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.
In response to growing concerns regarding the United States’ ability to outpace adversaries in space and to ensure continued space superiority, the U.S. Congress mandated several space-related reviews and studies in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (FY18 NDAA) (Public Law 115-91). One of these directed the Deputy Secretary of Defense to contract with a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) without close ties to the Air Force “to develop a plan to establish a separate military department responsible for the national security space activities of the Department of Defense.” The Center for Naval Analyses, the sole FFRDC for the Department of the Navy, was selected to develop this independent plan. Learn more.
CNA Case Studies: An Inside Look at Great Analysis
In 2004, an ever-growing number of coalition forces were falling prey to a hidden danger in Iraq. Concealed behind guardrails and road signs, under piles of debris, even within animal carcasses, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had killed 145 coalition forces in just the first half of the year. Gen. John Abizaid wrote in a memo, “IEDs are my number one threat in Iraq. I want a full court press on IEDs.” Within months, CNA would join that effort with a major analytical push to find solutions in the data—solutions as deeply concealed as any camouflaged explosive. Learn more.
In August of 1990, the Iraqi Army amassed on the border of Saudi Arabia. Many believed that Saddam Hussein — who had just barreled through Kuwait — would overrun the Saudi Kingdom before the United States could assemble an adequate deterrent force. So when President George H. W. Bush gave the order to send in the Marines, speed mattered. Learn more.
For the first several years of his career at CNA, Ronald Filadelfo helped the Navy find the most feared denizens of the deep at that time: Soviet submarines. Three decades later, the Navy still calls on Filadelfo for scientific analysis when it worries about what lurks below the surface. But Filadelfo no longer specializes in anti-submarine warfare. And he and the Navy aim to protect — not attack — the objects of his many studies: whales. Learn more.
Recent CNA Research
In this CNA occasional paper, Richard Connolly provides a purchasing power parity (PPP)-based estimate of Russian military expenditure that (a) approximates the real scale of resources allocated to military expenditure in Russia and (b)is readily comparable with PPP-adjusted military expenditure in other countries. Connolly makes several keyarguments. First, the use of PPP-based estimates reveals the level of Russian military expenditure to be considerably higher than market exchange rate-based estimates. Second, PPP-based estimates show that the rate of growth ofRussian military expenditure is slower than that suggested by market exchange rate-based estimates. The rate of growth over the last decade was lower than in other "emerging" powers, such as China and India. Third, after adjusting PPP-based estimates of total military expenditure for imported military equipment, Russia has held asteady position as the world's fourth largest military spender behind the United States, China, and India. Fourth, although Russian military expenditure has grown quickly relative to the US and other high-income countries, such asthe United Kingdom, France, and Japan, it has grown at a slower rate than other low- and middle-income emergingpowers, such as China, India, and Saudi Arabia.
In this CNA occasional paper, Aleksei Ramm, one of Russia's leading military journalists, discusses the evolution and modernization of the Russian Army over the past decade. This report examines the major reforms that redefined the Army's mission and capabilities, including the dramatic reconfiguration of the service's organizational relationships and management system and the extensive modernization of weaponry, C4ISR, and other capabilities. The paper outlines the evolution of Russian Army military technology and the associated changes in how the ground forces execute their tactics, techniques, and procedures today. The report also discusses the implications of these changes for the future operational readiness of the Russian military.
This primer is an effort to address a gap in knowledge about cryptocurrencies and the cryptocurrency ecosystem among the policymaking community and advance the understanding of cryptocurrencies and consideration of their national security implications. Cryptocurrencies are strictly digital currencies, are typically overseen by a decentralized peer-to-peer community, and are secured through cryptography. We use clear, non-technical language to describe complex concepts and demystify overly technical terms in order to explain the technical and economic aspects of cryptocurrency, why they are used, and the benefits and drawbacks to cryptocurrencies compared to conventional currencies—like the US dollar. We conclude by considering some cryptocurrency-related issues of which greater exploration would benefit US national security.
