Photo: US Army

The Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and its Forward Defense program have stood up the Commission on Software-Defined Warfareto digitally transform the armed forces for success in future battlefields.  

Co-chaired by 27th US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, Former Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox, and President of Purdue University Mung Chiang and comprised of a distinguished group of subject-matter and industry commissioners, the Commission will develop a framework to enhance US and allied forces through emergent digital capabilities.

Near-peer US competitors, China and Russia, are recognizing and adapting to a paradigm shift in modern technology that can potentially alter existing military balances of power. While the United States is a powerhouse of innovative commercial technology—from inexpensive attritable drones to autonomy and artificial intelligence, the warfighter, and the institutions and processes in place to sustain it, are not designed to harness them at a competitive pace.

In order to overcome adversarial challenges in a modern software-driven security environment, the US Department of Defense must modernize its archaic platform-centric approach to capability development. Following the success of the Council’s 2022-2023 Commission on Defense Innovation Adoption, this Atlantic Council Commission will consider how the US Defense Department and its allies ought to approach software-defined warfare, which consists of leveraging modern software practices and integrating them into current platforms to optimize or improve defense strategies.  

Meet the Commissioners

Commission co-chairs


Industry commissioners

Meet the Commission Staff

Commission Director



Meet the Project Team

Stay Engaged

Engage with Forward Defense as we put forth a framework for enhancing US and allied forces by embracing emergent digital capabilities.


Foundational Sponsors

Booz Allen Hamilton
Lockheed Martin
Second Front Systems


Accrete AI
Domino Data Lab
Fortem Technologies
Kodiak Robotics
Latent AI
Primer AI
Scale AI
Forward Defense

Forward Defense, housed within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, generates ideas and connects stakeholders in the defense ecosystem to promote an enduring military advantage for the United States, its allies, and partners. Our work identifies the defense strategies, capabilities, and resources the United States needs to deter and, if necessary, prevail in future conflict.