Our mission

Forward Defense (FD) helps the United States and its allies and partners contend with great-power competitors and maintain favorable balances of power. This new practice area in the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security produces Forward-looking analyses of the trends, technologies, and concepts that will define the future of warfare, and the alliances needed for the 21st century. Through the futures we forecast, the scenarios we wargame, and the analyses we produce, FD develops actionable strategies and policies for deterrence and defense, while shaping US and allied operational concepts and the role of defense industry in addressing the most significant military challenges at the heart of great-power competition.

FD issues in focus

In-depth analysis

Quick reads


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Event series

Our upcoming & latest events

Wed, Sep 9, 2020

Countering new threats to the homeland: The future of the Department of Homeland Security

ONLINE EVENT – Three former secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) discuss the launch of Forward Defense’s landmark report that proposes refocusing DHS’s mission on leading the defense of the homeland against nonmilitary threats.


Wed, Aug 26, 2020

US defense strategy and posture for an era of great power competition

AN #ACELECTIONS2020 EVENT – Experts discuss how near-term deterrence be strengthened while investing in the next generation of military capabilities for deterrence and defense in the 2030s.


Tue, Jul 21, 2020

North Star: The first Department of the Air Force Arctic strategy

ONLINE EVENT – The Secretary of the Air Force and two members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff launch the Air Force’s Arctic Strategy, the Department of the Air Force’s first service-specific strategy for the region.


Tue, Jun 30, 2020

The future of high-tech warfare

ONLINE EVENT – How true is the truism that the United States possesses the world’s strongest military? While many in Washington and beyond worry about the military rise of great-power rivals like China, Christian Brose makes the provocative case that the United States is already lagging behind in the military competition because it has for years invested billions of dollars in expensive and vulnerable ships, planes, and other military platforms.


Tue, Jun 2, 2020

War stories from the future

ONLINE EVENT – In the inaugural event for the Atlantic Council’s newly-established Forward Defense practice area, General James Jones, General James Cartwright, Max Brooks, August Cole, and Valerie Jackson join us for a contemporary exploration of narrative and the future of warfare.


The Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security works to develop sustainable, nonpartisan strategies to address the most important security challenges facing the United States and the world.

Core team



Mon, Sep 28, 2020

Competitive strategy insights from wargames

Warfighting eclipses the moment of battle. This report assesses the results from a series of competitive strategy wargames in order to explore how US military-modernization investments can shape adversary decisions long before the battle ever begins.

Report by Benjamin Jensen, John T. Watts, Christian Trotti, and Mark J. Massa

China Conflict

Thu, Sep 24, 2020

Trotti and Nurkin interviewed on hypersonic weapons in Defense & Aerospace Report podcast

Forward Defense Assistant Director Christian Trotti and Nonresident Senior Fellow Tate Nurkin discuss key insights from FD's recent Primer on Hypersonic Weapons in the Indo-Pacific Region, while further exploring essential issues related to the military utility of hypersonic weapons.

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Conflict

Mon, Sep 21, 2020

Warrick calls for DHS reform in letter to Houston Chronicle

In response to an article in the Houston Chronicle advocating for the dismantlement of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Forward Defense Non-Resident Senior Fellow Thomas Warrick writes that DHS can be reformed, including through the recommendations of the Atlantic Council’s Future of DHS Project. More about our experts:

Future of DHS by Atlantic Council

China Coronavirus

Thu, Sep 17, 2020

Hu featured in World of Intelligence podcast on OSINT, disinfo, and ethics

Forward Defense nonresident senior fellow Evanna Hu joins the "World of Intelligence" podcast to discuss the timely topics of open-source intelligence (OSINT), disinformation, and ethics.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Disinformation Intelligence

Wed, Sep 16, 2020

US technological superiority will be wasted without a strengthened defense industrial base

The United States cannot let efforts to achieve technological superiority outpace the cultivation of an industrial base available to exploit this advantage.

New Atlanticist by John Wharton and Tate Nurkin

Defense Industry Defense Policy

Wed, Sep 9, 2020

Future of DHS Project: Full report

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs to refocus its mission to lead the defense of the United States against major nonmilitary threats.

Report by Thomas Warrick & Caitlin Durkovich

China Coronavirus

Mon, Aug 31, 2020

Hasik in DefenseNews: Close the Pentagon and decentralize DoD HQ

Forward Defense Senior Fellow James Hasik contends that the Pentagon office building is a risk to the Defense Department due to its size and immobility as well as its effect on work culture and groupthink.

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Defense Policy

Wed, Aug 26, 2020

US needs to change the way it invests in defense if it wants to compete with rising rivals

Successive years of stagnant defense spending levels and the prospect of lasting economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic could threaten to leave the United States handicapped in its growing military competition with rising powers China and Russia

Elections 2020 by David A. Wemer

Defense Industry Defense Policy

Mon, Aug 24, 2020

Warrick quoted in the Washington Post on preventing US election-related unrest

Thomas Warrick—director of the Future of DHS Project—warned in this Washington Post article of the risk of escalating violence around the US election and suggested that politicians and government officials can work to reduce, rather than incite, that violence. More about our experts

Future of DHS by Atlantic Council

Democratic Transitions Elections

Mon, Aug 24, 2020

Mental health care in the military: An opportunity for progress

Now more than ever, military service members need exceptional mental health care—and the national security community is uniquely positioned to develop the actionable recommendations that are prerequisites for progress.

New Atlanticist by Andrew Farnsworth

Defense Policy United States and Canada