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.

  • Military aircraft participate in an exercise near Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 9, 2021, photo by SrA Duncan Bevan/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Managing Escalation While Competing Effectively in the Indo-Pacific

    In response to China's expanding military activity in the Indo-Pacific, the United States has increased its activity in the region over the past decade. How can America continue to safeguard its interests while limiting potential risks of escalation with China?

    Nov 30, 2022

  • Russia claims to have successfully test-launched its nuclear-capable Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile in Plesetsk, Russian Federation, in this photo released by the Russian Ministry of Defence, April 20, 2022, photo by Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Putin's Nuclear Gambit Is a Huge Mistake

    Russia is losing in Ukraine, and the rhetoric of Russian leaders has recently become ever more apocalyptic. The United States and its allies should be prepared in case Russia goes down the nuclear path, but fear should not drive the Western response to Russia's nuclear bluster.

    Oct 19, 2022

Explore Threat Assessment

  • U.S. Air Force aircraft in a capabilities demonstration in honor of the U.S. Air Force's 75th Anniversary at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, August 12, 2022, photo by Tech. Sgt. Timothy Moore/U.S. Air Force

    Report

    Bolstering U.S. Air Bases Against Chinese and Russian Attacks

    There's a growing consensus that China and Russia represent major threats to U.S. interests and there are calls to counter the threats cost-effectively. Air base resilience requires close familiarity with the threat, a systematic approach for addressing it, and sustained efforts to build on investments in protection.

    Jan 17, 2023

  • A U.S. Air Force and a Republic of Korea air force F-35A Lighting II aircraft soar in a tight formation over Korea

    Research Brief

    Managing the Escalation Risks of U.S. Military Activities in the Indo-Pacific

    This brief describes how the United States can select and shape its military activities in the Indo-Pacific region to deter Chinese aggression against U.S. allies and partners while also limiting the risks of escalatory Chinese reactions.

    Jan 12, 2023

  • Drift ice camp in the middle of the Arctic Ocean as seen from the deck of icebreaker Xue Long, July 2010, photo by Timo Palo/Wikimedia Commons

    Essay

    What Does China's Arctic Presence Mean to the United States?

    China has declared itself a “near-Arctic state,” a designation it invented to push for a greater role in Arctic governance. Although the U.S. sees China as a potentially destabilizing force, engaging with China in the Arctic does not have to be a win-or-lose proposition. There are opportunities to cooperate—on climate change, for example, or pollution control.

    Dec 29, 2022

  • Magnifying glass showing terrorism warnings expanded text on a newspaper, photo by brightstars/Getty Images

    Commentary

    The Intelligence Community Doesn't Warn About All Attacks Against the U.S. Homeland. Why Not?

    Targets for foreign threats against the United States increasingly include entities that are not part of the U.S. government or military. But too many of these potential victims are unaware of threats against them, are not warned with intelligence reporting about such threats, and lack information about options to protect themselves.

    Oct 21, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Microchips, Ukraine, Outer Space: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how safeguarding Taiwan is the answer to America's microchip problem, a moment of clarity in Ukraine, new rules in space, and more.

    Oct 7, 2022

  • Multiracial group of teenagers sitting on school steps looking at the camera, photo by Daniel de la Hoz/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Ways to Help Students Report Threats to Their School

    When students or others don't know how to report a threat or aren't willing to do so, important opportunities to protect students may be missed. Schools receive little guidance about how to implement an effective reporting program or how to build a robust reporting culture. A recent research effort helps to fill this gap, highlighting seven key implications for school safety planning.

    Sep 29, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    A Methodology for Quantifying the Value of Cybersecurity Investments in the Navy

    Researchers developed a methodology to assess the value of resource options for U.S. Navy cybersecurity investments. The proposed methodology enables the Navy to rationalize the cost-effectiveness of potential investments within the POM process.

    Sep 28, 2022

  • A citizen scientist examines the aftermath of a wildfire

    Report

    Harnessing the Power of Science and Technology Communities for Crisis Response

    In this Perspective, RAND researchers describe how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security could leverage science and technology communities to support the use of science, technology, innovation, and analytical capabilities during crisis response.