Cryptocurrencies are strictly digital currencies, are typically overseen by a decentralized peer-to-peer community, and are secured through cryptography. Cryptocurrencies have relative benefits for those who engage in illicit activity. This paper includes: (1) a detailed taxonomy and examples of nefarious activities involving cryptocurrencies, such as funding terrorist activity, money laundering, cybercrimes, and regulatory crimes; (2) a discussion of state-actor engagement in the cryptocurrency arena that explores Iranian, North Korean, Russian, and Venezuelan activity in skirting sanctions, mining cryptocurrencies, participating in exchange hacking and ransomware, and using cryptocurrencies to fund information operations; (3) analysis attempting to anticipate the mid-term future of the cryptocurrency ecosystem; and (4) the tactical and strategic challenges and opportunities of cryptocurrencies for US special operations forces.
Proxy warfare—that is, conflict in which a "major power instigates or plays a major role in supporting and directing to a conflict but does only a small portion of the actual fighting itself"—is receiving new attention from policymakers, analysts, and practitioners. This study uses a series of four case studies on US involvement in proxy war (the "Secret War" in Laos, the Contras in Central America, the African Union Mission in Somalia, and the Syrian Defense Forces) to develop a set of key themes. These themes, in turn, form the basis of a set of rules of thumb to guide senior decisionmakers as they contemplate the future use of proxy forces. Finally, this report discusses implications for U.S. Special Operations Forces, which are likely to play an increasingly important role in supporting U.S. proxies.
In this paper, Russian defense industry and arms trade expert Sergey Denisentsev looks at the history, current state, and outlook for defense cooperation between Russia and Venezuela. He notes that before the arrival of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela was not among the Russian defense customers. The attempted coup in 2002 and the ensuing restrictions on sales of US weaponry to the country opened up the Venezuelan defense market to Russian suppliers. This paper reviews the Russian arms transfers that enabled a major modernization of the Venezuelan arms forces under Chavez. Those transfers, however, came to an almost complete halt after Chavez died and an economic crisis broke out in Venezuela in 2013. The latest bout of political crisis that began in January 2019 has given a new lease of life to Russian-Venezuelan defense cooperation. That cooperation no longer involves large weapons contracts, but Russia is providing technical support and advice to the Venezuelan military and security services.
On April 18, 2019, CNA hosted a National Security Seminar to examine Iranian military operations and influence activities in Syria and to discuss the potential ramifications of these actions for the United States and its regional allies. The event convened a panel of subject matter experts from the diplomatic, defense, and academic communities and featured an active audience of US government members. As the US prepares to downsize its Syrian presence to a cohort of 400 troops, Iran is redoubling its commitment to become a long-term power broker in Syria. Seminar participants reviewed how Iran has skillfully exploited the conflict in Syria, deploying hybrid warfare—including military action, influence operations, and diplomatic networking—to insinuate itself into local politics.
In this CNA Occasional Paper, Anatoly Zak, a noted expert on the Russian space program, examines Russia's military and dual-purpose spacecraft. He discusses the resurgence of the Russian space program in the past two decades, both the military and civilian components. The paper identifies different satellite classes operated by both the country's military and the civilian space agency, providing a detailed overview of radar imagery and early warning technologies in service today. Zak provides a detailed description of antisatellite capabilities in Russian service, and goes over some of the significant detriments to further progress, such as corruption and quality control issue in the Russian space service. He argues that the "growing pains" of the Russian space industry in the post-Soviet period could eventually be resolved or at least mitigated, allowing more effective use of available resources, cutting the development time, and producing more reliable systems in the future.
In this CNA Occasional Paper, Dr. Igor Delanoe, Deputy-Head, French-Russian Analytical Center Observo (Moscow), examines the development of Russia's Black Sea Fleet since the 2000s. Dr. Delanoe traces the origins of structural changes that affected the fleet through the State Armaments Program beginning in 2011, the Ukrainian crisis and Moscow's renewed emphasis on Black Sea defense. He examines the Fleet in the context of Russia's renewed presence in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, and discusses new concepts and technologies of growing importance to Russia's forward operating naval squadrons. Today, the Black Sea Fleet appears to be a more flexible and multipurpose naval formation. Its area of responsibility has evolved and is focused on the greater Mediterranean region, tasked with the protection of Russia's southern flank, from the Caspian region to the Levant. Dr. Delanoe also discusses transition from the quality naval procurement of the 2011-2020 plan to mass production in a context of financial pressure and sanctions, arguing that the modernization plan of the Black Sea Fleet has proved more resilient in the face of these challenges.
