skip to main content
Article Podcast Report Summary Quick Look Video Newsfeed triangle plus sign dropdown arrow Case Study All Search Facebook LinkedIn YouTube

Civilian Harm Mitigation

CNA independent analysis has supported US government efforts to reduce civilian casualties for two decades. We bring unique operational expertise to this challenge—as a nonprofit organization of scientists that has collected data alongside US forces in every major conflict since World War II. CNA research reveals how civilian harm happens in practice and offers practical solutions. We have led or contributed to every US assessment of civilian harm mitigation, and our recommendations have informed practice and policy, including the DOD Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan. We also work with militaries in the field to help them protect civilians while maintaining or improving mission effectiveness. CNA engages with all stakeholders—civilian, military, and governmental—to develop data-informed solutions that advance both civilian protection and national security.

Examples of Current Work 

  • Building institutional capacity for civilian harm mitigation with US allies and partners
  • Analyzing best practices for civilian harm mitigation and response from recent operations
  • Designing a tabletop exercise on civilian protection
  • Evaluating emerging technologies that can be used to mitigate civilian harm
  • Developing frameworks for civilian harm mitigation and response to assess allies and partners in support of security cooperation and assistance

CNA Clients and Partners in Civilian Harm Mitigation

Department of Defense

  • Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict
  • Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Partnerships
  • Institute for Security Governance
  • Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office
  • Defense Security Cooperation Agency
  • Civilian Protection Center of Excellence


  • State Department Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
  • MIT Lincoln Laboratory
  • United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research

Larry Lewis

Larry Lewis — Formerly the State Department Senior Advisor on Civilian Protection (2015–2017), he was a primary author of the 2016 executive order on civilian protection. Dr. Lewis has led many studies to determine the causes of civilian casualties and develop tailored, actionable solutions. He has advised military forces on how to reduce civilian harm.

Marla Keenan

Marla Keenan — The former senior director of programs at the Center for Civilians in Conflict, Keenan has decades of experience working with international and regional organizations in the UN, African Union, and NATO on the protection of civilians and related issues.

Sabrina Verleysen

Sabrina Verleysen — The senior specialist for strategic development at CNA executes strategic initiatives, events, and engagements for CNA’s civilian harm mitigation portfolio, in addition to conducting related research. Verleysen previously worked at the Center for Civilians in Conflict and has expertise in Indonesian civilian-military relations.


Larry Lewis, Principal Research Scientist
Sabrina Verleysen, Senior Specialist