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

  • Armed militant

    Commentary

    A Year After Osama bin Laden's Death, Obituaries for al Qaeda Are Still Way Too Premature

    Predictions of al Qaeda's imminent demise are rooted more in wishful thinking and politicians' desire for applause lines than in rigorous analysis, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Apr 24, 2012

  • EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili attend a meeting in Istanbul, April 14, 2012

    Q&A

    Iran's Calculations in New Diplomatic Talks

    Beset by economic problems, political divisions, and domestic discontent, Iranian leaders may compromise—or appear to make compromises—to cushion the regime from the mounting internal and external pressures, writes Alireza Nader.

    Apr 17, 2012

  • Three Islamic women

    Commentary

    Terror's 'Invisible Women'

    For their part, a younger generation of female jihadists has come to believe that acts of violence can be just as liberating politically and spiritually for women as for men, writes Karla Cunningham.

    Apr 3, 2012

  • News Release

    News Release

    Conflict with al Qaeda Will Continue Into Its Third Decade, Although Tactics May Change

    While al Qaeda's capacity for large-scale attacks has been drastically reduced and the organization seriously weakened, the United States can expect to continue its battle with the terrorist group for many years to come.

    Feb 16, 2012

  • Report

    Report

    Conflict with al Qaeda Will Continue Into Its Third Decade, Although Tactics May Change

    While al Qaeda's capacity for large-scale attacks has been drastically reduced and the organization seriously weakened, the United States can expect to continue its battle with the terrorist group for many years to come.

    Feb 16, 2012

  • A street in Qom, Iran

    Commentary

    Al Qaeda in Iran

    Iran is in many ways a safer territory from which al Qaeda can operate. The United States has targeted al Qaeda in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries, but it has limited operational reach in Iran, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Jan 29, 2012

  • A policeman walks past the car belonging to Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan at a blast site in Tehran, January 11, 2012

    Commentary

    Do Israelis Really Want to Bomb Iran?

    Much has been made over differences between the U.S. and Israeli threat perceptions of Iran, but in fact internal Israeli divisions suggest that the gap may not be as great as some suggest, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.

    Jan 12, 2012

  • Report

    Threats Without Threateners?

    Three issues with far-reaching causes and consequences—climate change, water scarcity, and pandemics—are examined with attention to their national security implications and impacts on the global commons.

    Jan 10, 2012

  • North Korean flag against a blue sky

    Commentary

    North Korea: Uncertain and Dangerous Times Ahead

    With his father's support over the last year, Kim Jong-Un has tried to rapidly reshape the North Korean leadership structure, giving him many new subordinates who are untried and lacking experience. Some will clearly make mistakes, writes Bruce Bennett.

    Dec 21, 2011

  • Report

    China's Expanding Role in Global Mergers and Acquisitions Markets

    To improve understanding of China's investment patterns, the authors analyze recent and proposed Chinese investment in companies in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world.

    Nov 22, 2011

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    Al Qaeda After Bin Laden: Implications for American Strategy: Addendum

    Document submitted on November 1, 2011 as an addendum to testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, on June 22, 2011.

    Nov 2, 2011

  • The under-construction One World Trade Center stands over New York's Manhattan skyline on August 24, 2011, photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Commentary

    Five Myths about 9/11

    Fear has made al-Qaeda the world's top terrorist nuclear power, yet it possesses not a single nuke. This is a lesson in how terrorism works, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Sep 2, 2011

  • Report

    Report

    Reintegrating Afghan Insurgents into Their Local Communities

    Former Taliban and other insurgents provide an invaluable source of information on their previous colleagues, and can ultimately cause momentum to shift toward counterinsurgent forces. Steps can be taken to increase the likelihood of reintegrating fighters into their communities.

    Jul 20, 2011

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    Al Qaeda after bin Laden

    We have greatly reduced al Qaeda's capacity for large-scale attacks, but the terrorist campaign led by al Qaeda may go on for many years. It is fair to call it a war, without implying that, like America’s past wars, it must have a finite ending.

    Jun 22, 2011

  • Report

    Report

    Policy Choices for United States to Dissuade Iran from Developing Nuclear Weapons

    Dissuading Iran from developing nuclear weapons faces major obstacles, but it's too soon to give up trying as it may still be possible to influence the outcome of Iran's internal political debate.

    Jun 7, 2011

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Osama a Wizard of Illusion and Rhetoric

    Bin Laden was chairman of the board, not CEO, using his moral authority to urge his tiny army forward, pointing out new ways to kill Americans, encouraging followers to think outside the typical terrorist playbook, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Jun 1, 2011

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Glimpse of bin Laden Techniques in Captured Records of al-Qa'ida in Iraq

    Captured financial documents of al-Qa'ida's Iraq affiliate in Anbar Province revealed its internal operations and enabled one of the most comprehensive assessments of an al-Qa'ida linked group, write Benjamin Bahney, Renny McPherson, and Howard J. Shatz.

    May 26, 2011

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    The Future of Al Qa'ida

    Even after the death of Osama bin Laden, al Qa'ida and allied groups continue to present a grave threat to the United States and its allies by overseeing and encouraging terrorist operations, managing a robust propaganda campaign, conducting training, and facilitating financial assistance.

    May 24, 2011

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Al-Qaeda after bin Laden

    Wary of communicating with each other and with al Qaeda's field commands, al Qaeda central could become more isolated, more dependent on its affiliates, allied groups, and individual acolytes, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    May 12, 2011

  • Report

    Report

    Resource-Constrained Spatial Hot Spot Identification

    Describes a methodology for identifying areas where problem events are more pronounced and directing resources toward those areas.

    May 11, 2011