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

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

Experts react

Feb 15, 2024

Experts react: What to know about Russia’s apparent plans for a space-based nuclear weapon

By Atlantic Council experts

Reports that Russia is developing a space-based nuclear anti-satellite weapon have raised national security concerns in Washington.

Defense Policy National Security

Reports & issue briefs

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

Issue Brief

Nov 22, 2023

The role of nuclear weapons in a Taiwan crisis

By Gregory Weaver

Nuclear deterrence would be key in a Taiwan crisis, in part because a PLA amphibious fleet would be vulnerable to a US nuclear strike.

China Conflict

Past events

In the news

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

In the News

May 24, 2024

Massa in Forbes on Russia potentially stationing a nuclear ASAT in space

By Atlantic Council

Forward Defense Deputy Director for Strategic Forces Policy Mark Massa was quoted in Forbes about the potential for Russia to station a nuclear ASAT in orbit.

Nuclear Deterrence Russia

In the News

May 21, 2024

Torres coauthored for CSIS about Chinese hypersonic missiles in South American space ground control sites

On May 21, Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Guido Torres coauthored an article for the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled “Space, Speed, and Sovereignty: Hypersonic Tensions in the Southern Hemisphere.” The piece underscores that Chinese hypersonic missile connection to ground control sites in South America poses a threat for the United States and […]

Americas China

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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.