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

  • Tech. Sgt. Rosa Valdes and Staff Sgt. Rebecca Toland, non-destructive inspection technicians from the 140th Maintenance Squadron, perform an inspection of the 446 bulkhead on a block-30 F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. The 446 bulkhead is aft fuselage structure of the F-16 aircraft that supports the tail structure and recent tests have indicated an increased amount of stress cracks in this area, photo by Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer/U.S. Air National Guard

    Report

    Wing-Level Mission Assurance for a Cyber-Contested Environment

    The authors offer ways to help wings assure their missions despite cyber attacks, focusing on how wings can maintain situational awareness, defend their systems, and respond to and recover from attacks to survive and operate when under cyber attack.

    Dec 9, 2021

  • A woman with a smartphone is seen in front of social media logos, May 25, 2021, photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Report

    Understanding the Online Extremist Ecosystem

    By the early 2010s, it was clear that the internet provided white supremacists and other extremists a tool to operationalize their hateful ideas and cause real-world harms. How can the average user understand their risk of exposure to extremist content and make informed decisions about the platforms they use?

    Dec 2, 2021

  • Blog

    News Manipulation, the Risk of Civil War, Russia and Ukraine: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on tracking news manipulation during the pandemic, the threat of another civil war, preventing health insurance loss, and more.

    Nov 19, 2021

  • A cyclist rides along fencing surrounding the U.S. Capitol that was erected in the wake of the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., July 8, 2021, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    Politicians Face Violence and Threats from Voters—and Each Other. Are We Nearing a Civil War?

    Does America's increasingly uncivil behavior mean we are heading toward civil war? The historical record seems to indicate that the country has a high tolerance for violence without breaking apart. But the threat of civil wars cannot be dismissed.

    Nov 15, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Analysis of Russian Irregular Threats

    The authors of this report describe strategic global trends related to Russian global influence and behavior and provide an overview and assessment of hostile activities that Russia has undertaken in the face of these trends.

    Nov 8, 2021

  • A member of the local Explosives and Ordnance Division wearing a specialized suit tries to install a water diffuser to an improvised explosive device during a bomb drill in a high school courtyard in Manila, Philippines, July 14, 2017, photo by Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

    Commentary

    Defining 'Terrorism' Is the First Step to Defeating It

    Western policy- and decisionmakers continue to grapple with how to define acts of terrorism and when it is appropriate to bring terrorism charges. Establishing a consensus on the definition of terrorism and bringing to center stage the importance of adequately charging acts of terrorism could be more important than ever.

    Nov 8, 2021

  • Fort Leonard Wood senior leaders take part in training as part of the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence extremism stand-down in March 2021, photo by Tiffany Wood/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Help, Not Just Hunt, Violent Extremists in the Military

    The Pentagon is working to rid itself of violent extremist members. In addition to strengthening the chain of command to detect and remove extremist members from its ranks, the military could also empower military family members to intervene.

    Aug 5, 2021

  • 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