David L. Knoll, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist


David Knoll is a Senior Research Scientist at CNA's Center for Stability and Development, where he focuses on irregular warfare (IW), military innovation, and Great Power Competition (GPC). David's research is primarily for US Marine Corps, Navy, and special operations forces (SOF) sponsors. Selected current and recent study topics include the creation of a campaign plan for the US Navy in the Gray Zone, an examination of China's IW strategy, and the development of concepts for USMC-SOF cooperation in GPC. David has also studied military innovation and IW at the non-state level. For example, in 2017 David examined the strategies and tactics of Islamic State groups in order to develop a framework for understanding the Islamic State's way of war. He has also studied the impact of non-state actor use of commercial off the shelf technology on the future operating environment. In addition to his project work, David serves as CNA's Scientific Analyst to the Office of the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations at Headquarters Marine Corps.

Prior to joining CNA, David was a Rosenthal Fellow, serving as a Pakistan Country Officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, briefing military and civilian leaders on U. S. security interests in South Asia. He also served as Research Director for former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's final book, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West. David's doctoral work focused on military innovation and advanced a new theory on the impact of the internet on non-state armed groups' communication and military innovation diffusion. He collaborated with the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) at the Department of Defense, where he developed a unique geospatial methodology to track the diffusion of IED technology during the Iraq War. David completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia and has an MA and PhD in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. David's published work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, TIME, The National Interest, The Diplomat, Dawn, and The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs.


January 16, 2018

David Knoll says, "Looking at non-state actor drone operations in the last 2-3 years, I would expect to see more efforts to launch swarm drone attacks by non-state groups in the future."

The National Interest: "Could This be the U.S. Military's Secret Weapon to Stop a 'Swarm' Strike?"

September 20, 2017

Defense News quotes CNA analyst David Knoll, Ph.D. in "Virtual Reality, Drones and 3-D Printing Drive Terrorist Innovation"

September 20, 2017

Inside Defense quotes CNA analyst David Knoll, Ph.D. in "Naval Analyst: 3D Printing 'Will Challenge' U.S. Military"

August 7, 2017

RealClearLife quotes CNA analysts Vera Zakem and David Knoll, Ph.D. in “How Tech Companies Are Fighting the Digital War Against ISIS”

July 10, 2017

CNA releases the eighth episode of CNA Talks, a new podcast on current affairs. CNA analysts David Knoll, Ph.D., Larry Lewis, Ph.D.,  and Zack Gold discuss the findings and implications of newly released CNA paper, Decade of War: Applying Past Lessons to the Counter-ISIS Campaign. Listen to this episode.

March 21, 2017

CNA releases the fifth episode of CNA Talks, a new podcast on current affairs. Dr. Eric Thompson moderated a discussion on ISIS’s use of social media, drones, tunnels and more with Jonathan Schroden, Ph.D., David Knoll, Ph.D., Pamela Faber and Zack Gold

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