Lt. Cdr. Steven Wills, Ph.D.
Research Scientist


Steven Wills is an expert in U.S. Navy strategy and policy, and U.S. Navy surface warfare programs and platforms. His research interests include the history of U.S. Navy strategy development over the Cold War and immediate, post-Cold War era, and the history of the post-World War II U.S. Navy surface fleet.

Prior to joining CNA, Wills completed a Ph.D in military history from Ohio University, and had a 20 year career as an active duty U.S. Navy officer. He served on a variety of small and medium surface combatants including an assignment as the executive officer (XO) of a Mine Countermeasures ship (MCM), and held shore-based billets at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD), and at NATO Joint Forces Command, Naples, Italy (JFCNP.)

Wills' articles have appeared in the United States Naval War College Review, the United States Naval Institute News,,,, and He has delivered presentations at Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) events. Wills holds a Ph.D and M.A. in History from Ohio University, an M.A. in National Security Studies from the United States Naval War College, and a B.A. in History from Miami University, Oxford, OH.


July 5, 2022

'A powerful signal:' What it means to send two more DDGs to Spain

May 19, 2020

Steven Wills says, "You can do a lot to hold down disease."

USNI News: "Small Crews, Technical Complexity Makes Operating Modern Warships in Pandemic Tough"

September 20, 2019

Steven Wills says, "China is probably seeking to fortify that whole area, so keeping a U.S. presence there keeps a check on Chinese operations."

Foreign Policy: "Iran-Saudi Crisis Resurrects an Old Question: Does the U.S. Need to Be There at All?"

August 5, 2019

Lt. Cdr. Steven Wills writes, "The LCS class was a great leap forward, and in retrospect, it may have pushed too many new frontiers for either the Navy or the 1960s-era defense acquisition system to support."

USNI Proceedings: "7 Myths About LCS"

July 25, 2019

Steven Wills says, "Today, European nations are producing 'frigates' that just recently you or I would call 'destroyers,' based on size and, somewhat, on capability."

Defense News: "In a Naval Confrontation with Iran, Great Britain Can Find Neither Ships nor Friends"

July 17, 2018

Steven Wills writes, “The NATO Alliance must return to a deterrent posture similar to that of the Cold War in order to prevent potential Russian aggression.”

CIMSEC: “A New Gap in the High North and Forward Defense Against Russian Naval Power”