  • Security fencing surrounds the U.S. Capitol days after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building, in Washington, January 11, 2021, photo by Erin Scott/Reuters

    Commentary

    What the Capitol Siege Means for the Future of Security Clearances

    Some people who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 had or have a national security clearance and thus trusted access to classified information. And some might apply for a security clearance in the future. If they are not identified and prosecuted, then they won't have a criminal record that could be detected in a background check.

    Feb 2, 2021

  • National Guardmen on U.S. Capitol security detail in Washington, DC, January 11, 2021, photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht/U.S. Air National Guard

    Commentary

    How to Root Out Extremism in the U.S. Military

    The military has a growing extremism problem because America does. Service members who embrace violent extremism are thankfully few; Americans citizens who do so are sadly far too many. As a nation we need to deal with both.

    Feb 1, 2021

  • Supporters of Donald Trump scale a wall as they storm the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021, photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Commentary

    Domestic Violent Extremists Will Be Harder to Combat Than Homegrown Jihadists

    The beliefs driving today's domestic extremists are deeply rooted in American history and society. For this and several other reasons, shutting them down will prove far more difficult than combating homegrown jihadists.

    Feb 1, 2021

  • News Release

    News Release

    Interest in a U.S. Grand Strategy of Restraint May Be Growing, So Advocates Need to Provide More Details

    As the Biden Administration takes over, some U.S. policymakers have expressed interest in a new approach to America's role in the world: a realist grand strategy of restraint under which the U.S. would cooperate more with other powers, reduce its forward military presence and end or renegotiate some security commitments.

    Jan 22, 2021

  • A world map puzzle with a piece on top, photo by Yuriy Panyukov/Adobe Stock

    Report

    A U.S. Grand Strategy of Restraint

    Some U.S. policymakers have expressed interest in a realist grand strategy of restraint. Under this approach, the United States would cooperate more with other powers, reduce its forward military presence, and end or renegotiate some security commitments. What are the policy implications of embarking down this path?

    Jan 21, 2021