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CNA Talks: A National Security Podcast

CNA’s experts understand today’s complex and dynamic national security environment. On CNA Talks, you’ll find analysis of globe-shaping conflicts, foreign policy and shifting alliances, regional breakdowns, pandemics and other health crises, environmental disasters, homeland security concerns, and the future of strategic competition. Follow CNA Talks to go behind the headlines and learn from data-driven, objective, discussions on the factors shaping today’s national security landscape.
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CNA Talks: A National Security Podcast
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Jun 22, 2022

Since the end of the Cold War, the threat of nuclear weapons has largely faded from popular consciousness. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats have brought the issue back into focus.

In this episode of CNA Talks, we are discussing nuclear policy and strategy, and how things have shifted since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Experts

Timothy McDonnell is a research analyst in CNA's Strategy and Policy Analysis program, where he studies nuclear weapons policy, and nuclear strategy.

Mary Chesnut is an Associate Research Analyst in CNA’s Russia Studies Program, where she studies Russian nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy.

Further Reading

Prevailing Under the Nuclear Shadow: A New Framework for U.S. Escalation Management

Russian Strategy for Escalation Management: Key Debates and Players in Military Thought

Jun 8, 2022

Since the start of the global war on terror in 2001, U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) have been laser-focused on counterterrorism. But as the Department of Defense shifts its priorities to great-power competition Special Operations Command (SOCOM), is adapting to fit this new mission.

In this episode of CNA Talks, experts on Special Operations Forces sit down to discuss the Special Operations Command’s Vision and Strategy document.

Biographies

Jonathan Schroden is the Director of CNA's Special Ops Research Program. He recently directed a congressionally mandated assessment of special operations force structure.

Thomas Trask is a Senior Fellow in CNA’s Countering Threats and Challenges Program and a former Vice Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

Alexander Powell is a Research Scientist with CNA’s Countering Threats and Challenges Program. He is an expert on terrorist group tactics, counterterrorism, and special operations forces

Jun 3, 2022

This episode originally aired on September 3, 2020.

Sometimes truth is more interesting than fiction. Christine Fox was a CNA analyst working at the Navy's legendary fighter school in Miramar, California when a Hollywood producer decided she'd be the perfect inspiration for Tom Cruise's love interest in the 1986 blockbuster "Top Gun." But that was just the start of Fox's incredible career -- she'd go on to become the most senior woman at the Pentagon, serving under multiple defense secretaries. In this episode, she talks about her role in the "Top Gun" legacy, and what it means to her to have been a trailblazing woman in national security. Hear more from Christine Fox: Analysis in Combat: The Legacy of Desert Storm

May 25, 2022

Drones once an exclusive tool of the military, are spreading throughout our society. Hobbyists use them for photography, businesses are exploring them as a tool to make deliveries, and local and state governments are exploring how they could be used for public safety. But at the same time, we’ve seen the rise of another new paradigm, the threat of cyberattacks. How can we ensure that these technologies are implemented in ways that increase public safety while ensuring that they are safe and secure? In this episode, CNA analysts Steven Habicht, Adam Monsalve, and Addam Jordan discuss their award-winning research on unmanned aerial systems.  

Steven Habicht is the director of CNA’s Center for Enterprise Systems Modernization.

Addam Jordan is the Chief Scientist of CNA’s Center for Enterprise Systems Modernization.

Adam Monsalve is a Lead Cybersecurity and Unmanned Aerial Systems Analyst.

CNA's Center for Data Management and Analytics: https://www.cna.org/centers-and-divisions/ipr/dma

CNA's Center for Enterprise Systems Modernization: https://www.cna.org/centers-and-divisions/ipr/esm

 

May 11, 2022

Like many militaries, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) played a role in their COVID-19 relief efforts. What do these operations show us about the PLA’s domestic and international capabilities?

In this episode of CNA Talks, Heidi Holz and Brian Waidelich discuss their recent report on this topic.

Heidi Holz is a Senior Research Scientist in the CNA China Studies program. Her research interests include PRC maritime policies and activities, and Chinese military doctrine and operations.

Brian Waidelich is a Research Scientist in CNA's Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Program. His research focuses on the People's Liberation Army (PLA) organization and Indo-Pacific maritime and space security issues.

Rx PLA: The PLA Medical System’s Role in China’s Efforts to Fight COVID-19

CNA InDepth: Tonga Aid

Apr 27, 2022

As China seeks to expand its presence in the Arctic, it is important for observers to understand its motivations and how it fits into its larger global strategy.

