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


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 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”

May 15, 2018

On May 15, CNA and the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) will host the fourth annual CIMSEC Forum for Authors and Readers (CFAR). Read more.

January 11, 2018

Steven Wills writes, "[The Littoral Combat Ship] makes an ideal patrol platform for counternarcotics and counterpiracy missions because of its shallow draft, high speed, and large helicopter, unmanned aircraft and boat facilities."

Real Clear Defense: "LCS: Beyond the Modules"

November 23, 2017

Steven Wills writes, "While analysts tend to view gray zone warfare as a modern innovation, a departure from an older and more traditional form of waging war, it was in fact readily familiar to previous generations."

War on the Rocks: "Franklin D. Roosevelt, 'Gray Zone' Warrior"

August 7, 2017

Breaking Defense quotes CNA analyst Steven Wills, Ph.D. in “LCS Lives: They Still Count in Age of Frigates”