Weekly Recap March 18 2022 and April 9 2022

Weekly Roundup – Grants to Russia, no-fly zones, telemedicine: the RAND Weekly Roundup

We discuss how the West can help the Russians get accurate information about the war in Ukraine; why it would be a strategic mistake to discard a no-fly zone policy; assessing pain management in the military health system; questions about the quality of the solo telecom audit; what's in store for South Korea's new president; and a RAND expert's take on government procurement programs.

Informing the Russians about Ukraine could help end the war

Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken aggressive steps to prevent his people from learning the truth about the war in Ukraine. According to RAND experts, more accurate information for Russian citizens could be the key to ending the war ahead of schedule. The West could step in to help.

For example, there may be ways to support online personalities who have access to the social media market in Russia. Similarly, the U.S., EU and NATO could explore creative ways to promote Russian access to independent Russian-language media, Ukrainian-based sites or Western-funded media. The West could also help Russians access a free Internet, possibly by sharing access to virtual private network technology.

These actions could help neutralize the Kremlin's information operations and help the Russian population focus on the real cause of the sanctions and the real cost of the war.

Why excluding a no-fly zone policy could be a strategic mistake

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continues to call on the United States to declare a no-fly zone over his country. U.S. leaders oppose this because they fear it could trigger a larger conflict. If this hesitation is justified, not imposing a no-fly zone could be a strategic mistake, says RAND's Raphael Cohen. Maintaining this option “preserves U.S. influence and avoids dangerous global precedents.” The only thing worse than imposing a no-fly zone, he says, might be to exclude it altogether.

Assessing on-call care in the military medical system

Pain is the leading cause of disability among active duty service members in the United States. It has serious consequences for the well-being of service members and the readiness of the U.S. military. A new RAND study examines how acute and chronic pain, including opioid prescribing, is managed in the military health care system and identifies potential areas where patient care could be improved.

Voice-only telehealth remains commonplace in safety net clinics

A new RAND study concludes that California safety net clinics continued to use voice-only telehealth long after the onset of the pandemic. Given that little is known about the quality of care based solely on audiotelemetry, the higher proportion of these visits in safety net clinics raises questions about the quality of care for low-income patients. “If too many visits are made through telemedicine,” says lead author Lori Uscher-Pines, “patients may miss out on needed preventive care.”

What's in store for South Korea's new president?

Earlier this month, Yoon Suk-yeol was elected president of South Korea. How might the new leader change regional dynamics? According to RAND's Soo Kim, Yoon's position on North Korea offers some clues. He will emphasize North Korea's non-nuclear status, oppose Kim Jong-un and bring the dynamic between Seoul and Pyongyang to a more equal level. The world is watching with great interest.

Creating better purchasing programs: with William Shelton

RAND's William Shelton specializes in procurement – or, as he would say, the art – from program management to quality assurance. In a new Q&A, Shelton talks about what brought him to RAND, his career in the U.S. Air Force, and how he is applying his knowledge and experience to help build U.S. capabilities in space.

Confidence in the CDC, teaching students with disabilities, Russian mercenaries: the weekly RAND roundup

We discuss declining public confidence in CDC, teaching students with disabilities in the COVID-19 era, changes to the U.S. justice system, Russian mercenaries, why Biden should take the lead in promoting cooperation between Japan and South Korea, and improving access to behavioral healthcare for the military.

Confidence in CDC declines in the face of a pandemic

Public confidence in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declined by approximately 10% between May and October 2020, a critical period for the COVID-19 pandemic. So says a new RAND study.

The drop in confidence was especially large among those who planned to vote for a candidate other than Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election or who did not plan to vote at all. This suggests that perceptions of the CDC are now highly politicized and that the Biden administration may have the difficult task of restoring trust in the CDC.

According to RAND researchers, the key to winning this battle is who are credible spokespeople for Americans on vaccines and public health policy. It is also important to help the public understand the scientific basis for policy changes and directions to prevent the spread of the virus.

Educating students with disabilities in the era of COVID-19

COVID-19 has brought about major changes in the way teachers teach students with disabilities. To learn more about these issues, RAND surveyed nearly 1,600 teachers across the United States. About two in five respondents said their school provides alternative instruction for students with disabilities. Such arrangements were less common in schools with more students of color and students living in poverty.

The U.S. criminal justice system during and after the pandemic

When COVID-19 spread in the U.S. last year, criminal justice agencies-including law enforcement, the judiciary, and prisons-had to adapt to curb the spread of the disease. At the same time, national protests related to the murder of George Floyd and other black Americans have created significant pressure for criminal justice reform. How has this unprecedented period affected the criminal justice system? And how might it shape the post-pandemic future? RAND assembled a panel of experts to explore this question.

Russian mercenaries: strategic supermen or weak link?

Russia relies heavily on private security contractors, or mercenaries, to threaten the interests of its competitors. However, according to RAND experts, the Kremlin's “little green men” may be “little green vulnerabilities.” First of all, Russian mercenaries are often unreliable. At least in some cases, their fighting spirit appears weak, and they have repeatedly demonstrated that they choose self-interest over national interest. The United States could exploit these weaknesses to thwart Russian efforts to undermine Western democracy.

How can Biden strengthen Japan-South Korea relations?

President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide will meet on April 16 in Washington. According to RAND's Scott Harold, the summit could be an opportunity for Biden to emphasize U.S.-Japan alliance cooperation with South Korea. If the U.S. does not take the lead, actors who do not support Washington's agenda could pursue their own objectives. According to Harold, this could have negative consequences for the United States.

Access to control military behavior: geography matters

U.S. military personnel living more than 40 miles from a military healthcare facility may have difficulty accessing quality behavioral healthcare. That's according to a new RAND study. In particular, military personnel who live farther away and have been diagnosed with PTSD, substance use disorder or depression are often less likely to receive recommended treatment. The study authors recommend monitoring service members' treatment remotely and expanding access to telemedicine.

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