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The U.S. Army in Asia, 2030-2040

September 29, 2014 Comments off

The U.S. Army in Asia, 2030-2040
Source: RAND Corporation

For the next 20 or more years, the U.S. relationship with China will be the fulcrum on which the East Asian security order balances. As a result, U.S. policy should seek to prevent the emergence of an overtly hostile U.S.-China relationship while hedging against the possibility that one could nonetheless emerge. Such a strategy must balance between protecting U.S. interests in East Asia, where clashes with China’s preferences are most likely, and cooperating with Beijing globally where the two sides have common objectives. Crafting and sustaining such a strategy will be a major challenge. It must have clear and realistic goals flowing from larger U.S. interests and strategy in the region, take into account the need for U.S.-China cooperation on a host of global security and economic matters, be flexible and responsive to Chinese moves, seek to channel Chinese conduct in favorable directions, and reflect the new realities of Asia resulting from China’s increased military and economic power. The U.S. Army will have an important role to play in supporting U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific, primarily by providing training and support to allies and partners; helping to defend key facilities from enemy ground, air, and missile attack; providing key enabling support to the joint force; projecting expeditionary combat forces into the theater; contributing to new conventional deterrent options; and helping to encourage China’s participation in cooperative military-to-military engagements.

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The Future of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act

September 26, 2014 Comments off

The Future of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act
Source: RAND Corporation

Since the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) was last reauthorized in 2007, terrorism insurance has remained widely available and the price has fallen. However, challenges remain from both a social and an insurance point of view. Roughly 40 percent of policyholders still do not purchase terrorism coverage, and uncertainty remains regarding how much coverage would be available without TRIA. What is more, the program is set to expire on December 31, 2014, and it is unclear whether the improvements in the market since TRIA was first passed in 2002 can be sustained without it.

On June 10, 2014, a conference was convened in Washington, D.C., to present findings of recent RAND research and to address additional facets of this complex issue, including the pros and cons of proposed modifications to TRIA. This conference brought together stakeholders to not only discuss the varying implications of TRIA’s expiration, modification, and extension, but also to frame how it is debated in the halls of Congress and across the country.

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence
Source: RAND Corporation

All roads lead to Damascus and then back out again, but in different directions. The financial and military aid flowing into Syria from patrons and neighbors is intended to determine the outcome of the conflict between a loose confederation of rebel factions and the regime in Damascus. Instead, this outside support has the potential to perpetuate the existing civil war and to ignite larger regional hostilities between Sunni and Shia areas that could reshape the political geography of the Middle East. This report examines the main factors that are likely to contribute to or impede the spread of violence from civil war and insurgency in Syria, and then examines how they apply to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan.

Shining a Light on State Campaign Finance: An Evaluation of the Impact of the National Institute on Money in State Politics

September 19, 2014 Comments off

Shining a Light on State Campaign Finance: An Evaluation of the Impact of the National Institute on Money in State Politics
Source: RAND Corporation

The National Institute on Money in State Politics collects, processes, and makes public information on campaign contributions made to state-level candidates for public office. The Institute asked the RAND Corporation to probe user perspectives on the Institute and its data, on how the data are being used, and on how the utility of the data might be improved in the future. Drawing on experiences of a variety of users, as well as a review of the publications that have used the Institute’s data and research reports, this report provides an evaluation of the Institute’s impact on the public discourse over campaign finance at the state level. It is our view that the Institute serves an important purpose — to undertake the collection, centralization, and dissemination of state-level campaign finance data. No other organization has been successful in this effort or is likely to be so. All the audiences that the Institute seeks to engage have found value in the Institute’s efforts. The most successful of these are the scholarly, journalistic, and advocacy communities. The interviewees we spoke with were impressed, felt indebted to the Institute, and expressed an inability to do the sort of research, reporting, and advocacy on state campaign finance without the Institute. Overall, a variety of influential users engaged in campaign finance and public policy view the Institute’s work as being of high quality and adding value.

The Health Risks of Bathing in Recreational Waters: A Rapid Evidence Assessment of Water Quality and Gastrointestinal Illness

September 18, 2014 Comments off

The Health Risks of Bathing in Recreational Waters: A Rapid Evidence Assessment of Water Quality and Gastrointestinal Illness
Source: RAND Corporation

The European Bathing Directive (2006/7/EC) stipulates water quality standards for recreational bathing waters based on specified limits of faecal indicator organisms (FIOs). Presence of FIOs above the limits is considered to be indicative of poor water quality and to present a risk to bathers’ health. The European Bathing Directive (2006) is to be reviewed in 2020. We conducted a rapid evidence assessment on recreational bathing waters and gastrointestinal illness (GI) to identify the extent of the literature published since the previous review period in 2003 and to determine whether there is any new evidence which may indicate that a revision to the Directive would be justified.

Overall, 21 papers (from 16 studies), including two RCTs, met the inclusion criteria; 12 were conducted in marine waters and four were conducted in freshwater. Considerable heterogeneity existed between study protocols and the majority had significant methodological limitations, including self-selection and misclassification biases. Moreover, there was limited variation in water quality among studies, providing a limited evidence base on which to assess the classification standards.

Overall, there appears to be a consistent significant relationship between faecal indicator organisms and GI in freshwater, but not marine water studies. Given the apparent lack of relationship between GI and water quality, it is unclear whether the boundaries of the Bathing Waters Directive are supported by studies published in the post-2003 period. We suggest that more epidemiological evidence is needed to disprove or confirm the original work that was used to derive these boundaries for marine waters.

Assessing Locally Focused Stability Operations

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Assessing Locally Focused Stability Operations
Source: RAND Corporation

This report describes how the Army and other services can better measure and assess the progress and outcomes of locally focused stability operations (LFSO), which are defined as the missions, tasks, and activities that build security, governance, and development by, with, and through the directly affected community, in order to increase stability at the local level. A number of issues related to assessing LFSO are identified, along with foundational challenges that include an inherently complex operational environment, limited doctrinal guidance, competing visions of stability, untested assumptions, and redundant or excessive reporting requirements. The report offers solutions to these and other challenges, and provides concrete recommendations and implementation-related guidance for designing and conducting assessments of LFSO. The report concludes with an assessment plan for a notional African LFSO scenario that illustrates the practical application of those insights.

Ramifications of DARPA’s Programming Computation on Encrypted Data Program

September 16, 2014 Comments off

Ramifications of DARPA’s Programming Computation on Encrypted Data Program
Source: RAND Corporation

Programming Computation on Encrypted Data (PROCEED) is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program whose primary purpose is to improve the efficiency of algorithms that allow people to carry out computations on encrypted data — without having to decrypt the data itself. RAND was asked to evaluate whether PROCEED — which expands the knowledge base of the global cryptographic community — is likely to provide more benefits to the United States than it does to its global rivals. The research team’s assessment focused on the degree to which PROCEED technologies may be adopted, under what circumstances, and for what purpose. The team then used the analytic framework generated to understand technological uptake decisions as a way of ascertaining how such factors would work in Russia and China vis-à-vis the United States (and, by extension, countries similar to the United States).

Analysis of online searches for information about data encryption, information security, and data protection in Russia and China concluded that, given government approval of PROCEED technologies, their diffusion will be more rapid in China than in Russia. Whether PROCEED technologies will be adopted in the face of the processing penalties that will be associated with using them is difficult to determine at this time. If PROCEED is adopted, it is likely to be adopted more rapidly in the United States (and similar developed countries) than it is in Russia and China, in large part because PROCEED is compatible with the U.S. political culture, and in smaller part because it better accords to the U.S. business environment.

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