The RAND Corporation (Research ANd Development) was set up by the United States Army Air Force in 1945 under contract to Douglas Aircraft Company, originally called Project RAND. In 1948 RAND was separated from Douglas Aircraft and became an independent nonprofit company, utilizing Ford Foundation money as its initial capital, with two distinct areas of focus: one-third social issues and two-thirds national security related.
The RAND Corporation helps to define US military strategy and operates a think tank that conducts research and offers expertise to other governments, international organizations, private foundations, commercial organizations and universities. According to the corporate web site, the RAND Corporate claims to be a "nonpartisan" "nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis"
Now funded by the US government and private entities, the RAND Corporation "aims for quantitative problem solving by translating theoretical concepts from formal economics and other hard sciences into novel applications in other areas; that is, via applied science and operations research" concepts to practical applications that can be used by other industries such as healthcare and private research laboratories.
The stated mission of RAND Corporation is to "further promote scientific, educational, and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare and security of the United States of America." Its self-declared mission is "to help improve policy and decision making through research and analysis", using its "core values of quality and objectivity."
The company has approximately 1,700 employees. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, RAND's other principle US offices are in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Arlington, Virginia. Subsidiaries' offices are in Brussels, Belgium, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Jackson, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates.
RAND Corporation's Santa Monica location also houses the Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School, where students work directly with RAND analysts. The school is one of the original graduate programs to concentrate on public policy and is the largest Ph.D. programs in policy analysis. RAND corporation also publishes The RAND Journal of Economics, a peer-reviewed economics journal.
The Nobel Prize in the fields of physics and economics have been awarded to 32 recipients who have been associated with RAND at some point in their careers.
Space systems for the US space program and developing many of the principles that were used to establish the Internet are two of RAND's achievements, and the company is also credited with the development of wargaming, which deals with various real and fictional military operations.
One of the RAND Corporation's most well-known contributions is the doctrine of nuclear deterrence by way of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), which was developed under Robert S. McNamara and chief strategist Henry Kahn. Kahn coined the phrase, "winnable" nuclear exchange in his 1960 book, On Thermonuclear War, one of the individuals on whom the character Dr. Strangelove was modeled.
Stanley Kubrick's film "Dr. Strangelove" poked fun at the RAND Corporation back in 1964, and in 1994 the popular animated series, "The Simpsons," created a character named Milhouse who included RAND in a group of conspiracy theoried that he believed were causing parents to disappear for long stretches of time.
The combined public-private funding of RAND Corporation leads to its research in an enormous broad set of issues. The company's 2005 annual report revealed less than 50% of its research is done on non-defense related issues, including such areas as child policy, healthcare, education, justice, crisis management and disaster preparation, terrorism, transportation and more. RAND "experts" can be seen and heard in media providing commentary relating to seemingly every area of life, particularly weighty in issues of "terrorism" and "Islamofascism," and the corporation's ability to influence social perception should not be understated.
RAND is credited (accused) of directing US foreign policy since its inception on behalf of the Anglosphere, and conspiracy theories surrounding the corporation are myriad. One 400-page book by Alex Abella, Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire (2008), is described as "a page-turning chronicle of the rise of the secretive think thank that has been the driving force behind American government for sixty years."
While reports pertaining to all of RAND's nonclassified research are posted at their web site, the majority of RAND work remains secret. Because of the mystery surrounding RAND, and its connections to the Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations, and because nearly two-thirds of its work relates to "national security," many people are extremely suspicion about just who benefits from RAND Corporation's work to "improve policy and decisionmaking."