Law enforcement agencies continue to develop new and innovative strategies to better support and police the communities they serve, from integrating gunshot detection technologies into dispatch systems to improve response times during shootings, to collaborating with local health and social service organizations to address issues such as homelessness or substance abuse in comprehensively ways. Over the past 10 years, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), in partnership with the CNA Institute for Public Research (IPR), has supported law enforcement agencies across the country in implementing innovative policing approaches through the Strategies for Policing Innovation Initiative (SPI, formerly the Smart Policing Initiative). SPI supports not only the development and implementation of innovative policing strategies, but also the research partnerships that result in in-depth analyses and rigorous evaluations of these strategies to advance what is known about effective and efficient policing practices. This report examines SPI's accomplishments since its inception in 2009 and explores some of the major themes across SPI initiatives in both policing and policing research, including the following: Reductions in violent crime, Improved crime analysis capabilities in police agencies, Evolution of research partnerships with SPI sites, Collaborative partnerships with agencies, organizations, and community stakeholders, and Integration of technology into policing.
The 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) makes clear that competing effectively with state adversaries will be the primary focus of the Department of Defense (DOD) going forward. A key element of modern great power competition (GPC) is irregular warfare (IW), and our adversaries are deftly exploiting unconventional methodologies—particularly the use of information and intermediaries (i.e., proxies and surrogates)—as mediums of national influence. In March 2019, CNA hosted a cohort of academic, government, and military experts for a discussion on how special operations forces (SOF) can best lead or support US Government (USG) efforts to compete successfully on a global scale using information operations and intermediary partnerships. Our discussion addressed the following questions: How can past USG experiences of competing in the information space and engaging with proxy actors inform our approaches to GPC today? What lessons should we draw from unconventional activities used during the Cold War? How should the US conceptualize the use of information and intermediaries given modern advancements in communication technology and social media? What do trends in digital connectivity, along with technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, portend for the future of information and influence activities? How does the lack of a US lead agency for information operations affect the role of SOF in the information battlespace? Which aspects of global information activities should SOF seek, lead, and support? Are there aspects that SOF should avoid? If so, what are they and why? How should the USG envision the role of state and non-state proxy actors in the context of current and future global competition? Should this be a significant feature of future USG strategy and policy? Why or why not? To encourage a frank exchange of ideas, the conversations summarized in the following sections were held under the Chatham House rule of non-attribution. No source citations are included in this document, and no speakers are identified. In the instances where we include quotes from the event, the function is solely to capture compelling phrasing; these quotes should be considered closely paraphrased and should not be interpreted as official statements. The event consisted of three main sessions—a keynote and two panels, each with a subsequent question-and-answer segment—the key themes of which are synthesized and summarized here. All presentations and discussions were unclassified.
For four years, the United States provided the Saudi-led coalition with military equipment and assistance used in its campaign in Yemen. During that time, the US has wrestled with and debated both the legality and wisdom of its support. After four years of conflict in Yemen, the US should be asking: what lessons can be learned from four years of support to the Saudi-led coalition? In light of the significant civilian protection concerns seen in Yemen, is there a way to get better outcomes from security assistance activities? This report aims to answer those questions. We analyze US support to the Saudi-led coalition and identify two gaps in policy and information, respectively. We also examine the timely issue of better protecting health care in the midst of armed conflict. In this report, we provide a policy framework for including civilian protection considerations as part of security assistance.
