About our work

The Department of Defense needs a clear roadmap to counter today’s myriad security challenges—from strategic competitors and regional aggressors to violent extremist organizations and climate change. Strategic thinking is essential in order to align priorities and ensure US and allied national security.

Forward Defense explores this issue set through frank review of current defense policy, cogent expert analysis of the present security environment, and actionable recommendations for strategy to meet future defense challenges.

Featured projects

Forward Defense and Seizing the Advantage

Seizing the advantage: The next US National Defense Strategy

The Atlantic Council’s Forward Defense practice advances leading-edge commentary and key recommendations to help chart the course for the United States’ next National Defense Strategy.

Latest analysis

Featured reports


New Atlanticist

Feb 27, 2023

How a fleet of private satellites can help secure the US military’s future

By Aidan Poling

The US military’s satellites are “fat juicy targets.” Working with commercial satellite owners on creating a reserve fleet will help the United States bolster itself against attacks.

Defense Technologies National Security

New Atlanticist

Feb 15, 2023

What US adversaries are learning from the balloon and UFO saga

By Jennifer A. Counter

The reactions to these objects among politicians and the public say more about “us” than “them.”

China Drones

Experts react

Jan 25, 2023

Experts react: The West finally sends in the tanks. What will they mean for Ukraine’s fight?

By Atlantic Council experts

Is this a turning point for Germany’s participation in arming Ukraine? Our experts lay out what’s next.

Conflict Defense Policy
U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

Hybrid Conflict Project

Dec 22, 2022

Scoping the gray zone: Defining terms and policy priorities for engaging competitors below the threshold of conflict

By Atlantic Council’s Gray Zone Task Force

This Strategic Insights Memo, produced by Forward Defense’s Gray Zone Task Force, considers the scope of modern gray zone activity and the implications for US and allies strategy.

China Defense Policy

Issue Brief

Dec 20, 2022

Arms racing under nuclear tripolarity: Evidence for an action-reaction cycle?

By Matthew Kroenig

Matthew Kroenig argues that there has not been a nuclear arms race since the Cold War—but that China’s nuclear buildup might start one.

Arms Control China


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Forward Defense

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.


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