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.

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.

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.


Sign up for updates from Forward Defense to hear the latest on the trends, technologies, and military challenges shaping tomorrow.

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.

Wed, Jul 21, 2021

Modern mobilization: Defense-industrial preparedness for great-power conflict

Online Event As policymakers continue to grapple with the return of great-power competition, it is increasingly apparent that the US defense-industrial base is not optimized for rapid mobilization in response to long-term, high-intensity conflicts. Atlantic Council Senior Fellow James Hasik, CSIS Senior Advisor Mark Cancian, and DoD Supply Chain Risk Management Lead Brennan Grignon discuss how the government, military, and industry can adapt to meet the demands of modern mobilization.

3:30pm China Defense Industry Defense Policy Defense Technologies

Thu, Jul 1, 2021

Fight and flight in modern air warfare: A conversation with Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen Charles Q. Brown, Jr.

Online Event US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Charles Q. Brown, Jr. discusses the Department’s priorities in preparing for twenty-first century warfare as a part of Forward Defense’s Commanders Series.

3:30pm Cybersecurity Defense Industry Defense Policy Defense Technologies

Wed, Jun 30, 2021

Trusted Connectivity: Securing digital infrastructure in an era of strategic competition with China

Online Event AN #ACFRONTPAGE EVENT – Following consensus at the G7 Leaders’ Summit on countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and ahead of this Fall’s Tallinn Digital Summit, Estonian President H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid discusses the future of secure digital infrastructure for the United States and its allies and partners.

11:00am China Cybersecurity Defense Industry Eastern Europe

Wed, Jun 9, 2021

Competition and deterrence in Europe: A conversation with General Tod D. Wolters, USEUCOM Commander and SACEUR

Online Event Ahead of the NATO Summit, General Wolters, Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, discusses NATO’s new approach to everyday competition and how the United States can prevail in twenty-first century warfare.

2:15pm Crisis Management Defense Policy Europe & Eurasia NATO

Tue, Jun 8, 2021

Avoiding the next transatlantic security crisis: The looming clash over Passenger Name Record data

Online Event Transatlantic security experts join the Scowcroft Center and the Europe Center to discuss the need to harmonize policies on Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to avoid another airline security crisis.

12:00pm Europe & Eurasia International Norms International Organizations National Security

Mon, May 10, 2021

Advancing Army priorities for the future of warfare: A conversation with the Acting Secretary and the Chief of Staff of the Army

Online Event Acting Secretary of the Army HON John E. Whitley and Chief of Staff of the Army GEN James C. McConville discuss the US Army’s priorities and posture in light of emerging security threats and a potentially difficult budget as a part of Forward Defense’s Commanders Series events.

1:00pm Defense Policy Defense Technologies Missile Defense National Security

Tue, Apr 13, 2021

The modern government services company: Innovating solutions to public challenges

Online Event The modern government services agency harnesses a spectrum of capabilities to respond to the toughest defense challenges. Siemens Government Technologies CEO Tina Dolph, Applied Research Associates CEO Robert Sues, and Professional Services Council CEO David Berteau join us for a Captains of Industry discussion on the innovation coming from this sector.

9:30am Defense Industry Defense Policy Defense Technologies United States and Canada

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

Core team



Tue, Jul 20, 2021

Sadat in Politico on the future of space travel

Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Mir Sadat considers the direction of space travel over the next decade.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Space United States and Canada

Tue, Jul 20, 2021

Kohistany interviewed by NPR on her experience as an Afghan in the US military

Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Lyla Kohistany speaks to NPR on her experience as an Afghan in the US military.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Afghanistan Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding

Fri, Jul 16, 2021

Starling, Massa, and Siegel present at the State of the Space Industrial Base Workshop on the future of space security

Co-authors of Forward Defense's recently released Atlantic Council Strategy Paper on "The Future of Security in Space: A Thirty-Year US Strategy" present at the 2021 State of the Space Industrial Base Workshop.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Space Space Security

Thu, Jul 15, 2021

Warrick testifies for the House Committee on Homeland Security

Forward Defense and Rafik Hariri Center and Middle East programs Nonresident Senior Fellow Thomas S. Warrick testifies for House Committee on Homeland Security.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Coronavirus Cybersecurity

Thu, Jul 15, 2021

Sadat presents at the State of the Space Industrial Base Conference

Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Mir Sadat presents on geopolitical strategic competition in space.

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Space

Wed, Jul 14, 2021

Estonian Prime Minister H.E. Kaja Kallas on securing digital infrastructure with ‘trusted connectivity’

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Rep. Ro Khanna, and NSC Sr. Director Peter Harrell speak at the Atlantic Council on challenges to securing infrastructure and the promise of a "trusted connectivity" approach.

Transcript by Atlantic Council

China Cybersecurity

Tue, Jul 13, 2021

Rallying the world’s democracies with ‘trusted connectivity’

As a framework for investments in global infrastructure by democratic nations, the concept of ‘trusted connectivity’ can serve as a counterweight to efforts like China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

New Atlanticist by Kaush Arha

Economy & Business European Union

Tue, Jul 13, 2021

Hu on the Scott Amyx Show on countering violent extremism and AI

Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Evanna Hu speaks with Scott Amyx on his podcast "The Innovating with Scott Amyx Show."

In the News by Atlantic Council

Extremism National Security

Mon, Jul 12, 2021

Grundman quoted in DefenseNews on the economic effects of COVID-19

Forward Defense Senior Fellow Steven Grundman quoted in DefenseNews in an article titled "Riding the wave: Defense revenues rise despite a dark 2020."

In the News

Defense Industry Defense Technologies

Thu, Jul 8, 2021

Sadat speaks with the Institute of World Politics on today’s space race

Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Mir Sadat speaks for The Institute of World Politics titled "A Space Vision To Guide America's Strategic Competition with China."

In the News by Atlantic Council

China Space