Wargaming, in what may be called its modern form, has been around for well over 200 years.1 Systems thinking and its more complex variant, systems dynamics, have been prominent techniques in management science since the late 1950s.2 This paper explores the connections between these two powerful tools. It addresses the questions of how wargaming can support those who develop and use systems models, and how such systems models can, in turn, help those who design, control, and play in wargames. These subjects are especially timely because today's theater commanders and their staffs are challenged to conduct—and assess the effectiveness of—"influence operations." The nature of these sorts of operations is always changing, and measures of their effectiveness are at best controversial and at worst, non-existent. Wargaming and systems thinking can help. Our research and analysis of this subject leads us to conclude that wargames and wargaming techniques can help those who develop systems thinking models of operational and strategic interest. Similarly, systems thinking techniques can help wargame designers construct better wargames and explore techniques related to social and political interactions among nations and groups. This paper is intended to help analysts and wargamers understand systems thinking and how it relates to wargaming. Because many in our target audience have at least a basic grasp of the nature of wargaming, but less understanding of the nuances of systems thinking, the first half of the paper is in the form of an overview or tutorial about systems thinking and how to do it. We present several examples and some simple guidelines for how to apply systems thinking to building models of human organizations and processes. The remainder of the paper explores the relationships among systems thinking and wargaming in practical terms. It describes how systems thinking can be used to enhance game design and execution, largely by providing a framework and approach for identifying important processes that a game must represent. A game is inherently a dynamic system model in which the game's players make decisions based on their pre-existing mental models, drawing on their internal experiences and understanding as well as both written and numerical databases. In all but the simplest games, the goal is to examine not only player decision-making processes, but also the dynamic relationships between the various decisions players make. Understanding the dynamics of an interacting system can lead to the discovery of things that would not otherwise be revealed by a linear, prosaic, investigation of the topic. These "perversions" of the expected, which arise in games more frequently than in other forums, stem from several different feed forward and feedback loops, along with unspoken or unanticipated player actions. It is here that systems thinking models can provide unique support for gamers. By depicting clearly the interwoven network of relationships and interactions among complex elements of the environment, systems thinking models can provide wargamers a basis for structuring key elements of the game design and the game mechanics. Systems thinking models can also support both the players and controllers of a game during execution. Wargaming and systems thinking are thus a matched pair of techniques, which, when used together, can help advance the state of the art of operational and strategic planning and assessment.
The United States must prepare to compete with Russia without a treaty that verifiably constrains intercontinental-range nuclear weapons. This coming challenge stems from three changes in US-Russian relations. First, the United States has officially transitioned from strategic partnership to strategic competition as the basis for its Russia policy. By acknowledging Russia's revisionist intentions, the 2018 National Defense Strategy codified an assessment that took root in the United States and many other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states after Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has garnered more support every year. This assessment is accompanied by growing appreciation that Russia's political-military strategy poses a full-spectrum foreign and defense policy challenge for the United States. "Russia is challenging US and NATO interests below the threshold of armed conflict, while simultaneously fielding high-end forces to make the barrier to entry for war extremely costly and dangerous for the United States," explains a former US senior defense official.1 In a major departure from the 1990s, 2000s, and part of the current decade, the United States is now developing a political-military strategy to counter Russia. Second, in another change from the past 25 years, Russia is in the final stages of its nuclear modernization program. It fields a modern force of intercontinental-range, commonly described as "strategic," nuclear forces, and is capable of increasing its deployed arsenal. The United States is also modernizing its nuclear forces, albeit on a different schedule. Both countries are expanding their strategic-military postures to include non-nuclear systems capable of achieving strategic effects. Strategic-military interactions between the United States and Russia in the next two decades will be markedly different than the previous two, with multiple acquisition, development, and deployment pathways available to both. Third, the nuclear arms control treaty framework the United States and Russia have built and sustained over decades is on the precipice. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will expire next decade. It will reach its 10-year duration in February 2021, though the United States and Russia have the option of extending it for up to 5 years. As of early 2019, the prospects for New START extension are uncertain. Regardless of when New START expires, there is a strong possibility that a follow-on treaty will not be forthcoming. Recognizing these changing conditions, the report explores risks, uncertainties, and US policy options for a world in which there is significant competition between Washington and Moscow, but no bilateral strategic nuclear arms control treaty.
Over the past decade, China's presence in the Middle East and Indian Ocean has expanded significantly. While great attention has been paid to China's growing economic presence as part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative, in reality, China's activities in the region had been increasing well before the start of Xi Jinping's signature policy initiative. Moreover, this growth has occurred across a wide range of domains, including military, diplomatic, economic, and even informational. How is China's presence in the Middle East and Western Indian Ocean evolving, and what does it mean for the United States and its equities in the region? This study examines China's growing presence in 23 states throughout the Middle East, East Africa, and Western Indian Ocean. It analyzes the drivers of China's growing presence in this region, as well as China's various diplomatic, informational, military, and economic domains. By doing so, this study seeks to move the discussion of China's growing global activities beyond discussions of Belt and Road, provide a more comprehensive understanding of how China's presence in the Middle East and Western Indian Ocean region is evolving, and improve our understanding of what these changes mean for the U.S. Navy and U.S. national security interests more broadly.
