Forward Defense‘s “Seizing the Advantage: The Next US National Defense Strategy” explores the future of defense through frank review of current policy, cogent expert analysis of the present security environment, and actionable recommendations for strategy to meet future defense challenges. The project began with a series of op-eds and short analytical pieces designed to facilitate debate over the ideal strategic underpinnings, central pillars, and operationalization of future defense strategy, and has culminated in a published Atlantic Council Strategy Paper that articulates the Atlantic Council’s key recommendations for the next National Defense Strategy (NDS).
Read the Strategy Paper
The Department of Defense (DoD) needs a clear roadmap to counter today’s myriad security challenges—from strategic competitors (e.g., China and Russia) and regional aggressors to violent extremist organizations and climate change. Seizing the Advantage: A Vision for the Next US National Defense Strategy, by FD Deputy Director Clementine Starling, Senior US Air Force Fellow Lt Col Tyson Wetzel, and FD Assistant Director Christian Trotti, articulates Forward Defense’s recommendations for the next NDS, including four key proposals that will have the most impact on achieving US national security goals:
- The DoD should engage in hybrid warfare—both offensive and defensive—consistent with American values, in order to respond where competition with China and Russia is taking place today.
- The DoD should adopt a new operational concept, which the authors have termed the Combined Warfighting Concept, to integrate warfighting domains, US military services, and allies and partners.
- The DoD must build the force to dominate the data-centric, networked, and fast-paced armed conflict of the future—this Strategy Paper articulates clear investment priorities to build that force, and divestment priorities to afford it.
- The DoD must rebalance its global force posture away form a focus on Central Command, and toward other potential flashpoints in the Indo-Pacific and Europe.
The nation must tackle a new reality, developing the next strategy to secure the United States and the world. This paper…—Seizing the Advantage: A Vision for the Next US National Defense Strategy—is a thoughtful, realistic, and relevant answer to some of our most difficult challenges.”Secretary Chuck Hagel, 24th US Secretary of Defense
Applying the Strategy Paper to Russia
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Op-eds and commentary
FD’s leading-edge op-eds and commentary advance the debate on key defense issues and offer practical policy recommendations for the next National Defense Strategy.
New Atlanticist Dec 2, 2020
America’s fleeting second-mover advantage is here
By Matthew R. Crouch
Though Chinese initiative has upset the status quo, their first move clarifies their vulnerabilities and exposes potential effective counterweights. By acting promptly to exploit these opportunities, the United States can take the second-mover advantage.
New Atlanticist Dec 3, 2020
Reconciling ends and means in US national security
By Christopher Preble
The next National Defense Strategy should recognize that the American people’s unwillingness to spend considerably more money on the military necessitates a serious reconsideration of what is needed to secure the nation’s truly vital interests
Seizing the advantage Feb 3, 2021
How the US can regain the advantage in its next National Defense Strategy
By Clementine G. Starling, Matthew R. Crouch
To seize the advantage, the next US National Defense Strategy needs a paradigm adjustment, not a shift. In the next NDS, the Biden defense team must take a broader definition of competition if the United States is to succeed in deterring, defending, and shaping the strategic environment in its favor.
Seizing the advantage Feb 4, 2021
Elevating ‘deterrence by denial’ in US defense strategy
By Erica D. Borghard, Benjamin Jensen, and Mark Montgomery
As the Biden administration reshapes foreign policy and makes decisions about how to invest in US military capabilities for the future, it should acknowledge the value of a denial-based approach to deterrence.
Seizing the advantage Feb 19, 2021
How the next National Defense Strategy can get serious about emerging technologies
By Justin Sherman, Evanna Hu
US adversaries including China, Iran, and Russia are investing in additional technological capabilities to counterbalance the United States’ advantages in great-power competition—specifically its dominance in kinetic operations and weapons. The next NDS must differentiate among different technologies to create more nuanced strategies.
Seizing the advantage Mar 15, 2021
What the US can learn from the UK about strategic reviews
By Peter Watkins, Will Jessett CBE
The Biden administration has begun work on a slew of strategies—including a new National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Nuclear Posture Review—that will form the framework for its approach to security challenges. There’s a lot that it can learn from the British experience of conducting strategic reviews.
Seizing the advantage Mar 18, 2021
US national defense strategy and the future of foreign military sales
By Charles W. Hooper
Ongoing great-power competition, US efforts to strengthen alliances and partnerships, and the global dominance of the US defense industry will ensure that FMS remains a policy tool of first resort. This being the case, US policymakers need to ensure that it is the most efficient tool that it can be.
Seizing the advantage Apr 2, 2021
Recalculating the math of great-power competition
By Arun Iyer
To better serve US interests, the Biden administration should recalculate the DoD’s GPC framework to address the threats that the country is most likely to confront, while improving the United States’ preparedness for the most dangerous threats. It should replace the single “2+3” concept with three multilayered and interactive frameworks nested upon one another.
Seizing the advantage May 3, 2021
How the US and EU can counter digital threats together
By Harry I. Hannah
Russian and Chinese threats all seek to exploit gaps in Western cyber defenses and digital and information governance. To close these gaps as a part of its defense strategy, the United States should develop a strong collaborative relationship with the European Union in the digital and information sphere.
Seizing the advantage May 27, 2021
A connected world is a vulnerable world. The US can help secure it.
By Benjamin Jensen
National security is no longer measured by the size of a country’s military forces. It is measured by how efficiently and securely a country, as part of a network of allies and partners, exchanges information, resources, and ideas.
As part of this project, some op-eds were published externally via other outlets.
Stay tuned for Q&A articles as distinguished security and defense experts respond to Forward Defense’s most pressing questions about the future of defense strategy and the next National Defense Strategy.
Seizing the advantage Mar 1, 2021
How should the next National Defense Strategy balance terrorism, rogue regimes, and great-power competition?
By Matthew R. Crouch, Ronald C. Fairbanks
Our experts explore how the United States can tackle terrorism, address the advances of rogue regimes, and establish a balance between competition and cooperation with other global powers.
In the News Feb 11, 2021
Starling interviewed by Government Matters on the next National Defense Strategy
By Atlantic Council
Forward Defense Deputy Director Clementine Starling discusses her latest op-ed on how the United States should regain its competitive advantage vis-a-vis great-power rivals in its next National Defense Strategy.
The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the US government or other organization.
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All content on the next National Defense Strategy
Forward Defense, housed within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, shapes the debate around the greatest military challenges facing the United States and its allies, and creates forward-looking assessments of the trends, technologies, and concepts that will define the future of warfare.