In this episode CNA analysts Heidi Holz and Andrew Taffer join John Stimpson, to discuss what the arctic means to Beijing, what it hopes to accomplish there and some unexpected obstacles to its objectives.

Heidi Holz is a Senior Research Scientist in the CNA China Studies program. Her research interests include PRC maritime policies and activities, and Chinese military doctrine and operations.

Andrew Taffer is a Research Scientist Indo-Pacific Security Affairs program.

Apr 13, 2022

China has consistently used foreign direct investment to increase its power and influence around the globe and has set its sights on the Arctic. These investments can be incredibly useful to smaller states but may also pose risks to their national security.

In this episode of CNA Talks, Cornell Overfield and Rebecca Wolfson join John Stimpson to discuss China’s foreign direct investment in the Arctic States, what mechanisms are in place to protect their national security interests, and what the international community can do to expand these protections. 

Cornell Overfield is an Associate Research Analyst with CNA’s Strategy, Policy and Analysis Program.

Rebecca Wolfson is a Regulatory Analyst with CNA’s Office of the General Counsel.    

Related Materials Arctic Prospecting: Measuring China’s Arctic Economic Footprint: https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/arctic-prospecting.pdf

Foreign Direct Investment Screening in the Arctic: https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/foreign-direct-investment-screening-in-the-arctic.pdf

Exploring the Relationship between China’s Investment in the Arctic and Its National Strategy: https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/exploring-the-relationship-beween-chinas-arctic-investment-and-its-national-strategy.pdf

Arctic Economic Security: Recommendations for Safeguarding Arctic Nations against China’s Economic Statecraft: https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/arctic-economic-security.pdf

 

Mar 30, 2022
As climate change increases the frequency and impact of natural disasters, the consequences of these events are not felt evenly. While disasters are devastating for everyone, they are exponentially worse for already vulnerable populations.

In this episode of CNA Talks, CNA’s Angie De Groot sits down with Jason Biermann and Jody Ferguson, emergency management professionals from the Pudget Sound region, in Washington. They discuss an innovative approach that priorities getting aid to their most vulnerable citizens, with the help of their private sector partners.

 

Jason M Biermann is the Director of the Snohomish County (WA) Department of Emergency Management. He has supported the response and recovery efforts to multiple disasters including the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States in January 2020.

Jody Ferguson is the Director of Emergency Management for Pierce County Emergency Management, the second-largest county in Washington State and is the Sponsoring Agency Chief for Washington Task Force One, one of FEMA’s 28 urban search and rescue teams.

Angie De Groot is a senior research scientist with CNA's Institute for Public Research. In 2019, she led the planning for a new emergency support function under the National Response Framework, created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to promote the stabilization of critical lifelines.

Mar 16, 2022

As new cases of COVID-19 continue to fall in the U.S., experts have begun to predict that the virus is shifting from a pandemic to an endemic. But while states all over the country have rolled back restrictions and mandates intended to slow the spread of the virus, it is something that we will continue to live with for the foreseeable future. In this episode of CNA Talks Eric Trabert and Yang Li, of CNA’s Center for Public Health Preparedness and Resilience, sit down to discuss what this new period of the pandemic means for the public, and what the work of public health practitioners might look like going forward.

Eric Trabert is the Director of CNA’s Center for Public Health Preparedness and Resilience. He has evaluated the public health and medical responses to the 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease epidemic and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.

Yang Li is a Senior Research Scientist with CNA's Institute for Public Research. His research includes assessments of past real-world public health emergencies, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and he has authored publications jointly with researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yang also represents CNA on the Global Health Security Agenda Consortium (GHSAC) as a Steering Committee member.

Mar 2, 2022

As militaries around the world begin to integrate more autonomous systems into their ranks, nations have been asking themselves how to ensure that these systems follow the laws of war.

To start to answer this question, Don Boroughs sits down with Jason Stack from the Office of Naval Research and CNA analyst Mike Stumborg. They discuss Mike’s recent report which provides a checklist for ethical autonomy.

Follow the link below to read the report.

https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/Dimensions-of-Autonomous-Decision-making.pdf

Jason Stack is a Director at the Office of Naval Research. He has led autonomy projects both at the Office of Naval Research and as the Chair of the Autonomous Systems Strategy Development Team.