A review of 30 years of analyses identifies military organizational "pathologies" that result in inefficiency, dysfunction and dissolution.
In this annotated briefing, we examine the relationship between colocation and reenlistment in the Marine Corps. This analysis is part of a larger CNA project titled "The Effects of Personnel Policy Changes on Budgets and Manpower Inventories" sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) (ASN(FM&C)).
This document provides the technical background for the analysis presented in the CNA annotated briefing, The Relationship Between Colocation and Reenlistment in the Marine Corps (Vol. 1). We describe our data-cleaning procedures, including the observations that were excluded from our analysis. We describe how we created the reenlistment and colocation/marital status variables. We outline our choice of model and estimation technique and identify the control variables included in our model. We present the summary statistics of all variables included in our estimates as well as our estimation results. The annotated briefing contains the summary results and provides conclusions and recommendations for our sponsor, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management and Comptroller (ASN(FM&C)).
Despite increases in the female share of Navy accessions and in women's entry qualifications over the last several decades, growth in female representation in the inventory has not kept pace. We examine one specific driver of the female share of the inventory: differential losses between bootcamp and reaching the fleet by gender. We find that the issue of higher female loss rates is not a general one. Rather, it is concentrated in highly technical ratings, such as the Advanced Electronics and Computer Field, Nuclear Field, and some Cryptologic Technician specialties. Evidence from loss codes and reenlistment recommendation codes suggests that health (physical and mental) and family issues—not behavioral problems—may be behind these higher female losses. Yet, the timing of these health- and family-related losses is puzzling given that these Sailors successfully completed bootcamp. We conclude with a set of recommendations that, if adopted, could provide the Navy with a more detailed understanding of why there is a sizable gender gap in attrition rates in these highly technical ratings.
In this CNA occasional paper, Russian military journalists Konstantin Bogdanov and Ilya Kramnik look at the development of the Russian Navy in the context of the ongoing modernization of the Russian armed forces by studying the causes, contradictions, and consequences that affect the navy and the fulfillment of its mission. This report examines the status, mission set, and development strategy of the Russian Navy by showing the continuity that links modern concepts and current constraints to the views and issues of the late Soviet era. The paper analyzes naval modernization in Russia over the past 30 years and examines key obstacles that have repeatedly kept the navy from implementing its ambitious renewal strategies. The report also provides a plausible and realistic mission set that the Russian Navy could fulfill under its current development guidelines.
The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season demonstrated that when extreme events impact large, densely concentrated populations, survival is dependent on the ability to quickly reestablish for critical lifeline supply chains such as fuel, water, and food. The more extreme the event, the more dense the population, and the more distant the location from sources of supply - the greater the dependence on the preexisting network from human survival. This report consists primarily of case studies. These are evidence-based stories that can advance our understanding of how complex adaptive systems of humans, infrastructure, information, and the natural world interact. There are positive cases where informed understanding of these interactions led to creative and effective interventions. But there are also examples from 2017 where misunderstanding pushed the entire system closer to catastrophe.
In this CNA Occasional Paper, Russian East Asia expert Vasily Kashin examines the current state of Russian-Chinese defense and security cooperation, Russia's approach to developing it, and the possible outcomes of a further Russia-China rapprochement. He highlights the historical antecedents to the unprecedently long period of close ties between the two countries, focusing on the mutual advantages derived by both countries from defense industrial cooperation. The paper describes the gradually depending nature of bilateral military cooperation across a number of domains, including arms sales and joint exercises. The paper also addresses Russia's evolving views on China's increasing global role and the potential for an even closer Russia-China strategic alliance in the future, concluding that although the two countries are not ready for Western-style cooperation in defense technology, they are gradually moving toward a security partnership characterized by greater integration and interdependence.
This report examines commonly held concerns about AI and autonomy in war, as reported in the media or voiced in international venues. We find that the overall premises for these concerns are either out of step with the current state of the technology, or they do not consider the way military systems are actually used (which is as part of a larger process for delivering the use of force). These concerns are not spurious—they can lead to much-needed debates and discussions regarding ethical issues of this emerging technology. However, the real risk in a military context (expressed in operational outcomes such as civilian casualties and fratricide) is low from these common concerns.
