Fellow, Defense Program

Full Time

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) seeks to hire a Fellow to join the Defense Program. This is a three-year appointment.

Ideal candidates will have experience in research and policy development at the intersection of technology and national security and an interest in U.S. defense policy. Policy-relevant knowledge and expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), information and communications technology, and digital infrastructure is preferred.

The Fellow’s primary responsibility (90 percent of their time) will be leading a three-year research project on AI safety and stability. The goal of this project is to better understand and educate policymakers about AI risks and the specific steps that can be taken to ensure safe, secure, and trusted AI in Department of Defense processes.

As part of the three-year term and before project work begins, the Fellow will engage in six months of online coursework studying AI and machine learning, such as through a Coursera course on machine learning, if necessary to deepen their expertise. Project work will begin after this initial six-month period of coursework. Prior education or work experience in AI and machine learning is preferred but not required.

The remainder of the Fellow’s time will be working on other research lines of effort in the Defense Program. The CNAS Defense Program works on the most pressing challenges facing the Pentagon, presented in an accessible and practical way. We seek concrete impact on defense policy, both now and in the future. We are a trusted source in the U.S. defense ecosystem, producing high quality analysis and policy recommendations on the implications of competition with China and Russia for U.S. defense strategy, military operations, defense budgeting, and institutional reform. True to CNAS values, the Defense Program selectively addresses the issues that require the most thought leadership, such as new operational concepts and chronic institutional shortcomings that hinder the United States from competing effectively with China and Russia militarily.


The following is an overview of primary responsibilities. Other tasks may be required, and responsibilities will vary over time.


  • Design and implement a research project to better understand how the Department of Defense can improve its processes to ensure safe, secure, and trusted AI.
  • Design and fully execute new projects and in-depth analysis on defense issues.
  • Write and publish high quality, rigorously developed reports, policy analyses, journal articles, op-eds, commentaries, and other written products related to core program themes and other CNAS research priorities.
  • Engage outside experts to conduct research and analysis related to the program’s mission.
  • Collaborate with CNAS colleagues in the Defense Program and other programs.
  • Conduct domestic research trips.


  • Lead and participate in events, such as working groups, panel discussions, roundtables, and task force meetings.
  • Conduct consultative meetings and outreach to senior executive branch and defense officials, members of Congress and their staffs, and technology leaders in the public and private sectors.
  • Serve as an expert commentator in the media and engage in public outreach through social media, podcasts, public speaking, and other outlets.
  • Engage key constituency groups and organizations, including domestic and foreign professional associations, relevant multilateral institutions and bodies, and counterpart research or advisory institutions in the United States and abroad.


  • Research potential funders.
  • Prepare and manage project budgets in conjunction with Center staff.
  • Engage and liaise with current and prospective donors.
  • Develop project proposals and grant applications in coordination with Program and Center staff.
  • Prepare and submit interim and final grant reports.


  • Formulate event agendas including themes and speakers.
  • Design, lead, and manage workshops, roundtable discussions, and other events that contribute to the Center’s research agenda.


  • Edit CNAS papers and reports for substance, style, and layout.
  • Coordinate with outside authors as needed.
  • Manage publication schedules and deadlines.
  • Collaborate with Center staff to develop compelling graphics, data visualizations, and other methods of content delivery.
  • Craft and execute strategies to promote research among target audiences.


  • Participate in candidate interviews, employee orientation, and other personnel processes.
  • Attend internal meetings and represent CNAS at outside events.
  • Mentor colleagues and future security leaders both formally and informally.
  • Networking, messaging, and outreach.
  • Staff CNAS activities as needed.
  • Travel as needed, domestic and international.



  • Excellent and efficient writing skills, including diligent self-editing and fact checking.
  • Strong organizational skills and uncompromising attention to detail.
  • Ability to train, supervise, support, and work collaboratively with others in a fast-paced environment.
  • Experience in policies for emerging technology, either as a researcher or practitioner.
  • Project management experience and a demonstrated ability to develop and carry out a project work plan.
  • Discretion, especially with regard to judging the quality of data and competing information sources.
  • Willingness and ability to maintain confidentiality.
  • Collegial and ethical professionalism committed to finding solutions and working collaboratively.
  • Master’s degree in a relevant area of study (e.g., political science, international relations, security studies, engineering, or sciences).
  • Legal right to work in the United States.


  • Science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or technical analytic education and/or work experience.
  • Experience with Department of Defense policies, processes, and organizations.

About CNAS

The Center for a New American Security develops bold, innovative, and bipartisan national security and defense policies that promote and protect American interests and values. Building on the deep expertise and broad experience of its staff and advisors, CNAS engages policymakers, experts, and the public with innovative fact-based research, ideas, and analysis to shape and elevate the national security debate. As an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization, CNAS leads efforts to help inform and prepare the national security leaders of today and tomorrow. CNAS is located in Washington, D.C.

CNAS is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.

All CNAS employees are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they have an approved medical or religious reason not to do so. Prospective employees are required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination as part of the onboarding process, or, receive advance approval from CNAS for a recognized exception.

CNAS abides by all Federal and District of Columbia employment laws.

To Apply

CNAS is accepting online applications only. Apply online using this link:


A complete application will include a cover letter explaining the candidate’s interest in and qualifications for the position, together with a résumé or CV. Writing samples may be requested.