Mike Stumborg is Principal Research Scientist with CNA’s ​Strike and Air Warfare Program.

Feb 16, 2022

Last summer, following the collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan, the Taliban seized control of the country. In the months since Afghanistan’s economy has been devested by the Taliban’s policies and by international sanctions against the country.   

On this episode of CNA Talks Jon Schroden welcomes economists Torek Farhadi and Bill Byrd, to discuss this crisis and what can be done to alienate it.  

Jonathan Schroden is the Director of CNA’s Countering Threats and Challenges Program.

Torek Farhadi is a former senior advisor to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He has discussed Afghan economic, security and humanitarian issues with the BBC, NPR and USA Today.

Bill Byrd is a developmental economist with the U.S. Institute of Peace. He previously served as the World Bank’s country manager for Afghanistan.

Feb 2, 2022

In response to Russia’s buildup of troops on Ukraine’s border, the U.S. and its European partners have threatened crippling sanctions if Russia were to invade. As this situation evolves, another leader familiar with the cost of sanctions arrived in Russia on January 19: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

On this episode of CNA Talks, Iran expert Mike Connell and Russia analyst Julian Waller discuss the consequences of that meeting and its likely geopolitical impact.  

Listener Note: In this episode, Iran Nuclear Deal and JCPOA are used interchangeably.

CNA’s Mike Connell is an expert on the armed forces of Iran and Persian Gulf Security issues.

Julian Waller is an analyst with CNA’s Russia Studies program.

 

Jan 19, 2022

China is one of the most powerful countries on the planet and its influence on the global economy is well known. However, many people may not realize that China has the largest distance water fishing fleet on the planet and is considered by non-governmental organizations to be the largest contributor to illegal fishing.

In this episode, CNA analyst Ryan Loomis and Heidi Holz join John Stimpson to discuss the scale and impact of illegal fishing, the other illicit activities that accompany it, and the impact on the nations whose sovereignty is violated by these practices.

Heidi Holz is a research scientist in CNA’s China Studies Division, specializing in PRC maritime policies and activities, particularly those related to the South China Sea.

Ryan Loomis is a Research Analyst at CNA’s China Studies Division, specializing in PRC actors' behavior in the maritime domain, and PRC media responses to US operations and activities worldwide.

CNA Report: Exposing the Gap Between PRC Rhetoric and Illicit Maritime Activity: https://www.cna.org/centers/cna/cip/china/prc-maritime

Jan 5, 2022

In the wake of last year's attack on the U.S. Capitol, the participation of former and current members of the military called attention to the threat posed by racial extremism in the ranks.

In this episode of CNA Talks, we are bringing you an interview with Megan McBride on her report “Racial Extremism in the Military a Continuum of Harm,” which seeks to give DOD the tools to mitigate this threat.  

This interview originally aired on the radio program “A Closer Look with Pam Atherton.” Pam Atherton is a veteran radio host, in addition to being a performance/presentation coach.  You can catch more of her interviews on ACloserLookRadio.com"

Megan McBride is a research analyst in CNA's Center for Stability and Development. She is an expert on international security issues including terrorism, radicalization, and ideological violence and has conducted and published research on domestic and international terrorism.

Further Reading

CNA Report: Racial Extremism in the Military: A Continuum
of Harm - https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/Racial-Extremism-in-the-Military-A-Continuum-of-Harm.pdf

 

Dec 22, 2021

Ariel Klein and Kaia Haney join John Stimpson to discuss their new framework for the four types of innovation, sustaining, breakthrough, disruptive and comprehensive. They explain how the Navy and other organizations can use the framework to identify what types of innovation they want and how they can organize to achieve it.

CNA Report: How to Think about Innovation: https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/pdf/How-to-Think-about-Innovation.pdf

Dec 8, 2021

When scientists test a hypothesis, they set up an experiment, control for external variables and refine their hypothesis based on their results. CNA’s service StaffLab makes this toolset available to executives to help refine and test their ideas for staffing, organizational reform, and more.

In this episode of CNA Talks, Margaux Hoar and Kelly Diaz join John Stimpson to discuss how StaffLab uses workshops, wargames, and other methods to help leaders achieve their vision for their organizations.

StaffLab Homepage: https://www.cna.org/stafflab/

Margaux Hoar directs the Organizations, Roles, and Missions research program at CNA. Her team conducts organizational, process, and command and control analyses, which provide tailored, transformative solutions to support the vision of CNA's sponsors.