In this CNA Occasional Paper, noted Russian military journalist Alexei Nikolsky analyzes the macroeconomic conditions and budgetary constraints that affect Russia's military expenditures. The paper contains data on the main programs that attempt to overcome the current budgetary constraints for financing the State Armaments Program (SAP). It assesses the rationality of SAP priorities and highlights the financial and non-financial constraints that hamper its implementation. The report highlights examples of successful and unsuccessful procurement programs and discusses the reasons for these successes and failures. The report also discusses the importance of export programs for domestic procurement, the involvement of the private sector and academic institutions in critically important R&D programs, the impact of Western sanctions on the implementation of the SAP and the extent to which industrial programs have succeeded in counteracting these sanctions.
The Chief of Navy Chaplains asked for analytical support to help the Chaplain Corps (CHC) refine its approaches to manpower and personnel management. Based on input from CHC subject matter experts and data analysis, we found that the CHC currently lacks: (1) institutionalized, documented processes for supporting and providing CHC input to manpower management decisions; (2) consistent staffing standards; and (3) adequate emphasis on manpower management in training and development. To address these deficiencies, we developed community-specific metrics to support the assessment of risks associated with proposed billet cuts or realignments. These metrics are intended to be applied to defined geographic areas called cooperative ministry vicinities and to capture the impact of taking into account junior and senior chaplains' roles, the mandate to serve families, and personnel deployment patterns. We also recommended changes to CHC training and development to support the appropriate use of these metrics.
In this CNA Occasional Paper, Anton Lavrov, a noted Russian expert on military air operations, examines the successes and failures of Russia's air operation in Syria. He identifies the key structural changes and capability upgrades that made the operation possible. The operation allowed the Russian military to test new equipment and to rotate personnel through the theater of operations in order to gain battle experience. As it continued, the force became more effective, as its leaders learned how to operate in a battle environment for the first time in almost 30 years. The Russian Aerospace Forces' actions in the conflict increased the combat effectiveness of Russia's small contingent of forces in Syria and allowed government forces to attain success on the ground. The conduct of the operation can be used as a means of understanding the capabilities and tactics that the force may be expected to use in future operations.
On March 13, 2018, CNA convened Innovative Approaches to Addressing Violent Crime: Technology, Intelligence, and Analytics—its tenth Executive Session on Policing. A renewed focus on violent crime has brought to light the many innovative approaches that law enforcement agencies across the nation are using to address the problem. In response to the recent uptick in violent crime rates in some cities, CNA organized this Executive Session to review how technology, intelligence, and analytics are being used to help fight violent crime. The Executive Session also provided examples of technological and analytical approaches currently in use and discussed how these promising practices can address violent crime.
In this study, CNA uses a dynamic modeling approach to analyze the retention impacts of the recent change in the military retirement system. Our focus is on a lump-sum Continuation Pay that sailors receive in the middle of their careers. This Continuation Pay is designed to be able to offset the retention decline that results from some of the other retirement changes, and we find that it can do so. We also discuss some of the ways in which Continuation Pay is likely to interact with other Navy force-shaping policies.
The term meme was coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins to explore the ways in which ideas spread between people. With the introduction of the internet, the term has evolved to refer to culturally resonant material—a funny picture, an amusing video, a rallying hashtag—spread online, primarily via social media. This CNA self-initiated exploratory study examines memes and the role that memetic engagement can play in U.S. government (USG) influence campaigns. We define meme as "a culturally resonant item easily shared or spread online," and develop an epidemiological model of inoculate / infect / treat to classify and analyze ways in which memes have been effectively used in the online information environment. Further, drawing from our discussions with subject matter experts, we make preliminary observations and identify areas for future research on the ways that memes and memetic engagement may be used as part of USG influence campaigns.
U.S. Navy planners should assume that the PLA Navy's presence in the western Indian Ocean will grow, and that new bases and places will be organized to support its expanded presence. U.S. authorities can no longer assume unencumbered freedom of action when electing to posture U.S. naval forces offshore of the Horn of Africa and other East African hotspots. If China's interests are involved and differ from Washington's, the Chinese could dispatch their own naval forces to the water offshore of the country in question. The U.S. Navy faced similar circumstances between 1968 and 1991, when the United States and the Soviet Union competed for friends, political influence, maritime access, and bases in the western Indian Ocean region. This paper briefly discusses this period in order to provide some historical context for what might occur in the future. As Mark Twain purportedly quipped, "History does not repeat, but it often rhymes."