    Sep 19, 2022

  • A memorial site outside Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, after a 15-year-old allegedly killed four classmates and injured seven others on November 30, 2021, photo by Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP

    Essay

    How to Prevent, Prepare for, and Respond to Mass Attacks

    A new step-by-step guide can help communities prevent shootings and other mass attacks before they happen, and save lives when they do. It's written for a variety of public- and private-sector audiences—everyone from emergency responders and school officials to security personnel and community leaders.

    Aug 30, 2022

  • Kim Jong-un watches a military parade in Pyongyang to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean People's Revolutionary Army in this image released by KCNA on April 26, 2022, photo by EyePress via Reuters

    Report

    The Risks of North Korean Weapons of Mass Destruction

    In addition to its nuclear weapons, North Korea has amassed chemical, biological, and electromagnetic pulse weapons. It has also created an active cyber hacker force. What can the United States and South Korea do to deter and, if necessary, counter these threats?

    Aug 29, 2022

  • Enrique Tarrio and the Proud Boys demonstrate near Freedom Plaza during the Million Maga March protest regarding election results, in Washington, D.C., November 14, 2020, photo by MediaPunch Inc/Alamy

    Research Brief

    A U.S. National Strategy Is Needed to Counter Violent Extremism

    Users in the United States are overwhelmingly responsible for racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism (REMVE) discourse online. Strategies that focus on organizations or individuals likely will not work to counter REMVE because the movement is diffuse and leaderless.

    Aug 22, 2022

  • Blue binary code and blue swirling lines, photo by metamorworks/Getty Images

    Report

    Preparing for Post-Quantum Critical Infrastructure

    Quantum computers are expected to create vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure. How vulnerable are critical functions, such as distributing electricity and protecting sensitive information? And how can the government help infrastructure owners and operators?

    Aug 18, 2022

  • A Board of Elections employee cleans a voting machine during early voting at the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, October 29, 2020, photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    Report

    Securing U.S. Elections

    Election systems across U.S. states and jurisdictions are diverse in terms of governance and technology. How can state and local officials effectively assess and prioritize cybersecurity risk in the systems they oversee?

    Aug 16, 2022

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard near the site where Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. strike over the weekend, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    After the al-Zawahiri Strike, the U.S. May Lack Capabilities in Afghanistan

    The U.S. drone strike that killed al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan took out one of the last remaining key figures behind the 9/11 terror attacks. But it also highlighted how little the United States got out of its 2020 bargain with the Taliban, and raised questions about the U.S. ability to adequately monitor the developing threat from this quarter going forward.

    Aug 3, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Talking to Russia, Racial Bias, Mine-Hunting Dolphins: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on preventing escalation of the war in Ukraine, how racial bias compounds over time, why the Navy should stick with its mine-hunting dolphins, and more.

    Jul 29, 2022

  • U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov in a Ukraine Defence Contact group meeting in Brussels, Belgium, June 15, 2022, photo by Yves Herman/Pool/Reuters

    Report

    Potential Pathways to Russian Escalation Against NATO

    A Russia-NATO war is far from an inevitable outcome of the current conflict in Ukraine. U.S. and allied policymakers should be concerned with specific pathways and potential triggers, but they need not operate under the assumption that every action will entail acute escalation risks.

    Jul 26, 2022

  • Painted stones are placed at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, July 13, 2022, photo by Kaylee Greenlee Beal/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Toolkit for Avoiding Mass Shootings

    RAND has developed an online educational toolkit to provide practical strategies and guidance on deterring, mitigating, and responding to mass attacks. Research highlights three top ways to mitigate and/or respond to mass attacks right now: through proactive prevention, relentless follow-up, and diligent preparation and training.

    Jul 14, 2022

  • A soldier sits atop a U.S. tank at the Yuma proving ground with orange clouds of dust behind them.

    Tool

    Forecasting Demand for U.S. Ground Forces: An Interactive Tool

    This interactive tool uses a dynamic forecasting model to project future demand for U.S. ground forces. The resulting forecasts can help inform U.S. military decisions regarding future force planning, posture, and investments.

    Jul 6, 2022