Strategy and Policy Analysis

The Strategy and Policy Analysis (SPA) program is CNA’s locus for analyzing issues of national strategy. Our core competencies include:

  • U.S. national strategy publications, specifically their maritime components
  • The role of sea power in U.S. strategy
  • Nuclear weapons policy
  • Deterrence, compellence, and reassurance (theory and application)
  • Real-world military operations
  • Innovations in naval warfighting and naval warfare
  • Futures planning and long-term trend analysis
  • Modalities of implementing completed strategies

One of SPA’s primary responsibilities is to help the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense assess how naval, maritime, and national strategy is written, to improve the overall process of strategy development. Our Capstone Strategy Series is a central example of this work.

In addition to studying the process of strategy writing, SPA analysts are also deeply integrated in supporting the substance of strategic thought, providing warfighters, policymakers, and analysts with the subject matter expertise to address the Nation’s biggest questions. Our ongoing co-sponsorship of the Kiel International Seapower Symposium is one example of SPA’s commitment to shaping the dialogue on strategic issues.

SPA’s project approach is multidisciplinary, leveraging the diverse experiences of a team that includes:

  • Naval historians
  • Political scientists and international relations specialists
  • Former CNA Field Representatives, part of CNA's unique field program
  • Wargame and tabletop exercise designers
  • Drafters of previous national and naval strategies
  • Former practitioners, including Navy and Marine Corps Officers and DoD analysts



Nilanthi Samaranayake, Director, Strategy and Policy Analysis
Expertise in: Allies and partners analysis, naval engagement and capacity-building, maritime domain awareness, non-traditional security, Indian Ocean regional strategy.

Dr. Thomas Bowditch
Expertise in: Asia-Pacific maritime strategy; global force posture; Marine Corps headquarters staff architecture; national level grand strategy; unconventional warfare theory; sea power and sea control theory; concepts of deterrence.

Dr. Eugene Cobble
Expertise in: Alliance dynamics and management, defense technology transfer and procurement collaboration, Transatlantic and Anglospheric security, US Navy strategy and policy.

Mary Ellen Connell
Expertise in: U.S. diplomacy and national security strategy, NATO, European defense issues.

Dr. Veronica De Allende
Expertise in: Women, Peace and Security (WPS), regional maritime security studies, foreign civil-military relations, humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HA/DR), Latin America political economy and economic development, organizational analysis, security cooperation, and assessment, monitoring, and evaluation (AM&E).

Dr. Eleanore Douglas
Expertise in: National strategy and policy, defense planning, allied and partner relations, security cooperation, history of US strategy & policy (Interwar, Early Cold War), strategies of retrenchment, wargaming, red-teaming, scenarios and futures analysis, risk analysis.

Dr. Ralph Espach
Expertise in: Climate change and security, monitoring and evaluation, Latin American and US security relations, naval and maritime security affairs and forces in the Americas.

Madison Estes
Expertise in: Deterrence, extended deterrence, strategic stability, escalation, nuclear weapons, nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear arms control, and verification and monitoring.

Megan Katt
Expertise in: Defense policy and strategy, irregular warfare, special operations forces, and operations analysis.

Dr. Timothy McDonnell
Expertise in: National strategy and policy, history of US nuclear posture, deterrence, extended deterrence, escalation, arms control, proliferation and military operations.

Cornell Overfield
Expertise in: Transatlantic relations, diplomatic history, and international relations theory.

CAPT Peter Swartz (USN, Ret)
Expertise in: Maritime strategy and policy, naval deployment history and strategy, joint and allied strategy and relationships.

Dr. Joshua Tallis
Expertise in: Maritime security, polar strategy, maritime strategy, seapower in US foreign policy, piracy, and maritime terrorism.

Annaleah Westerhaug
Expertise in: European studies, EU affairs, international affairs, international development cooperation, sustainable development, East African development, social policy, sociology, human trafficking/contemporary slavery, and human rights.

Dr. Steven Wills
Expertise in: Naval and military history; surface warfare and platforms; Cold War and post-Cold War Navy Strategy and Policy; and British Naval Strategy and Policy (1889-1941).