Research Assistant, Defense Program

Full Time

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) seeks to hire a Research Assistant (RA) to support the Defense Program. Candidates with project management, event management, and scheduling experience, along with an interest in defense strategy and wargaming are strongly encouraged to apply. Candidates should be self-starters that are comfortable working as part of a small, close-knit team in a fast-paced and fluid work environment. An ability to manage complex administrative tasks with diligent attention to detail is critical. Please note that this is not a regional studies position.

The RA will be expected to perform a variety of tasks outlined below. The following is an overview of primary responsibilities. Other tasks may be required, and responsibilities will vary over time.


Project Development and Management

  • Research and build familiarity with potential funders;
  • Develop proposals in conjunction with Center staff;
  • Generate and manage project budgets in conjunction with Center staff; and
  • Engage with donors and sponsors.

Event Design and Management

  • Formulate event agendas including themes and speakers;
  • Draft and send invitations;
  • Manage program contact lists;
  • Manage RSVP lists;
  • Oversee event logistics, such as venues, catering, etc., in conjunction with Center staff;
  • Execute event communications plans using Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams;
  • Coordinate with external speakers and their staffs; and
  • Manage event budgets.

Publication Management

  • Manage outside contributors;
  • Manage team publication schedules and deadlines;
  • Manage event calendars;
  • Collaborate with Center staff to develop compelling graphics and data visualizations; and
  • Help promote research among target audiences.

Other Administrative Tasks

  • Schedule meetings and events;
  • Create meeting agendas, take notes, and track associated tasks;
  • Arrange business travel and accommodations;
  • Compile expense reports; and
  • Maintain program website and project content.

Research and Analysis

  • Conduct literature reviews and in-depth research;
  • Participate in engagements with external experts and practitioners including (non-resident) adjunct fellows;
  • Find sources and edit citations for written materials; and
  • Compile wargame support materials, to include orders of battle.


  • Draft project proposals and grant applications with supervision from senior staff;
  • Write interim and final grant reports;
  • Write project and event descriptions for external facing materials such as the CNAS website;
  • Develop social media campaigns in coordination with Center staff;
  • Draft wargame scenarios and other materials; and
  • Write op-eds, journal articles, and co-authored/authored CNAS papers and reports and short analyses, such as commentaries, driven by the news cycle.

Institutional Responsibilities

  • Participate in interviews and other personnel processes;
  • Attend internal meetings and represent CNAS at outside events;
  • Mentor colleagues;
  • Assist in networking, messaging, and outreach about CNAS, the Defense Program, and its products;
  • Attend staff CNAS events and activities as needed;
  • Occasional travel.

Qualifications and Requirements


  • Bachelor’s degree or higher;
  • Experience researching, analyzing, and writing on national security and defense issues;
  • Willingness to support the Defense Program through administrative work;
  • Project management experience;
  • Exceptional organizational skills and attention to detail;
  • An ability to work collaboratively in a fast-paced and fluid environment;
  • General familiarity with military, Defense Department, and national security issues, terminology, and research resources;
  • Strong writing skills, including good grammar and diligent self-editing and fact checking;
  • Good judgment, especially regarding the quality of data and competing information sources;
  • Strong multitasking and time management skills, as well as an ability to juggle multiple projects and competing priorities;
  • Willingness to maintain confidentiality;
  • Computer competency including, but not limited to, Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), Slack, and Zoom;
  • Legal right to work in the United States.


  • Master’s degree in a relevant area of study (e.g., strategic studies, security studies, political science, international relations, military history, operations research);
  • Experience or demonstrated interest in defense strategy, force planning, wargaming, or operations research; and
  • Strong Excel or quantitative analysis skills.

About the Defense Program

The CNAS Defense Program does serious work 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.

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.

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 resume or CV. Writing samples may be requested.