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.

  • 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

    Jul 26, 2022

    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.

  • 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

    Jul 14, 2022

    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.

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  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Developing a U.S. Strategy for Dealing with China — Now and into the Future

    U.S. military strategy in Asia should include a framework that allows the United States and China to pursue common and individual goals, deters China's use of force to intimidate its neighbors, and postures U.S. forces to support partner militaries.

    Sep 2, 2014

  • Service members from participating nations salute during the opening ceremony of Khaan Quest 2014, a multinational exercise designed to promote regional peace and security. It is co-sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and hosted annually by Mongolian Armed Forces.

    Report

    Key U.S. Military, Diplomatic Strategies Are Necessary to Balance China's Growing Regional Strength

    Developing a strategy for the United States to address China's growing military strength should not sacrifice future cooperation between the two nations. A U.S. policy could recognize China's expanding importance in the world and its legitimate interests, while also keeping U.S. commitments to allies and partners in the region.

    Sep 2, 2014

  • Members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution about the ongoing crisis in Iraq at UN headquarters in New York

    Commentary

    Foreign Fighters Are a Global Threat

    The threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters cannot be resolved by the United States, or any ally, working alone. It calls for broad international cooperation on law enforcement, intelligence sharing and other areas for many years to come. The road ahead will be hard, but it's best to begin now with action by the UN Security Council.

    Aug 25, 2014

  • Andrew Parasiliti

    Blog

    Andrew Parasiliti Named Director of Center for Global Risk and Security at RAND

    Andrew Parasiliti, former editor in chief of Al-Monitor.com, has been named director of the Center for Global Risk and Security. Previously, he served as executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies-US and Corresponding Director, IISS-Middle East.

    Aug 18, 2014

  • Airline passengers wait in line before passing through a TSA checkpoint at LAX

    Commentary

    TSA's Cellphone Rule Part of Deadly Race

    While placing explosives inside a cellphone is plausible, it is almost impossible to do so with iPhones without rendering them non-functional, which is why the TSA is now checking cell phones are actually working.

    Jul 29, 2014

  • A U.S. Department of Homeland Security employee works in front of a U.S. threat level map and monitoring display

    Commentary

    Streamlining Congressional Oversight of DHS

    At a time when terrorist threats abound both at home and abroad, the DHS and Congress should be working as one to bolster America's defenses. To do this Congress should simplify the way it oversees homeland security.

    Jul 29, 2014

  • Soldiers entering building

    Testimony

    Jihadist Sanctuaries in Syria and Iraq

    The large number of Western violent extremists in sanctuaries like Syria and Iraq requires the adoption of policies and practices in the U.S. homeland and overseas to ensure that these extremists are detected if they return to the West and, more broadly, to reduce the flow of foreign fighters from the West.

    Jul 24, 2014

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Tailored Deterrence: Strategic Context to Guide Joint Force 2020

    To prioritize limited resources in accordance with actual defense policies and threats, DOD should develop tailored approaches to deter specific threats to U.S. national security interests.

    Jul 1, 2014

  • News Release

    News Release

    Increase in Jihadist Threat Calls for New U.S. Strategy to Combat Terrorism

    Since 2010, there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of jihadist groups, a doubling of fighters, and a tripling of attacks by al Qaeda affiliates. The U.S. cannot afford to withdraw or remain disengaged from key parts of North Africa, the Middle East, or South Asia.

    Jun 4, 2014

  • silhouette of militant with rifle

    Report

    Increase in Jihadist Threat Calls for New U.S. Strategy to Combat Terrorism

    Since 2010, there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of jihadist groups, a doubling of fighters, and a tripling of attacks by al Qaeda affiliates. The U.S. cannot afford to withdraw or remain disengaged from key parts of North Africa, the Middle East, or South Asia.

    Jun 4, 2014

  • Masked Sunni gunmen pose with their weapons during a patrol outside the city of Falluja

    Commentary

    The Accelerating Spread of Terrorism

    The number of al Qaeda and other jihadist groups and fighters are growing, not shrinking. U.S. disengagement—or even risking the return of terrorists to the field by freeing them from detention—is not the answer to the threat they pose.

    Jun 3, 2014

  • A computer-generated image of objects in Earth orbit that are currently being tracked, 95% of which is orbital debris

    Commentary

    Debris Poses Increased Threat to Exploration

    Every satellite launch and maneuver is carefully coordinated because some orbits are strewn with the space-based equivalent of blown tires, abandoned vehicles, loose gravel and, of course, other traffic. Earth's orbit is littered with hundreds of thousands of debris objects.

    May 16, 2014

  • Brochure

    Brochure

    Challenges in U.S. National Security Policy: A Festschrift Honoring Edward L. (Ted) Warner

    Among Ted Warner's many notable accomplishments, perhaps the most important has been the opportunity to mentor a substantial number of exceptionally talented men and women on various aspects of U.S. and Russian defense and arms control policy.

    May 13, 2014

  • Iraqi security forces arrest suspected militants of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Hawija on April 24

    Commentary

    A Bigger, but Less Unified, al Qaeda

    In the long run, al Qaeda might be able to reel in its more unreliable offspring, assert more control, demand their obedience, and call upon their resources to assist in global operations. But without a stronger center, that possibility seems remote.

    Apr 25, 2014

  • Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon as an explosion erupts on April 15, 2013

    Commentary

    After Boston, Beware DIY Attacks: Front & Center

    Orlando Sentinel editorial writer Darryl E. Owens interviewed Brian Michael Jenkins, senior adviser to the president of RAND. They discussed last year's Boston Marathon bombing and the current threat of terrorist acts in the United States.

    Apr 16, 2014

  • Al Qaeda fighters celebrate on vehicles taken from Iraqi security forces in Fallujah, March 20, 2014

    Testimony

    Counterterrorism and the Role of Special Operations Forces

    Over the long run, the persistent nature of the terrorism threat to the United States suggests that special operations forces should remain a key part of the struggle against al Qa’ida and other Salafi-jihadist groups.

    Apr 8, 2014

  • A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator on its final approach to Indian Springs Auxiliary Field in Nevada

    Report

    Armed and Dangerous? UAVs and U.S. Security

    While armed drones are not truly transformative weapons, they do offer the United States some significant advantages, particularly against enemies that lack air defenses. How the United States uses these weapons today and into the future will be important in shaping a broader set of international norms that discourage their misuse by others.

    Apr 7, 2014

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    The Extremist Threat to the U.S. Homeland: Addendum

    Document submitted on March 12, 2014 as an addendum to testimony presented before the House Homeland Security Committee on January 15, 2014.

    Mar 24, 2014

  • Personnel from the Iraqi security forces arrest suspected militants of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant

    Commentary

    What Might Terrorists Do Next?

    No one can predict with any certainty what terrorists might do next. If there is one lesson America learned about counterterrorism on 9/11, it's that the coming attack may look nothing like those that preceded it.

    Feb 24, 2014

  • Passengers line up in LaGuardia Airport as it was reopened after being evacuated due to a suspicious package being found by a baggage handler, February 4, 2014

    Commentary

    Experts Are Working to Develop Evidence-Based Ways to Measure Anti-Terrorism Efforts

    The effects of security measures ought not to be measured solely in terms of prevention. Different types of countermeasures produce different effects, such as deterrence, making it easier for security to intervene during an attempted attack, and providing visible security that reassures the public.

    Feb 7, 2014