Groundbreaking practice area will shape the debate around US and allies’ greatest military challenges and create forward-looking assessments of the trends, technologies, and concepts that will define the future of warfare

WASHINGTON, DC – June 2, 2020 – The Atlantic Council announced today the launch of Forward Defense (FD)–a new practice area within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security designed to develop strategies and concepts to help the United States and its allies and partners contend with great power rivals and maintain favorable balances of power.

Led by veteran national security experts, FD will draw on lessons from the past to shape the debate around the most important military and defense issues of the future. FD will advance its mission by producing forward-looking analyses of the trends, technologies, and concepts that are defining the future of warfare, while building alliances fit for the 21st century.

“In a world of great power competition, emerging defense technologies, and biological threats, the Scowcroft Center’s Forward Defense practice area is needed to help decision makers navigate complex scenarios,” said Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Vice Chair of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center Advisory Council, and Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.

General James Jones, Executive Chairman Emeritus of the Atlantic Council and Chairman of the Scowcroft Center Advisory Council, said, “The global security order is changing; it is one in which the United States will need allies and friends in order to succeed, one in which national and international institutions will have to be modernized to be effective, and one in which the United States will have to shed the global impression that it is retreating into isolationism and uses military force too frequently to solve problems.”

The FD practice area consists of four substantive pillars. First, it will conduct defense foresight to identify the most significant long-term developments, trends, and technologies shaping the future geostrategic environment. Second, FD will craft defense strategies and policies to counter, deter, and overcome the diverse military challenges posed by great-power competitors, and leverage opportunities with allies and partners. Third, FD will focus on developing new operational concepts, while enhancing capabilities and postures, to deter and, if necessary, win future wars. Finally, FD will work to enhance the role of US and allies’ defense industry to strengthen collaboration in pursuit of national defense strategies.

“In today’s new and unique international security environment, ‘defending forward’ will be a profoundly different strategic and operational endeavor than it was during the Cold War,” said retired General James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and current Atlantic Council Board Director. “We need to carry this metaphor forward into the modern age, and that is exactly what FD seeks to do.” 

FD will apply innovative methodologies to better explore, communicate, and animate issues at the center of future defense challenges. This will include scenario-based forecasting, robust wargaming, and narrative fiction and the creative arts.

FD will be overseen by Scowcroft Center Director Barry Pavel and Deputy Director Matthew Kroenig, who will leverage their respective national security experience at the White House and Pentagon—as well as at the highest levels of academia—to manage this new practice area. After four years in the Scowcroft Center’s Transatlantic Security Initiative, Clementine Starling will join FD as Deputy Director to provide senior-level leadership and expertise. Christian Trotti and Mark Massa, who have played a key role in the Scowcroft Center’s defense work over the past year and a half, will support all elements of the FD program. The practice area will feature a high-level roster of experienced senior fellows–analysts, wargamers, creators, futurists, and conveners who practice the methodologies and substantive pillars that will distinguish FD.

To learn more about Forward Defense and its experts, events, and upcoming reports, please visit here. Follow the latest on Twitter via #ForwardDefense, and sign up to our mailing list here. Please join the Forward Defense launch event “War Stories from the Future” on Tuesday, June 2 at 3:30pm EDT by registering here.

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