The Scowcroft Center’s namesake, General Brent Scowcroft, was the chairman of the 1983 Scowcroft Commission that established the foundation for US nuclear deterrence and arms control policy through the present day. As the United States enters a new era of strategic challenges, the Scowcroft Center’s Forward Defense program is proud to play a central role in crafting an effective and nonpartisan strategic forces strategy and policy for the twenty-first century.

The 2022 National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review caution that the United States will, for the first time in its history, face the challenge of simultaneously deterring two nuclear great powers, each with aggressive revisionist goals. Our Nuclear Strategy Project, within the Forward Defense program, focuses on the role of nuclear deterrence, nuclear strategy and employment, missile defense, and arms control in deterring conventional aggression and nuclear escalation against the United States, its allies, and partners.

Principal research areas

Must Reads

Report

Feb 2, 2024

Requirements for nuclear deterrence and arms control in a two-nuclear-peer environment

By Greg Weaver and Amy Woolf

Gregory Weaver and Amy Woolf discuss the future of US nuclear posture and arms control, as the United States will soon face two adversaries with peer nuclear arsenals.

Arms Control China

Commentary & quick analysis

New Atlanticist

Jul 3, 2024

Don’t cut corners on US nuclear deterrence

By Matthew Kroenig, Mark J. Massa

Bipartisan support for modernizing and expanding the US nuclear arsenal will be essential for the United States to deter its adversaries.

Conflict Defense Industry

New Atlanticist

May 21, 2024

Congress should save the Sentinel ICBM—its true value is more than simply its cost

By James McCue

The value of the new intercontinental ballistic missile program should be measured over its full lifetime and not just by its current price tag.

Defense Technologies National Security

New Atlanticist

Apr 11, 2024

Is the United States falling behind the North Korean ICBM threat? Congress needs answers.

By Robert Soofer

Washington must not wait until Pyongyang is regularly test-launching ICBMs with multiple re-entry vehicles and countermeasures to improve US defenses.

Defense Technologies Korea

New Atlanticist

Apr 3, 2024

The US is building a nuclear sea-launched cruise missile. Congress must make sure it’s built right.

By Robert Soofer

There are forces at play—bureaucratic, budgetary, and programmatic—that could stymie the SLCM-N if US lawmakers do not pay close attention.

Defense Technologies Nuclear Deterrence

New Atlanticist

Feb 15, 2024

Russian nuclear anti-satellite weapons would require a firm US response, not hysteria

By Clementine G. Starling, Mark J. Massa

If fielded, such weapons would directly challenge norms of responsible behavior in space and present a serious risk to all nations’ satellites.

Arms Control Russia

Reports & issue briefs

Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS)

Issue Brief

Jul 15, 2024

Modernizing space-based nuclear command, control, and communications

By Peter L. Hays and Sarah Mineiro

While nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) is in the midst of a modernization overhaul, the space-based elements of NC3 face unique geopolitical, technical, and bureaucratic challenges. This paper focuses on space-based missions and elements of the existing NC3 system, analyzing how ongoing modernization programs are addressing these challenges as well as offering recommendations.

China Defense Policy

Report

Feb 2, 2024

Requirements for nuclear deterrence and arms control in a two-nuclear-peer environment

By Greg Weaver and Amy Woolf

Gregory Weaver and Amy Woolf discuss the future of US nuclear posture and arms control, as the United States will soon face two adversaries with peer nuclear arsenals.

Arms Control China

Issue Brief

Jan 31, 2024

A US-South Korea alliance strategic memo on deterrence

By Markus Garlauskas, Lauren D. Gilbert

With North Korea’s rapidly advancing military technology, aggressive nuclear policy changes, and deepening ties with the PRC making deterrence on the Korean Peninsula increasingly more complex, this is how the US and South Korea can shore up cooperative deterrence and boost alliance resilience.

China Defense Policy
Snow leopard in the rain

Atlantic Council Strategy Paper Series

Jan 17, 2024

Six ‘snow leopards’ to watch for in 2024

Atlantic Council foresight experts spot the underappreciated phenomena that could have outsize impact on the world, driving global change and shaping the future.

Climate Change & Climate Action Defense Technologies
Image for Deliberate nuclear use in a war over Taiwan: Scenarios and considerations for the United States

Report

Nov 30, 2023

Deliberate nuclear use in a war over Taiwan: Scenarios and considerations for the United States

By Matthew Kroenig

Matthew Kroenig argues the US and the PRC would have incentives to use nuclear weapons in a Taiwan war. The US must deter PRC nuclear use.

Arms Control China

Past events

In the news

In the News

Jun 27, 2024

McCue quoted in the Economist regarding the damage of a potential Russian nuclear detonation in orbit

By Atlantic Council

On June 27, 2024, Forward Defense Visiting Senior Fellow Lieutenant Colonel James McCue was quoted in an article from the Economist regarding the damage a Russian nuclear detonation in orbit would cause. McCue stated that the result of such a detonation would be “satellite Armageddon.”

Nuclear Deterrence Russia

In the News

Jun 25, 2024

Dean quoted in the Australian on AUKUS and nuclear energy debate

On June 25, IPSI nonresident senior fellow Peter Dean was quoted in the Australian, where he discussed how the political debate over the Coalition’s nuclear energy proposal could threaten bipartisan support for AUKUS and obtaining nuclear-powered submarines.

Australia Indo-Pacific

In the News

Jun 6, 2024

Chilton in DefenseNews on nuclear triad investment

By Atlantic Council

On June 5, Forward Defense distinguished fellow General Kevin Chilton, USAF (Ret.) published an article in DefenseNews on the need to continue forward with the nuclear triad modernization program, entitled “US security demands continued nuclear triad investment.”

China Defense Policy

In the News

May 28, 2024

Soofer cited in Asia Times on the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile

By Atlantic Council

Forward Defense Senior Fellow Dr. Robert Soofer’s recent article on the SLCM-N was cited in the Asia Times.

China Defense Policy

In the News

May 24, 2024

McCue article reprinted in RealClearDefense and featured in “Morning Recon” newsletter

By Atlantic Council

RealClearDefense republished James McCue’s article, “Congress should save the Sentinel ICBM—its true value is more than simply its cost.”

Defense Technologies Nuclear Deterrence

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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.