The National Defense Research Institute operates five interconnected research centers as part of RAND's National Security Research Division.
The Acquisition and Technology Policy Center works to ensure that United States and allied forces have the materials needed to accomplish their missions in space, air, ground, sea, and cyber domains. They work to help defense policymakers prioritize investments in forces, capabilities, and technologies and drive investments toward operational objectives. This includes identifying how to pair autonomous, unmanned aerial vehicles with manned platforms to suppress or destroy enemy air defense; how to integrate artificial intelligence into military operations and weapon systems; and how to improve airbase resilience to attacks.
The Cyber and Intelligence Policy Center works to help United States and allied forces cyber and intelligence communities understand the roles of cyber operations and intelligence in the global environment. This includes assessing the impact of technological trends, prioritize data collection needs, rebalance resources safeguard information and systems, and manage operations.
The Forces and Resources Policy Center has conducted analyses of defense manpower to help military leaders manage recruiting and retention, the transition to an all-volunteer force, the post-Cold War drawdown, and post-9/11 buildups. Ongoing projects include the career development of military and civilian personnel, individual and unit readiness, family support, reintegration, quality-of-life programs, and military health policy.
The International Security and Defense Policy Center conducts research to help United States and allied leaders make decisions about national and international security. Their focus areas include:
- analyzing the evolving global security environment
- developing defense strategies and operational concepts including countering missiles, foreign aggression, targeting terrorist networks, and application of hard and soft power
- building defense forces and postures and identifying opportunities to improve the operation of United States and allies alongside each other
- advancing security cooperation amongst the United States and the capabilities of allied governments and militaries
The Navy and Marine Forces Center works to help the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps, allied maritime and amphibious forces, and other clients manage acquisition, sustainment, personnel, force deployment, and strategy issues. Their research focus areas include:
- shipbuilding, maintenance, logistics, and sustainment
- force employment in naval and amphibious expeditionary operations
- marine corps intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
- system, technical, and programmatic acquisition
- navy and marine corps personnel readiness