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

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  • Testimony

    Testimony

    Benghazi and Beyond: What Went Wrong on Sept. 11, 2012 and How to Prevent it from Happening Again

    Among security considerations for diplomatic missions abroad is the amount and type of support provided by the host government, the method for acquiring knowledge of what is happening outside the embassy in the surrounding neighborhoods, and the actual structure of the buildings and layout of the diplomatic compound.

    Nov 15, 2012

  • Report

    Report

    A Strategy-Based Framework for Accommodating Reductions in the Defense Budget

    RAND analysts posit that federal budget deficit pressure may result in further Defense Department reductions, and suggest starting from a strategy basis in determining cuts, prioritizing challenges, and identifying where to accept more risk.

    Oct 29, 2012

  • Iraqi Army soldiers practice prior to an urban operations live-fire exercise at Camp Taji in December 2010

    Commentary

    Difficult Questions on Today's Terrorist Threat

    Much like the struggle against the Soviet Union and Communism during the Cold War, it appears increasingly likely that the struggle against radical Islamic groups will last several decades, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Oct 22, 2012

  • Announcement

    Brian Michael Jenkins Selected for World Economic Forum

    Brian Michael Jenkins, senior adviser to the president of RAND, has been chosen as a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Terrorism. He will travel to Dubai in mid-November to attend what is billed as the world's largest brainstorming meeting, with thought leaders from WEF's Network of Global Agenda Councils.

    Oct 17, 2012

  • Famous mural of Statue of Liberty with a skull face in front of an American flag, former US Embassy, Tehran

    Commentary

    Would Iran Turn to Terror?

    In a conflict with the United States or Israel, Tehran could turn to terror tactics—directly or indirectly through proxies—to create leverage when it is significantly outmanned and outgunned against conventional military forces, writes Alireza Nader.

    Oct 3, 2012

  • nuclear power plant with radioactive sign

    News Release

    RAND Stanton Research Fellows Issue New Studies Examining Nuclear Security Issues

    Three Stanton Nuclear Security Fellows at the RAND Corporation—Robert Reardon, Markus Schiller, and David Kearn—have published new research examining nuclear security issues.

    Oct 2, 2012

  • Iranian protest-rally against Ahmadinejad September 26, 2012 in NYC

    Commentary

    How Would Iran Fight Back?

    Iranian leaders are well aware that they cannot defeat the U.S. military in a face-to-face conflict. But as Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel demonstrated, battlefield losses (or draws) can be turned into psychological victories, writes Alireza Nader.

    Oct 1, 2012

  • Airline passengers waiting to board

    Commentary

    TSA Procedures Need to Be Remade from Scratch

    It is time for a new approach to meeting America's next-generation aviation security needs, one that dodges the influence of politics and bureaucracies and relies instead on the resources and objectivity of independent researchers operating from a clean slate, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 28, 2012

  • Report

    Report

    Characterizing the North Korean Nuclear Missile Threat

    Questions the current common view of the North Korean missile program and seeks to better characterize the North Korean missile threat by comparing the available data on the North Korea missile program against several possible hypotheses.

    Sep 27, 2012

  • rally to end violence in Syria

    Commentary

    By Fearing Rise of al Qaeda in Syria, U.S. Ignores Greater Threat: Inaction

    Even if the rebels ultimately prevail, if the U.S. continues to sit on the sidelines as the human toll rises, it could face a decidedly anti-American government in Damascus whether jihadists come to power or not, writes Julie Taylor.

    Sep 19, 2012

  • U.S. Embassy security training exercise

    Commentary

    Security Strategies for U.S. Diplomatic Compounds

    Going forward, it's clear the security plan for the U.S. diplomatic presence abroad must include well-developed strategies to both detect and prevent an assault like the one in Libya before it occurs, writes William Young.

    Sep 19, 2012

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    New Challenges to U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts: An Assessment of the Current Terrorist Threat: Addendum

    Document submitted on August 24, 2012 as an addendum to testimony presented before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on July 11, 2012.

    Aug 27, 2012

  • Syrian rebel fighters pose for a picture in Hama, Syria, July 20, 2012

    Commentary

    Al Qaeda's War for Syria

    Assuming Assad's regime eventually collapses, a robust al Qaeda presence will undermine transition efforts and pose a major threat to regional stability, writes Seth Jones.

    Jul 27, 2012

  • Regent Street London Olympics 2012

    Commentary

    The Olympics and Terrorism: Why the Games Remain an Appealing Target

    While it is quite clear that attacking an event as internationally iconic as the Olympics would be attractive to modern terrorist groups with global aspirations, their ability to do so successfully and shift focus and attention from the competition and achievements of the Games to the terrorist groups' agendas is far less certain, writes Brian Jackson.

    Jul 25, 2012

  • U.S. service members in a training exercise during Cyber Flag

    Report

    Military Intelligence Fusion for Complex Operations: A New Paradigm

    A proposed a paradigm shift in how military intelligence is fused, via behavioral intelligence analysis, a concept that provides a more complete picture of the complex counterinsurgency environment.

    Jul 23, 2012

  • U.S. Marines assigned to Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team

    Blog

    An Assessment of the Current Terrorist Threat: A Resurgence of Iranian-Sponsored Terrorism

    The future threat posed by Iranian-sponsored terrorism will be contingent upon Iran's calculations of risk. The current shadow war could escalate further if Iran thinks military attack by either Israel or the United States is inevitable and imminent or, obviously, if hostilities begin.

    Jul 23, 2012

  • Testimony

    New Challenges to U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts

    The United States confronts a more diverse terrorist threat in 2012 than it has in the past. Al Qaeda has exploited the turmoil created by the Arab uprisings to make tactical advances and open new fronts. In addition, several incidents in the past year suggest a resurgence of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

    Jul 11, 2012

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    National Insecurity: Just How Safe Is the United States?

    Given the threats it faces, from nuclear-armed autocracies to terrorists, the United States cannot afford to scale back its military.

    Jul 1, 2012

  • A man on a computer in a dark room

    Commentary

    Getting the Threat Right

    Would-be jihadist warriors are angry, eager for adventure, out to assuage personal humiliation and demonstrate their manhood. Many appear to be motivated by personal crises—terrorism does not attract the well adjusted, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jun 15, 2012

  • A world map outline with glowing nuclear warning symbols over it

    Blog

    A Conversation with Philip Taubman, Author of The Partnership

    Philip Taubman discussed his book, The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb, at a RAND event on June 1, 2012. The book offers a clear analysis of the danger of nuclear terrorism and how it can be prevented.

    Jun 8, 2012