Kelly Diaz is a Research Scientist at CNA and an expert in organizational design and management, specifically for DoD offices and commands. She focuses on issues of command and control, readiness and training, and wargaming.

Nov 10, 2021

For centuries, sabotage has been a tool of war, but what role does it serve in today’s environment where great powers compete in the shadows and non-state actors are important global players. On this episode of CNA Talks, CNA analysts, Alex Powell and Annaleah Westerhaug join John Stimpson to discuss their report, “Maritime Sabotage: Lessons Learned and Implications for Strategic Competition.”

Alex Powell is a Research Analyst on CNA’s Countering Threats and Challenges program. His work has focused on issues pertaining to special operations forces (SOF) as well as violent extremist organizations. His research on SOF has encompassed issues ranging from the strategic down to the tactical levels

Annaleah Westerhaug is Research Assistant with CNA’s Strategy and Policy Analysis Program. Her research portfolio includes Chinese illegal unregulated fishing, Women peace and security in the Pacific Islands, Nuclear posture, Gender in counterterrorism and violent extremism, and Maritime sabotage.

Maritime Sabotage: Lessons Learned and Implications for Strategic Competition: https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/Maritime-Sabotage-Lessons-Learned-and-Implications-for-Strategic-Competition.pdf

Oct 27, 2021

In the modern economy businesses, NGOs and governments are interconnected and interdependent. In this ecosystem it is not enough for these actors to understand their own objectives and capabilities, they must also understand those of their partners and competitors.

In this episode of CNA Talks, CNA analysts Kelly Diaz and Alison Vernon discuss how business ecosystems models can be adapted and applied to issues of national security.

Alison Vernon is a Senior Research Scientist in CNA’s Organizations, Roles and Missions team. Her focus has been primarily on C2 issues, naval integration, and using ecosystems to find solutions to difficult national security challenges.

Kelly Diaz is a Research Scientist in CNA’s Organizations, Roles and Missions team. She is an expert in organizational design and management, specifically for DoD offices and commands. She focuses on issues of command and control, readiness and training, and wargaming.

Oct 18, 2021

CNA Talks wants to hear from you. We are conducting a survey to learn more about you, what you like about the show, and where you think we can improve. If you have a few minutes, we'd really appreciate your feedback!

https://forms.gle/kKakxggL56mhMGaB7

Oct 6, 2021

Federal, State and local agencies regularly use exercises to prepare for natural disasters including pandemics. In 2019, many of these entities and private sector partners participated in the scenario Crimson Contagion, which was meant to test how the U.S. government would respond to a novel influenza pandemic spreading through the U.S.

Sound familiar?

On this episode of CNA Talks, Chris Emory, the Bureau Chief of Health Emergency Management within in the New Mexico Department of Health, and Cynthia Holmes who served as the coordinator for New Mexico’s Joint Information Center for the first 200 of the COVID response join CNA analysts Dawn Thomas and Eric Trabert. They discuss how lessons learned from Crimson Contagion shaped New Mexico’s response to COVID-19.

Dawn Thomas is the co-director of CNA’s Center for Emergency Management Operations. Dawn has written, executed and evaluated more than 60 exercises, in the fields of health and medical operations, animal disease and public health.

Eric Trabert is the Director of CNA’s Center for Public Health Preparedness and Resilience. He has evaluated the public health responses to more than a dozen emergencies, including the 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic, and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.

Chris Emory is the Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Health Emergency Management within the New Mexico Department of Health.

Cynthia Holmes is currently an instructor with NCBRT out of Louisiana State University. Before this position, she served as the training and exercise manager for the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. During this time, she served as the coordinator for the Joint Information Center for the first 200 days of the COVID Response.

Sep 22, 2021

Rear Admiral Mike McDevitt (ret.) sits down with Kevin Pollpeter to discuss his book, “China as a Twenty-First Century Naval Power.” They cover topics including China’s military presence abroad, the dispute over the South China Sea, and how the U.S. can continue to support its allies in the region.

Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt (retired) is a senior fellow at CNA. During his 34-year naval career, McDevitt held four at-sea commands, including command of an aircraft carrier battle group. He spent all of his operational time in the Pacific, including a two-year assignment in Sasebo, Japan. McDevitt was Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group Fellow at the Naval War College.

Kevin Pollpeter is a research scientist in the CNA China Studies Program. He is an internationally recognized expert on China's space program and is widely published on Chinese national security issues, focusing on Chinese military modernization, China's defense industry, and Chinese views on information warfare.