This report examines the issue of human control with regard to lethal autonomy, an issue of significant interest in United Nations discussions in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) forum. We analyze this issue in light of lessons and best practices from recent U.S. operations. Based on this analysis, we make the case for a wider framework for the application of human control over the use of force. This report recommends that CCW discussions currently focusing on process considerations, such as human control, should instead focus on outcome—namely, mitigation of inadvertent engagements. This allows consideration of a more complete set of benefits and risks of lethal autonomy and better management of risks. The report also describes best practices that can collectively serve as a safety net for the use of lethal autonomous weapons. It concludes with concrete recommendations for how the international community can more effectively address the risk of inadvertent engagements from lethal autonomy.
On January 18, 2018, CNA convened a roundtable to discuss France's strategic interests in the Indian Ocean. Nilanthi Samaranayake, Director of CNA's Indian Ocean and South Asia Security Program, framed the discussion by noting the expanding role of extraregional actors operating in the Indian Ocean, including Japan, China, and France. The United States, Japan, India, and Australia have revamped their "Quad" discussions over the past year. However, Ms. Samaranayake noted, France has a range of territorial, economic, and security interests in the Indian Ocean, and the roundtable offered an opportunity to examine those interests and potential opportunities to deepen U.S.-French cooperation in the region.
A key goal of the Navy's Digital Warfare Office (DWO) is to use the emerging field of big data analytics to tackle numerous challenges facing the Navy. DWO asked CNA to examine the issue of Super Hornet (F/A-18E/F strike fighter) readiness and recommend data-driven solutions that leverage underutilized sensor data. CNA proposed a pilot program that integrated sensor data across maintenance levels to expedite repairs of aviation parts. The five-month pilot program began on July 10, 2017, at the Fleet Readiness Center at Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and was implemented on APG-65 and APG-73 radars. We assessed the pilot program through several metrics and found that, during the program, repair time was significantly decreased and repair efficiency increased. Our findings suggest that sensor data integration across maintenance levels may considerably improve F/A-18 readiness.
In honor of CNA's 75th Anniversary, we hosted a series of "Spotlight" seminars, presentations focused on key moments from CNA's history recalled by those who have lived it. One such seminar focused on an analysis of Soviet naval strategy through open-source techniques. Bradley Dismukes was intimately involved in this work from the 1970s through the 1980s. This report is his retelling of these events as presented to an audience of CNAers and guests on November 7, 2017.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has used media as an important instrument and lever of influence. The role of media in promoting Russian foreign policy and exerting the influence of President Vladimir Putin has become increasingly visible since the conflict Ukraine and other domestic and international confrontations began. CNA has undertaken an effort to map the Russian media environment and examine Russian decision-making as it relates to the media. This report provides an overview of the role that the media plays in Russian foreign policy. Specifically, we examine Russia's media environment, Russia's decision-making related to media and messaging, including the drivers and boundaries of that decision-making. We evaluate the role of Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and finally, we examine the role that Russia's media and messaging plays in external influence. In addition, we highlight that while media is a key instrument of influence, culture, politics, and business are also important in broader Russian influence efforts abroad. Furthermore, this report outlines the way that decision-making and messaging is carried out by Vladimir Putin and his closest advisors through a series of scenarios that range from crisis to steady state. Finally, we provide overarching takeaways for policy makers and the international community to consider in understanding Russia's media environment and Russian decision-making in the media.
In this study, we evaluate the feasibility of increasing the number of graduates from the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program (ChalleNGe) who could be employable in one of the four military services. Because of the Department of Defense's (DOD's) and the services' quality goals, this requires that a significant portion of ChalleNGe graduates have high school diplomas and score in the upper 50th percentiles on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). Our methodology is three pronged: (1) we interviewed program directors, (2) we developed a test linking that allows us to predict AFQT scores based on ChalleNGe cadets' scores on the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE, a registered trademark of Data Recognition Corporation), and (3) we analyzed the test scores and attrition behavior of those ChalleNGe graduates who joined the services. We ultimately determine that increasing DOD employability would require changes to the ChalleNGe program; the program directors would have to carefully consider whether such changes align with the program's philosophy and mission.
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