Center for a New American Security

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Center for a New American Security
Logo Center for a New American Security.jpg
Abbreviation CNAS
Motto An independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies.
Formation 2007
Type Public policy think tank
Headquarters 1152 15th St., Ste. 950
Richard Fontaine[1]
Michèle Flournoy
Revenue: $4,182,730
Expenses: $4,968,158
(FYE June 2013)[2]
GEN David Petraeus at CNAS's annual conference, June 2009

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank established in 2007 by co-founders Michèle Flournoy and Kurt M. Campbell which specializes in U.S. national security issues. CNAS's stated mission is to "develop strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies that promote and protect American interests and values."[3] CNAS focuses on terrorism and irregular warfare, the future of the U.S. military, the emergence of Asia as a global power center, and the national security implications of natural resource consumption. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg has called CNAS "an indispensable feature on the Washington landscape."[4] Speaking at the CNAS annual conference in June 2009, U.S. Central Command Commander GEN David Petraeus observed that "CNAS has, in a few years, established itself as a true force in think tank and policy-making circles"[5]

The Obama administration has hired several CNAS employees for key jobs.[6] Founders Michèle Flournoy and Kurt Campbell formerly served as the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, respectively. In June 2009 The Washington Post suggested, "In the era of Obama...the Center for a New American Security may emerge as Washington's go-to think tank on military affairs."[6] CNAS scholars have included John Nagl,[7] David Kilcullen, Andrew Exum, Thomas E. Ricks, Robert D. Kaplan,[8] and Marc Lynch. CNAS is led by CEO Michèle Flournoy.

CNAS is relatively small, with around 30 employees and a budget under $6 million.[9]

In a speech to the United States Military Academy at West Point on February 25, 2011, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates quoted CNAS President John Nagl and Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow Lieutenant General David Barno, USA (Ret.) for their recommendations on improving promotion policies in the military.[10]

CNAS experts have been quoted in numerous national media outlets, including but not limited to Foreign Policy,[11] The New York Times,[12] The Washington Post,[13] The Wall Street Journal,[14] The National Interest,[15] The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,[16] C-SPAN,[17] NBC,[18] NPR,[19] CNN,[20] and PBS.[21]


Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at CNAS's rollout event, June 2007

CNAS has released extensive reports on terrorism, irregular warfare, and regional security challenges.

Before joining CNAS, John Nagl served as an active duty officer in both the first Gulf War and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He then was part of the team that wrote FM 3-24, the Army’s counter-insurgency field manual that transformed the way the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were conducted. Since joining CNAS first as a Senior Fellow and then as President, Nagl has continued to delve into counterinsurgency while also publishing papers on other topics, including the need for a permanent corps of Army advisers[22] and strategies for confronting Islamic extremism.[23]

CNAS has also staked out terrain in studying the emergence of Asia as a center of global power, particularly with regards to China. One of the main stated goals of CNAS’s Asia-Pacific Security program is to “devise a future path for America’s engagement of China that can expand bilateral cooperation in areas of shared strategic interest and encourage increasing accountability from the Chinese regime”.[24]

The CNAS U.S.-India Initiative is co-chaired by CNAS Board of Directors members Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State, and Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The stated goal of the Initiative is to help advance growing bilateral ties in areas of mutual interest, including security, economics, energy and climate change, democracy and human rights.[25] On October 27, 2010 at the White House Press Gaggle on the President's Upcoming Trip to India, the CNAS report Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations was referenced in a reporter's question to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.[26]

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey speaking at CNAS

In 2010, the Center developed its Cyber Security project, which is co-chaired by Bob Kahn, the co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocols used to transmit information over the Internet; Vice Admiral John Michael McConnell, USN (Ret.), former Director of National Intelligence; Joseph Nye, Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University; and Peter Schwartz, a futurist and business strategist and member of the CNAS Board of Directors.[27] In February 2011, CNAS Vice President and Director of Studies Kristin Lord and Research Associate Travis Sharp argued in The Hill that "increased federal attention to cyber security makes good sense," but "lawmakers must ensure that the U.S. government does not spend aimlessly on cyber security."[28]

CNAS has suggested that one way to contain future military costs would be to fold heavy army units into the National guard and reserves, but military officials have responded that the governors would rather have light units, that are better suited to their emergency needs.[29]


Strategy and Statescraft[edit]