Sep 8, 2021

In part two of their discussion, CNA counterterrorism experts Alex Powell and Jon Schroden sit down with James Cunningham the lead author for two comprehensive lessons learned reports published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). 

They discuss some positive takeaways from the development of the Afghan National Security Forces and what lessons the U.S. government can learn from Afghanistan.

Timestamps by Topic

1:17: Were there effective approaches to developing the Afghan National Security Forces?

7:05: What lessons should the U.S. government learn from Afghanistan?

12:59: Will the U.S. government make any actionable change because of these lessons?

Guest Biographies

James Cunningham is the lead author and project lead for two comprehensive lessons learned reports published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction focused on reconstructing the ANDSF.  For over 16 years, James has worked Afghanistan-related issues as a member of the Intelligence community and providing independent oversight of U.S. reconstruction programming.

Jonathan Schroden is the Director of CNA's Countering Threats and Challenges Program (CTCP), whose mission is to support US government efforts to better understand and counter state and non-state threats and challenges. Schroden has deployed or traveled to Afghanistan 13 times.

Alex Powell is an expert on terrorist group tactics, counterterrorism, and special operations forces (SOF).  He has worked extensively on security issues in Afghanistan, traveling there numerous times to conduct assessments of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

Additional Resources

SIGAR Website: https://www.sigar.mil/

Divided Responsibility: Lessons from U.S. Security Sector Assistance Efforts in Afghanistan, June 2019 (https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/lessonslearned/SIGAR-19-39-LL.pdf)

Reconstructing the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan, September 2017 (https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/lessonslearned/SIGAR-17-62-LL.pdf)

Sep 1, 2021

In this episode, CNA counterterrorism experts Alex Powell and Jon Schroden sit down with James Cunningham the lead author for two comprehensive lessons learned reports published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). 

They discuss the collapse of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in the face of the Taliban offensive, how the Taliban were able to take territory with so little resistance and problems with how the U.S. military trained the ANDSF.

Guest Biographies

James Cunningham is the lead author and project lead for two comprehensive lessons learned reports published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction focused on reconstructing the ANDSF.  For over 16 years, James has worked Afghanistan-related issues as a member of the Intelligence community and providing independent oversight of U.S. reconstruction programming.

Jonathan Schroden is the Director of CNA's Countering Threats and Challenges Program (CTCP), whose mission is to support US government efforts to better understand and counter state and non-state threats and challenges. Schroden has deployed or traveled to Afghanistan 13 times.

Alex Powell is an expert on terrorist group tactics, counterterrorism, and special operations forces (SOF).  He has worked extensively on security issues in Afghanistan, traveling there numerous times to conduct assessments of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

Additional Resources

SIGAR Website: https://www.sigar.mil/

Divided Responsibility: Lessons from U.S. Security Sector Assistance Efforts in Afghanistan, June 2019 (https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/lessonslearned/SIGAR-19-39-LL.pdf)

Reconstructing the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan, September 2017 (https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/lessonslearned/SIGAR-17-62-LL.pdf)

 

Aug 25, 2021

The collapse of the Afghan government to Taliban fighters has prompted the U.S. and its allies to evacuate their citizens from the country. However, China has bucked the trend by leaving its embassy in Kabul open and suggesting that it is interested in a cooperative relationship with the Taliban.

CNA analyst, Brian Waidelich joins John Stimpson, to discuss how China has a history of playing both sides when it comes to Afghan and how they might leverage their existing relationship with the Taliban to further their interests in the region.

CNA Report-Beyond Belt and Road: https://www.cna.org/research/OBOR

Brian Waidelich is a Research Scientist in CNA’s Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Program. His research interests include Chinese foreign policy and security affairs, as well as strategic competition.

Aug 11, 2021

Ariel Klein and Kaia Haney join John Stimpson to discuss their new framework for the four types of innovation, sustaining, breakthrough, disruptive and comprehensive.  They explain how the Navy and other organizations can use the framework to identify what types of innovation they want and how they can organize to achieve it.  

Ariel Klein is a Senior Research Scientist with CNA’s Organizational Roles and Mission Operations Program.

Kara Haney is a research intern at CNA. She is currently pursuing her master’s at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.

CNA Report: How to Think about Innovation: https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/How-to-Think-about-Innovation.pdf

 
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