October 14, 2020

Introducing The Gaming Lab at CNAS

The Center for a New American Security today launched The Gaming Lab at CNAS, a new major initiative led by the CNAS Defense Program. CNAS experts and adjuncts at The Gaming Lab will lead innovative, unclassified games and exercises to help policymakers and military strategists gain critical insights into key national security problems.

“From rising global military powers to the rapidly evolving digital domain, the complexity of global threats has never been greater,” said CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine. “The Gaming Lab at CNAS will bring together a remarkable team of military leaders and national security experts to explore these urgent challenges and discover new ways for government, the private sector and others to meet them."

Co-led by Chris Dougherty and Becca Wasser, The Gaming Lab will leverage extensive game design and subject matter expertise to develop highly tailored games and exercises, supporting three primary lines of effort:

  1. Operational wargames that examine future conflicts and analyze key areas of warfighting advantage and disadvantage;
  2. Strategy games that explore critical elements of national security problems; examine diplomatic, information, military and economic tools; and assess political-military decision-making;
  3. ‘Expert elicitation’ exercises such as scenario and tabletop exercises, simulations, and red team assessments.

The Gaming Lab builds on the Center’s innovative research and analysis, including previous CNAS-led games and exercises on topics that include Chinese economic coercion, measures short of war, and new operational concepts to deter and defeat great power adversaries. The Gaming Lab will employ a range of methods to conduct rigorous post-game analysis to generate new, policy-relevant insights.

“The United States is faced with a wave of military, economic and technological change that is reshaping every aspect of international relations,” said Robert O. Work, former Deputy Secretary of Defense and CNAS Distinguished Senior Fellow. “American leaders must prepare for the coming future and its associated national security challenges through planning, testing, and—most importantly—conducting wargames examining scenarios. The Gaming Lab at CNAS will help address these unique challenges.”

For more information or to schedule an interview with a member of the Lab, contact Cole Stevens at cstevens@cnas.org or call 202-695-8166.


  • Chris Dougherty

    Former Senior Fellow, Defense Program

    Chris Dougherty is a former Senior Fellow for the Defense Program at CNAS. His primary areas of research included defense strategy, operational concepts, and force planning. H...

  • Becca Wasser

    Senior Fellow, Defense Program

    Becca Wasser is a Senior Fellow for the Defense Program and lead of The Gaming Lab at CNAS. Her research areas include defense strategy, force design, strategic and operationa...

  • Cole Stevens

    Former Communications Officer

    Cole Stevens is a former Communications Officer at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). In this role, he led the Center's press and public affairs strategy to advanc...