Our Research

CNA pioneered the field of operations research and analysis more than 70 years ago and, today, applies its efforts to a broad range of national security, defense, and public interest issues including education, homeland security, and air traffic management. Browse our publication database using the yearly archives link on the left. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Try the site search box in the upper right corner of this page. If you still need help locating a document, please contact us at inquiries@cna.org.

CNA operates on the principle of conducting honest, accurate, usable research to inform the important work of public policy decision makers—a principle that is never compromised. At CNA we:

  • Maintain absolute objectivity. In our investigations, analyses, and findings, we test hypotheses, carefully guard against personal biases and preconceptions, challenge our own findings, and are uninfluenced by what a client would like to hear.
  • Apply imaginative, innovative techniques. We approach every problem with an open mind and go only where the facts lead us.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of issues. We analyze all relevant aspects of an issue and look for results that not only answer questions but inform decision making.
  • Are process driven and results oriented. We carefully maintain rigorous, ethical standards of research and analysis and work aggressively to complete projects on time and within budget.
  • Are open, direct, and clear. We keep clients informed about our procedures and progress – in language that is unambiguous and understandable.

Recent CNA Research


June 30, 2016

CNA developed an independent Discrete-Event Simulation model to evaluate and assess the effect of alternative sea/shore flow policies. In this study, we compare the results of our model with those of the Navy's Sea/Shore Flow Model. We studied several enlisted communities to understand the impact of increased sea tour length on sea manning. We observed improvements in average sea manning with longer sea tours, but, in many cases, the improvement was not statistically significant. Our key insights in this study follow. A single policy should not be applied to all communities because they are very different. Therefore, increasing the length of sea tours may not affect sea manning much for some communities. Navy manning is a result of complex interactions among factors, making variability inevitable. Policy improvement can lead to a more steady manning level, but the variability remains, even if the system is optimized. In building a Discrete-Event Simulation model, we discovered key factors that should be included in the Navy's Sea/Shore Flow Model, such as initial assignment of sea versus shore, advancement, and short-term versus long-term impact of policy change.

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June 30, 2016

This study analyzes the cognitive and noncognitive development of cadets participating in the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program (ChalleNGe). It analyzes data from the spring FY15 class of cadets at seven ChalleNGe sites and draws conclusions regarding how participation in ChalleNGe affects both cognitive and noncognitive growth. It also looks at the relationship between cognitive and noncognitive measures and their ability to predict program completion and test score improvement. Using data on cadets' scores on the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) and cadets' responses to survey questions gauging their noncognitive skills, our analysis reveals that ChalleNGe cadets, on average, experience significant improvements in both their cognitive and noncognitive skills. In addition, cognitive skills are important determinants of final noncognitive skills, suggesting that ChalleNGe should continue its efforts to develop both skill sets simultaneously. We also found notable gender differences and that age is an important predictor of program completion.

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June 30, 2016

The Joint Logistics Enterprise (JLEnt) comprises a diverse group of entities that will work together in crisis response; they may have different motivations, organizational structures, and individual goals. Uniting and coordinating different groups toward a common objective can be challenging, and there are often—if not always— complexities due to politics and local perspectives. The Joint Staff J-4, Directorate for Logistics, created the Advancing Globally Integrated Logistics Effort (AGILE) as a multiyear campaign of wargames to help address the challenges of a JLEnt crisis response. One goal for this campaign is to understand how information is transferred and disseminated to participating JLEnt members in order to improve the effectiveness and value of the JLEnt during a crisis event. CNA examined the responses to six vastly different crisis events through the lens of social networking, looking for lessons learned, and focusing on social/organizational theories. The results of this study will inform stakeholders of possible best practices that can be refined and tested in future AGILE wargames.

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June 24, 2016

In November 2012, then president Hu Jintao declared that China's objective was to become a strong or great maritime power. This report, based on papers written by China experts for this CNA project, explores that decision and the implications it has for the United States. It analyzes Chinese thinking on what a maritime power is, why Beijing wants to become a maritime power, what shortfalls it believes it must address in order to become a maritime power, and when it believes it will become a maritime power (as it defines the term). The report then explores the component pieces of China's maritime power—its navy, coast guard, maritime militia, merchant marine, and shipbuilding and fishing industries. It also addresses some policy options available to the U.S. government to prepare for—and, if deemed necessary, mitigate— the impact that China's becoming a maritime power would have for U.S. interests.

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June 16, 2016

This report was prepared in response to a request from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission for a study on China's efforts to combat terrorism. It analyzes (1) China's evolving definition and perception of its terrorist threat, (2) China's strategy and policies for combating terrorism, (3) the institutional infrastructure that executes China's counterterrorism policies, (4) China's evolving approach to international cooperation in counterterrorism, and (5) the opportunities for, and challenges of, U.S.-China cooperation on countering terrorism.

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May 31, 2016

Transmission pipelines function to transport petroleum products over long distances to connect locations where these products are produced or refined to demand centers. The development of Marcellus shale gas with hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania has been accompanied by several proposals for new transmission pipelines. At least eight of these proposed transmission pipeline projects will cross the Delaware River Basin (DRB) to bring natural gas produced from the Marcellus shale play to demand centers on the East Coast, or otherwise connect to the larger petroleum products pipeline network. Each proposed interstate pipeline must undergo a review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which includes an environmental impact analysis. The potential environmental impacts of pipeline construction include land cover change, deforestation, sedimentation and erosion, water quality degradation, stream degradation, wetland loss, and air emissions, among others. In this report, we investigate the cumulative land cover change impacts for eight proposed transmission pipelines within the DRB, which total 322 miles in length. Specifically, using geographic information systems (GIS) methods, we investigated total land cover change, loss of forest and wetland area, and stream crossings for the eight proposed projects. We found that during construction, the pipelines' rights-of-way will impact 2,977 acres, including roughly 1,060 acres of forest, and 41 acres of wetlands. The pipelines' permanent rights-ofway will impact 1,328 acres, including roughly 450 acres of forest, and 22 acres of wetlands. In addition, we identified 175 likely stream crossings where a proposed pipeline route will cross a perennial stream.

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May 6, 2016

In this report, we consider two potential changes to the admission criteria of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program (ChalleNGe)—limiting the ages for admission and introducing a standardized test for admission—both with the aim of maximizing cadets' growth at ChalleNGe. Restricting the eligible ages could optimize the potential for noncognitive growth; a minimum admission score could maximize cognitive improvement. We synthesize the literature in these areas and ultimately determine that neither change is recommendable. There are age-related variables that affect noncognitive development, making it less likely to occur at younger ages and thus more likely to be significantly improved at ChalleNGe. However, we do not recommend excluding older, at-risk youth from the program based solely on the desire to achieve maximum noncognitive growth. In addition, a standardized test score is insufficiently accurate as a representation of true ability to be used as an admission criterion.

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May 4, 2016

This project, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, provides greater understanding of the equities and drivers fueling water insecurity in the Brahmaputra River basin. After conducting research in Dhaka, New Delhi, and Beijing, CNA offers recommendations for key stakeholders to consider at the subnational, bilateral, and multilateral levels to increase cooperation in the basin. These findings lay the foundation for policymakers in China, India, and Bangladesh to discuss steps that help manage and resolve Brahmaputra resource competition, thereby strengthening regional security.

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For more CNA research, click here.