Strategy and Statecraft – is a program developed in order to provide answers for how U.S. strategy can be easily adapted in order to meet the challenges in security, political and economical areas of the global environment. Senior fellow and director Julie Smith, vice president Shawn Brimley, and president Richard Fontain.[30]

U.S. defense policy and Military Operations[edit]

U.S. defense policy and Military Operations – by examining issues in defense, diplomacy, intelligence and development, the defense team, made up of retired USA LTG David W. Barno as director, and Nora Bensahel as deputy director, are able to provide U.S. policymakers with the latest ideas in order to develop a better national security strategy for the nation.[31]

Technology and national security[edit]

Technology and national security – though exploration of the many strategies, technology and businesses developments this program is able to gain from the opportunities and avoid possible risks caused by the fast paced changes in technology. Ben FitzGerald is the director.[32]

Energy environment and security[edit]

Energy environment and security – led by director, Elizabeh Rosenberg, the energy, environment and security program is based on analyzing the impact of a changing global energy landscape, and focuses on the opportunities and challenges that it could provide for the present national security, and assists decision makers with the understanding and response to these changes.[33]

Military, Veterans, and society[edit]

Military, Veterans, and society – with the increasing numbers of veterans and military personnel, this CNAS program includes research in regards to this increasing community, including military personnel issues, veterans and military health care, transformative technologies and ways to serve veterans and military personal, and building national strategies in order to support them. Phillip Carter is the director of the program.[34]

Defense strategies and assessments[edit]

Defense strategies and assessments – with director and Senior fellow, Jerry Hendrix, and fellow and Director Paul Scharre, the CNAS defense strategies and assessments program includes analysis of wargaming, history, force structures and their strategic impacts, service roles and missions. It focuses specifically on the emerging technologies that change the future of warfare.[35]


  1. ^ "People". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 9 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Center for a New American Security" (PDF). Foundation Center. 30 June 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Center for a New American Security, About CNAS
  4. ^
  5. ^ Center for a New American Security, 'About the Center for a New American Security, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Carlos Lozada -- Setting Priorities for the Afghan War". The Washington Post. June 7, 2009. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  7. ^ Ricks, Thomas E. (January 16, 2008). "High-Profile Officer Nagl to Leave Army, Join Think Tank". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  8. ^ Center for a New American Security, Robert Kaplan.
  9. ^ Yochi J. Dreazen, Obama dips into think tank for talent, Wall Street Journal, 18 November 2008
  10. ^ U.S. Department of Defense, "Speech: As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, West Point, NY, 25 February 2011.
  11. ^ See, for example, Robert Kaplan 'Oman's Renaissance Man', Foreign Policy, 1 March 2011.
  12. ^ "Room for Debate: A Logical, but Difficult, Step". The New York Times. March 22, 2011. 
  13. ^ Kaplan, Robert D. (February 27, 2011). "Arab democracy and the return of the Mediterranean world". The Washington Post. 
  14. ^ Kaplan, Robert D. (March 26, 2011). "The Middle East Crisis Has Just Begun". The Wall Street Journal. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ The Daily Show, Thomas Ricks, 10 February 2009.
  17. ^ C-SPAN, U.S. Military Intervention in Libya, 23 March 2011.
  18. ^ MSNBC, Meet the Press transcripts, 27 March 2011.
  19. ^ Tom Gjelten, In Libyan Conflict, is Endgame a Stalemate?, NPR, 24 March 2011.
  20. ^ "". CNN. 
  21. ^ Center for a New American Security, United States, Arab Leaders Walk Fine Line as Egypt's Power Center Remains Uncertain, 4 February 2011.
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Center for a New American Security, Asia-Pacific Security
  25. ^ Center for a New American Security India Initiative
  26. ^ The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Press Gaggle on the President's Upcoming Trip to India, 27 October 2010.
  27. ^ Center for a New American Security Cyber Security
  28. ^ Kristin M. Lord and Travis Sharp, Cyber sanity, The Hill, 25 February 2011.
  29. ^ Clark, Colin. "Romney Pledges Defense Boost; Analyst Predicts $1 Trillion in DoD Cuts." AOL Defense, 7 October 2011.
  30. ^ "Strategy and Statecraft". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  31. ^ "U.S. Defense Policy and Military Operations". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  32. ^ "Technology and National Security". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  33. ^ "Energy, Environment and Security". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  34. ^ "Military, Veterans, and Society". Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  35. ^ "Defense Strategies and Assessments". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 

External links[edit]