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
Shape US nuclear strategy and implications for extended deterrence, allied assurance, and nuclear escalation.
Inform the national and/or international debate concerning potential changes in nuclear strategy and nuclear force structure.
Assess the changing requirements for extended deterrence and assurance of allies under nuclear triploarity.
Understand and shape the changing nature of and role for arms control in the new trilateral security environment.
Assess the relationship between US nuclear deterrence requirements and nuclear arms control to inform US negotiating positions for a potential future arms control framework.
Shape the relationship between homeland missile defense and US nuclear strategy as it relates to North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China.
Anticipate and inform the national and international debate on new technologies for missile defense and its implications for strategic stability.
Assess the implications of new threats and technologies for US nuclear deterrence and strategy.
Understand and assess which threats have the greatest potential for affecting the military balance and nuclear deterrence.
Commentary & quick analysis
Memo to the president Sep 16, 2022
Memo to the president: How to deter Russian nuclear use in Ukraine—and respond if deterrence fails
The US should issue vague public threats of serious consequences should Russia use nuclear weapons and be prepared to follow through with conventional military strikes if deterrence fails.
New Atlanticist Feb 20, 2023
Experts react: One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US releases new sanctions and China steps in with a ‘peace’ plan
By Atlantic Council experts
Atlantic Council experts share their insights on the importance of Biden’s surprise trip to Kyiv and more at the one-year mark of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Reports & issue briefs
Report Apr 24, 2018
A strategy for deterring Russian de-escalation strikes
By Matthew Kroenig
The United States and its NATO allies have not developed a clear strategy for deterring limited Russian nuclear strikes. Specifically, in the event of a limited Russian nuclear attack, how would the United States and its NATO allies respond?
Report Nov 2, 2021
Deterring Chinese strategic attack: Grappling with the implications of China’s strategic forces buildup
By Matthew Kroenig
To counter the increasing threat from China’s assertive foreign policy and growing nuclear capabilities, Matthew Kroenig outlines a strategy for Washington and allies to reliably deter Chinese strategic attack.
In the news
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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.