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, Forward Defense 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

FD in-depth analysis

Read our extensive research and reports on cutting-edge issues in defense, including our leading analysis on key trends in military technology and innovation, our robust body of work on nuclear deterrence and the emerging strategic forces balance, and our foundational recommendations on the future of homeland security.

FD quick reads

Read our commentary, op-eds, and analysis on defense policy, military strategy, defense industry, and emerging trends.


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Content series

Event series

Forward Defense houses the Scowcroft Center’s longstanding public event series on key issues related to the future of US and allied defense, including the Commanders Series, the Defense-Industrial Policy Series, and the Captains of Industry Series.

Our upcoming & latest events

Forward Defense is a forum for high-level speakers and experts to discuss new approaches to the most important challenges of our time. Stay tuned for FD’s upcoming events on key issues related to defense strategy, emerging military technologies and operational concepts, the defense-industrial base, and the intersection between international security and the creative arts. Also, be sure to watch our past events for relevant insights on these key topics.

Mon, Apr 12, 2021

The future of US security in space

Online Event The United States needs a space security strategy with a thirty-year time horizon. More countries are operating space programs, more companies are doing business in space, more weapons are aimed at space, and more of space is ripe for development than ever before. Our distinguished panelists discuss why a long-term strategy for space is so essential.

1:30pm Defense Industry Defense Technologies International Organizations Space

Wed, Feb 10, 2021

Innovating the business model of defense

Online Event The rise of China is resetting the Pentagon’s priorities and approach to sustaining military competitive advantages. Anduril CEO Brian Schimpf, Maxar CEO Dan Jablonsky, Atlantic Council Nonresident Senior Fellow Dr. Melissa Flagg, and NDIA Chairman MajGen Arnold Punaro join us for a Captains of Industry discussion on how the Department of Defense can adapt acquisition practices to improve its access to the US innovation base.

2:00pm Defense Industry Defense Policy Defense Technologies United States and Canada

Mon, Feb 1, 2021

Effective resilience and national strategy: Lessons from COVID-19 and implications for the Biden administration

Online Event Following the inauguration of President Joe Biden and his emphasis on combating the coronavirus, health security experts discuss the effects of COVID-19 on US critical infrastructure and the implications for the future of national security.

2:00pm Coronavirus Crisis Management Cybersecurity Infrastructure Protection

Thu, Dec 17, 2020

The Future of DHS project: Time to reform Congressional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security

Online Event The Hon. Bennie Thompson and distinguished former officials discuss why now is the time to streamline congressional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.

4:45pm Defense Policy National Security Political Reform United States and Canada

Tue, Dec 1, 2020

The five revolutions: Examining defense innovation in the Indo-Pacific region

Online Event In this launch event for Forward Defense’s latest report, experts discuss the defense innovation trends, emerging technologies, and operational concepts that will define the future of competition and warfare in the Indo-Pacific region.

3:00pm Australia China Conflict Defense Industry

Wed, Nov 11, 2020

Veterans Day 2020

Online Event “Veterans Day 2020” joins the Atlantic Council’s creative energy with the nation’s celebration of veterans on this day of remembrance. It features keynote remarks by General David Petraeus, introducing a film adaptation of the stage play “War Words,” which depicts true stories of the veterans of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

4:30pm Afghanistan Conflict Iraq Middle East

Mon, Nov 9, 2020

The Blue Economy: A global agenda to explore, protect, and develop ocean resources

Online Event Five maritime experts join the Scowcroft Center and its Forward Defense practice area for a virtual discussion on the Blue Economy and how the United States can sustainably and responsibly cultivate international cooperation in this arena.

1:30pm Economy & Business Energy & Environment Entrepreneurship International Norms

Tue, Oct 20, 2020

Strengthening US alliances and partnerships in an era of great-power competition: A conversation with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

Public Event AN #ACFRONTPAGE EVENT – US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper joins the Atlantic Council’s #ACFrontPage event series in conversation with Atlantic Council CEO Frederick Kempe to discuss the importance of alliances and partnership in US national security and how to enhance and expand those relationships.

1:00pm Defense Policy Europe & Eurasia Indo-Pacific Middle East

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Forward Defense

Mon, Feb 22, 2021

Forward Defense – Summer 2021 Young Global Professionals Program


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.

Forward Defense Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security



Wed, Apr 14, 2021

Brooks in Write About Now on lessons from the pandemic

On April 14, Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Max Brooks was featured on the Write About Now podcast on the pandemic and Minecraft.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Coronavirus Education
Cover credit: Helen Lundeberg, “The Veil,” 1947, The Macfarlane Collection

Sun, Apr 11, 2021

The future of security in space: A thirty-year US strategy

Outer space is rapidly transforming as new actors test new limits. This Atlantic Council Strategy Paper calls for the United States and its allies and partners to secure space over the next three decades or risk wasting the promise of this emerging domain.

Atlantic Council Strategy Paper Series by Clementine G. Starling, Mark J. Massa, Lt Col Christopher P. Mulder, and Julia T. Siegel

China Cybersecurity

Fri, Apr 9, 2021

Mulder in DODReads on “Warbots 1.0: AI Goes to War”

Forward Defense Senior US Air Force Fellow Lt Col Christopher P. Mulder wrote a book review in DODReads on the novel “Warbot 1.0: AI Goes to War.”

In the News by Atlantic Council

National Security Non-Traditional Threats

Thu, Apr 8, 2021

Kroenig quoted in USNI News on the Chinese nuclear threat

Deputy Director of the Scowcroft Center Matthew Kroenig was quoted in a USNI News article titled "Russian and Chinese Nuclear Threats Pose Problem for US Deterrence, Experts Say."

In the News by Atlantic Council

China National Security

Mon, Apr 5, 2021

Schultz in TIME on US Troops and COVID-19 Vaccine

On April 5, Forward Defense Non-Resident Senior Fellow Dr. Tammy Schultz wrote an article in TIME with Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA) about vaccine hesitancy among US troops. Schultz and Moulton argue that this poses a threat to national security, risking infections among our armed services.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Coronavirus National Security

Fri, Apr 2, 2021

Recalculating the math of great-power competition

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 by Arun Iyer

Defense Policy Security & Defense

Thu, Apr 1, 2021

McInnis in Inkstick on Future of National Security Workplace

On April 1, FD Non-Resident Senior Fellow Kathleen J. McInnis wrote an article on the future of the national security workplace following the COVID-19 pandemic, an article in a series on future workplaces for Inkstick. She argued that the workplace may fundamentally change due to the remote environment.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Defense Policy United States and Canada

Wed, Mar 31, 2021

Nurkin’s Deftech Scan report in Armasuisse

On April 12, Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Tate Nurkin published the latest issue of Deftech Scan.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Defense Industry Defense Policy

Tue, Mar 30, 2021

Hu interviewed by Government Matters on need for diversity

Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Evanna Hu published an article in the Hill titled "Defense acquisition reform is critical going forward."

In the News by Atlantic Council

Civil Society Coronavirus

Mon, Mar 29, 2021

The downsides of downsizing: Why the United States needs four hundred ICBMs

The United States is at a nuclear modernization crossroads. Critics of the land leg of the nuclear triad believe that an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force of 300 missiles will be cheaper and more stable than a force of 400. This issue brief shows that 400 ICBMs support the goals of US nuclear deterrence and are affordable.

Issue Brief by Matthew Kroenig, Mark J. Massa, Christian Trotti

China Defense Policy