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 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

  • An M1A2 Abrams main battle tank fires during an exercise in Egypt

    Tool

    Forecasting the Demand for U.S. Ground Forces

    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

Explore Threat Assessment

  • A Tuareg rebel in Mali poses with an assault rifle.

    Commentary

    Hostage Taking Exposes Terror Threat in Africa

    There is a danger in viewing Mali through the prism of counter-terrorism, since the rebel element there is tangled up in movements and groups with a wide variety of interests and motives, ranging from sincere religious conviction to local political rivalries to base economic opportunism, writes Michael Shurkin.

    Jan 18, 2013

  • Binary code and laptops

    Commentary

    A Matter of Degree: Who Can Authorize a Cyberattack?

    Understanding when the United States should engage in cyberwar and who should approve cyberattacks requires understanding that cyberwar has multiple personalities: operational, strategic, and that great gray area in-between, writes Martin Libicki.

    Jan 8, 2013

  • Commentary

    Al Qaeda Threat to U.S. Embassy in Yemen Raises Questions

    As in most war zones and high threat environments, one of the dangers to guard against is complacency...people become accustomed to a certain level of danger and assume that they have everything under control, when in fact they may have not fully thought through the problems posed by an enemy that is continually innovating, writes William Young.

    Jan 4, 2013

  • a huge demonstration marched to the federal palace to protest against the draft constitution and the constitutional decree announced by President Mohamed Morsi

    Commentary

    The Mirage of the Arab Spring

    Like it or not, the United States counts among its allies a number of authoritarian Arab countries, and they are essential partners in protecting its interests, writes Seth G. Jones. The normative hope that liberal democracy may flourish in the future must be balanced by the need to work with governments and societies as they exist today.

    Jan 3, 2013

  • U.S. Army soldier and security force team member maintains security on the street during a key leader engagement in the Lash-e Juwayn district of Farah province, Afghanistan.

    Commentary

    Big Defense Cuts Are Coming, Regardless of the Fiscal Cliff

    The prudent approach is to decide on a strategic direction that provides a framework for prioritizing which forces and equipment the United States should preserve and determining which can be trimmed or eliminated with limited risk to security, write Stuart Johnson and Irv Blickstein.

    Dec 28, 2012

  • Seth Jones, Prince Turki Al Faisal, and David Kilcullen at RAND's Politics Aside event

    Blog

    Counter Terrorism Through Diplomatic Goals

    At RAND's Politics Aside event, former Saudi Intelligence chief Prince Turki Al Faisal, RAND senior political scientist Seth Jones, and others talk with Reuters columnist David Rohde about strategies for dealing with terrorism.

    Dec 27, 2012

  • digital globe

    Commentary

    Cyber Operations Can Supplement a War, but They Cannot Be the War

    The U.S. military, with its high-tech systems, must protect itself from cyber threats with much the same careful management that protects it against vulnerabilities associated with, say, explosives. But there can be no choice between boots on the ground and fingers on a keyboard, writes Martin Libicki.

    Dec 19, 2012

  • The Harbor Police K-9 Team explosive detection canine perform a search on luggage at San Diego International Airport

    Commentary

    More Secure or Less Free?

    It is not surprising that people report a willingness to trade convenience, money, and liberty for security. Legal precedent reinforces that decreased civil liberties may be accepted when confronting existential threats with demonstrably effective security—to a point, writes Henry H. Willis.

    Dec 17, 2012

  • terrorists silhouette

    Commentary

    Generations of Terrorism

    Whatever its eventual outcome, Syria's civil war has already produced thousands of experienced jihadists who will continue to threaten the region for years to come, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 13, 2012

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visits a military unit on an island in the most southwest of Pyongyang in this picture released by KCNA news agency August 18, 2012

    Commentary

    North Korea's Just Getting Started

    While many observers of North Korea have been surprised by the apparently peaceful ascension of Kim Jong-Un, there are reasons to believe that the situation in the North is not so stable, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Dec 12, 2012

  • Commentary

    Fake Boarding Pass Fears Inflated

    Instead of ratcheting back the PreCheck program because of manufactured fears about security lapses, TSA should be encouraged to expand this program to more airlines, more airports and more infrequent travelers, write Jack Riley and Lily Ablon.

    Dec 12, 2012

  • Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari says he has intelligence that members of al Qaeda are crossing from Iraq into Syria to carry out attacks, July 5, 2012

    Blog

    Another Problem in Syria: al Qaeda

    Beyond chemical weapons, another concern in the Syrian conflict is the rise in prominence of al Qaeda-affiliated fighters amid the opposition forces. There is a growing need to conduct a covert campaign against al Qaeda and other extremist groups gaining a presence in the country.

    Dec 12, 2012

  • Report

    Report

    Validating the Preference Profiles for the Dutch National Risk Assessment

    RAND Europe assessed the validity of preference profiles and associated weights used in the Dutch National Risk Assessment and offers recommendations to incorporate public values using scientifically validated methods.

    Dec 6, 2012

  • Malian pro-government militia members take part in a training session at their base in Sevare, Mali, November 12, 2012

    Blog

    Unrest in Mali Leaves Opening for Radicalism

    African leaders meeting in Paris on Wednesday agreed that an African-led operation is needed to keep the western part of the continent from becoming overtaken by terrorists, including al Qaeda affiliates.

    Dec 6, 2012

  • News Release

    News Release

    Nation's Health Security Research Is Not Balanced Enough to Meet Broad Safety Goals

    Federal support for health security research is heavily weighted toward preparing for bioterrorism and other biological threats, providing significantly less funding for challenges such as monster storms or attacks with conventional bombs.

    Dec 3, 2012

  • Red Cross Shelter volunteers discuss coordination of services for survivors of Hurricane Sandy

    Commentary

    Far More U.S. Health Security Research Effort Aimed at Bioterrorism than Natural Disasters

    Given the broad range of threats facing the United States, including those related to extreme weather, it is imperative that monies invested in enhancing health security be well spent, writes Shoshana Shelton.

    Dec 3, 2012

  • Sheila C. Bair during the 'Assessing Risk: Where Will it Come From' panel discussion Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 at the RAND Politics Aside Event in Santa Monica, Calif.

    Blog

    Economic and Security Experts on What Keeps Them Awake at Night

    Former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair, former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Admiral James Loy, economist Stephen Roach and others talk with Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler on a panel called Assessing Risk: Where Will it Come From? at RAND's Politics Aside event.

    Nov 27, 2012

  • Two clips from an assault weapon lie upon a table

    Commentary

    Latest Alleged Homegrown 'Terrorists' Fit the Mold

    For many U.S.-born terror recruits, the prospect of blowing things up is a solution to an unsatisfactory life. Terrorism does not attract the well-adjusted, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Nov 20, 2012

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Multimedia

    A Conversation with Harold Brown, Former U.S. Defense Secretary

    In a conversation with former Northrop Grumman CEO Kent Kresa, Brown shares stories from his new book, Star-Spangled Security: Applying Lessons Learned over Six Decades Safeguarding America, and reflects on what those experiences teach us about current and future challenges facing the United States and the world.

    Nov 17, 2012

  • June 2012 protest in Mexico City's town center against the major presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto.

    Commentary

    Will Mexico's New President Continue the War on the Cartels?

    During his campaign, Enrique Peña Nieto, the victorious PRI candidate, promised frightened and war-weary Mexicans a reduction in the violence, but since his election victory in July, he has sounded more and more bellicose, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Nov 16, 2012