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.

  • A map of the continental United States is shown with lines representing COVID-19 importation risk

    Project

    Tracking the Spread of COVID-19 with Air Travel Data

    Jun 5, 2020

    As the pandemic enters a new phase, punctuated by emerging hot spots and continuing global spread, a new RAND tool lets policymakers predict regional risks of importing cases of COVID-19.

  • Sign that says Fort Bragg, Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces, photo by U.S. Army

    Report

    How to Protect Army Installations from Emerging Threats

    Nov 10, 2020

    Emerging technologies such as drones, 5G communications, smart city systems, and the use of social media disinformation by adversaries all pose potential threats to U.S. Army bases. A new framework can help assess possible solutions and the resources required to defend against these threats.

Explore Threat Assessment

  • 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

    Rethinking the U.S. Approach to the World

    Questions about U.S. grand strategy and its associated costs have taken on new urgency because of the economic effects of the pandemic. If the United States adopted a realist grand strategy of restraint, it would cooperate more with other powers, reduce its forward military presence, and end some security commitments.

    Jan 21, 2021

  • Strategies for Denuclearization

    Multimedia

    Strategies for Pushing North Korea Toward Denuclearization

    RAND policy analyst Soo Kim and RAND senior defense analyst Bruce Bennett discuss strategies for pushing the Kim administration toward denuclearization.

    Jan 15, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Cyber Threats to NATO from a Multi-Domain Perspective

    This paper situates cyber threats in the wider context of evolving multi-domain operations (MDO) theory and practice.

    Jan 12, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Impact of New and Emerging Technologies on the Cyber Threat Landscape and Their Implications for NATO

    This paper discusses a selection of new and emerging technologies with potentially disruptive effects, particularly concerning cyber threats that may stem from their maturation and use over the next decade.

    Jan 12, 2021

  • Supporters of the outgoing president, Donald Trump, climb a wall during a deadly mob assault on the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2021, January 6, 2021, photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Battle of Capitol Hill

    The deadly mob assault on the U.S. Capitol Building was a predictable possibility. Democracy held, but security failed, spectacularly. We need to be better prepared for future acts of political violence.

    Jan 11, 2021

  • A boy with followers of the Houthi movement carries a rifle during a rally to commemorate the Ashura, the holiest day for Shi'ite Muslims, in Sanaa, Yemen, August 30, 2020, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    Commentary

    Yemen's Chaos Creates a New Opportunity for the Biden-Harris Team

    More than one-quarter million Yemenis have been killed in the nation's civil war. And 150,000 children have died from starvation and left Yemen on the brink of collapse. The foundations of peace must be Yemeni-led, but there is much that the new U.S. administration could do to support the process.

    Nov 24, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    Counter-Radicalization Bot Research: Using Social Bots to Fight Violent Extremism

    As the online recruitment of violent extremist organizations grows, the U.S. government may benefit from promising emerging technology tools to rapidly detect targets of such recruitment efforts and deliver counter-radicalization content to them.

    Oct 8, 2020

  • People line up to cast their ballots for the upcoming presidential election as early voting begins in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 6, 2020, photo by Megan Jelinger/Reuters

    Commentary

    Will There Be Domestic Terrorism During Election Season?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has roiled the elections. The United States is deeply divided and the political system is polarized. Under these fraught circumstances, even a minor event can have far-reaching repercussions. What are the prospects for domestic terrorism in the context of U.S. elections?

    Oct 7, 2020

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    The American Jihad Was a Failure. For Those Who Joined, It Was a Path to Destruction

    To keep the jihad going after 9/11, al Qaeda exhorted homegrown terrorists to take up arms in the United States. ISIS later made similar appeals. These calls to arms yielded some plots and a few attacks, but overall, the American jihad was a failure.

    Sep 23, 2020

  • Passengers on a flight, photo by vovashevchuk/Getty Images

    Report

    COVID-19 Was Spreading Globally for Weeks Before It Was Declared a Pandemic

    Worldwide exports of COVID-19 cases began increasing at an accelerating rate on February 19, 2020. That was three weeks before the World Health Organization declared the pandemic. By the end of February, nearly 40 cases per week were spreading around the globe via air travel.

    Sep 22, 2020

  • Airplane about to land on a runway in Cape Town, South Africa, photo by brazzo/Getty Images

    Report

    Which African Countries Are Most at Risk of Importing COVID-19?

    U.S. forces in Africa are usually in unstable areas that have low levels of international air travel. Those regions are less likely to import COVID-19. The near-term driver of COVID-19 risk in Africa will more likely be the flow of travelers from Western Europe to Morocco, South Africa, and Algeria.

    Sep 22, 2020

  • Blog

    Wildfires, America's Wealth Gap, Screening for COVID-19 at Work: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the growing risk of wildfires, how Americans' incomes have grown (or not), workplace screenings for COVID-19 symptoms, and more.

    Sep 18, 2020

  • Smoke superimposed over a mass grave of ISIS fighters found in 2017 near Fallujah, Iraq, photos by Iraqi ministry of defence and Marina/Adobe Stock; design by Peter Soriano/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Who Are America's Jihadists?

    U.S. residents who plotted to carry out jihadist attacks at home and those who traveled or attempted to travel to join jihadists abroad represent two dimensions of the terrorist threat. But both types are driven by internal motivations and circumstances as much as they are inspired by external groups.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Silhouette of several militants with rifles, photo by zabelin/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Are Counter Violent Extremism Interventions Effective?

    Government efforts to counter the propaganda and radicalization that lead to violent extremism are becoming more common around the world, but there's little research on whether such programs work. It is critical to conduct more research to tease out which programs are most effective.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Osama bin Laden (L) sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a secret location in Afghanistan, November 10, 2001, photo by Hamid Mir/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is Ayman al-Zawahiri Really the Future of Al-Qaida?

    Nineteen years after 9/11, al Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has yet to achieve the household notoriety evoked by his immediate predecessor, Osama bin Laden. But even though Zawahiri has conjured less of a personality cult, al Qaida's current leader is just as dangerous to the United States as its old one.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • A man wearing a t-shirt with an image of Zakir Rashid Bhat, the leader of an al Qaeda affiliated militant group in Kashmir, in Dadasara, Kashmir, May 24, 2019, photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is al Qaida Still a Threat?

    Nineteen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, does al Qaida still pose a significant threat to U.S. national security? Among researchers, military and intelligence officials, and policymakers who study the group, there is little consensus. An accurate assessment of al Qaida's organizational health must take into account the group's recent and dramatic resurrection.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • A member of the Three Percent militia in downtown Stone Mountain, Georgia, where various militia groups stage rallies, August 15, 2020, photo by Dustin Chambers/Reuters

    Commentary

    Could 2020 Spawn '70s-Style Radicalization and Violence?

    The U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic has further cleaved an already deeply divided society. The conditions facing the United States today are reminiscent of those that gave rise to the radicalism of the 1970s and could once again lead to political violence, including terrorism.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • Blog

    Preparing for a COVID-19 Election, Hurricane Response, North Korea: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on preparing for a COVID-19 election, how the pandemic is affecting artists, North Korea's deadly artillery, and more.

    Aug 7, 2020