Center for a New American Security

Center for a New American Security
Abbreviation CNAS
Motto An independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies.
Formation 2007
Type Public policy think tank
Headquarters 1152 15th St., Ste. 950
Richard Fontaine[1]
Michèle Flournoy
Revenue: $6,014,305
Expenses: $5,935,485
(FYE June 2014)[2]
GEN David Petraeus at CNAS's annual conference, June 2009

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank established in 2007 by co-founders Michèle Flournoy and Kurt M. Campbell. It specializes in the United States' national security issues. CNAS's stated mission is to "develop strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies that promote and protect American interests and values."[3] CNAS focuses on terrorism and irregular warfare, the future of the U.S. military, the emergence of Asia as a global power center, and the national security implications of natural resource consumption. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg has called CNAS "an indispensable feature on the Washington landscape."[4] Speaking at the CNAS annual conference in June 2009, U.S. Central Command Commander GEN David Petraeus observed that "CNAS has, in a few years, established itself as a true force in think tank and policy-making circles."[5]

The administration of President Barack Obama has hired several CNAS employees for key jobs.[6] Founders Michèle Flournoy and Kurt Campbell formerly served as the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, respectively. In June 2009 The Washington Post suggested, "In the era of Obama... the Center for a New American Security may emerge as Washington's go-to think tank on military affairs."[6] CNAS scholars have included John Nagl,[7] David Kilcullen, Andrew Exum, Thomas E. Ricks, Robert D. Kaplan,[8] and Marc Lynch. CNAS is led by CEO Michèle Flournoy.

CNAS is relatively small, with around 30 employees and a budget under $6 million.[9]

In a speech to the United States Military Academy at West Point on February 25, 2011, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates quoted CNAS President John Nagl and Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow Lieutenant General David Barno, USA (Ret.) for their recommendations on improving promotion policies in the military.[10]

CNAS experts have been quoted in numerous national media outlets, including Foreign Policy,[11] The New York Times,[12] The Washington Post,[13] The Wall Street Journal,[14] The National Interest,[15] The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,[16] C-SPAN,[17] NBC,[18] NPR,[19] CNN,[20] and PBS.[21]


Hillary Clinton speaks at CNAS's rollout event, June 2007

CNAS has released extensive reports on terrorism, irregular warfare, and regional security challenges.

Before joining CNAS, John Nagl served as an active duty officer in both the first Gulf War and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He then was part of the team that wrote FM 3-24, the Army’s counter-insurgency field manual that transformed the way the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were conducted. Since joining CNAS first as a Senior Fellow and then as President, Nagl has continued to delve into counterinsurgency while also publishing papers on other topics, including the need for a permanent corps of Army advisers[22] and strategies for confronting Islamic extremism.[23]

CNAS has also staked out terrain in studying the emergence of Asia as a center of global power, particularly with regards to China. One of the main stated goals of CNAS’s Asia-Pacific Security program is to “devise a future path for America’s engagement of China that can expand bilateral cooperation in areas of shared strategic interest and encourage increasing accountability from the Chinese regime”.[24]

The CNAS U.S.-India Initiative is co-chaired by CNAS Board of Directors members Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State, and Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The stated goal of the Initiative is to help advance growing bilateral ties in areas of mutual interest, including security, economics, energy and climate change, democracy and human rights.[25] On October 27, 2010 at the White House Press Gaggle on the President's Upcoming Trip to India, the CNAS report Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations was referenced in a reporter's question to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.[26]

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey speaking at CNAS, November 2014

In 2010, the Center developed its Cyber Security project, which is co-chaired by Bob Kahn, the co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocols used to transmit information over the Internet; Vice Admiral John Michael McConnell, USN (Ret.), former Director of National Intelligence; Joseph Nye, Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University; and Peter Schwartz, a futurist and business strategist and member of the CNAS Board of Directors.[27] In February 2011, CNAS Vice President and Director of Studies Kristin Lord and Research Associate Travis Sharp argued in The Hill that "increased federal attention to cyber security makes good sense," but "lawmakers must ensure that the U.S. government does not spend aimlessly on cyber security."[28]

CNAS has suggested that one way to contain future military costs would be to fold heavy army units into the National guard and reserves, but military officials have responded that the governors would rather have light units, that are better suited to their emergency needs.[29]


  1. "People". Center for a New American Security. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  2. "Center for a New American Security" (PDF). Foundation Center. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  3. Center for a New American Security, About CNAS
  5. Center for a New American Security, 'About the Center for a New American Security, 2012.
  6. 1 2 "Carlos Lozada -- Setting Priorities for the Afghan War". The Washington Post. June 7, 2009. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  7. Ricks, Thomas E. (January 16, 2008). "High-Profile Officer Nagl to Leave Army, Join Think Tank". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  8. Center for a New American Security, Robert Kaplan.
  9. Yochi J. Dreazen, Obama dips into think tank for talent, Wall Street Journal, 18 November 2008
  10. U.S. Department of Defense, "Speech: As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, West Point, NY Archived April 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., 25 February 2011.
  11. See, for example, Robert Kaplan 'Oman's Renaissance Man', Foreign Policy, 1 March 2011.
  12. "Room for Debate: A Logical, but Difficult, Step". The New York Times. March 22, 2011.
  13. Kaplan, Robert D. (February 27, 2011). "Arab democracy and the return of the Mediterranean world". The Washington Post.
  14. Kaplan, Robert D. (March 26, 2011). "The Middle East Crisis Has Just Begun". The Wall Street Journal.
  15. "America Primed". The National Interest.
  16. The Daily Show, Thomas Ricks, 10 February 2009.
  17. C-SPAN, U.S. Military Intervention in Libya, 23 March 2011.
  18. MSNBC, Meet the Press transcripts, 27 March 2011.
  19. Tom Gjelten, In Libyan Conflict, is Endgame a Stalemate?, NPR, 24 March 2011.
  20. "". CNN.
  21. Center for a New American Security, United States, Arab Leaders Walk Fine Line as Egypt's Power Center Remains Uncertain, 4 February 2011.
  22. "The Pentagon's New Cyber Strategy".
  23. "Cyberspace Threats Often Blur Government Agency Lines".
  24. Center for a New American Security, Asia-Pacific Security
  25. Center for a New American Security India Initiative
  26. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Press Gaggle on the President's Upcoming Trip to India, 27 October 2010.
  27. Center for a New American Security Cyber Security
  28. Kristin M. Lord and Travis Sharp, Cyber sanity, The Hill, 25 February 2011.
  29. Clark, Colin. "Romney Pledges Defense Boost; Analyst Predicts $1 Trillion in DoD Cuts." AOL Defense, 7 October 2011.

External links

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