Seizing the Advantage


Forward Defense‘s “Seizing the Advantage: The Next US National Defense Strategy” explores the future of defense through frank review of current policy, cogent expert analysis of the present security environment, and actionable recommendations for strategy to meet future defense challenges. The project began with a series of op-eds and short analytical pieces designed to facilitate debate over the ideal strategic underpinnings, central pillars, and operationalization of future defense strategy, and has culminated in a published Atlantic Council Strategy Paper that articulates the Atlantic Council’s key recommendations for the next National Defense Strategy (NDS).

Read the Strategy Paper

The Department of Defense (DoD) needs a clear roadmap to counter today’s myriad security challenges—from strategic competitors (e.g., China and Russia) and regional aggressors to violent extremist organizations and climate change. Seizing the Advantage: A Vision for the Next US National Defense Strategy, by FD Deputy Director Clementine Starling, Senior US Air Force Fellow Lt Col Tyson Wetzel, and FD Assistant Director Christian Trotti, articulates Forward Defense’s recommendations for the next NDS, including four key proposals that will have the most impact on achieving US national security goals:

  1. The DoD should engage in hybrid warfare—both offensive and defensive—consistent with American values, in order to respond where competition with China and Russia is taking place today.
  2. The DoD should adopt a new operational concept, which the authors have termed the Combined Warfighting Concept, to integrate warfighting domains, US military services, and allies and partners.
  3. The DoD must build the force to dominate the data-centric, networked, and fast-paced armed conflict of the future—this Strategy Paper articulates clear investment priorities to build that force, and divestment priorities to afford it.
  4. The DoD must rebalance its global force posture away form a focus on Central Command, and toward other potential flashpoints in the Indo-Pacific and Europe.

The nation must tackle a new reality, developing the next strategy to secure the United States and the world. This paper…—Seizing the Advantage: A Vision for the Next US National Defense Strategy—is a thoughtful, realistic, and relevant answer to some of our most difficult challenges.”

Secretary Chuck Hagel, 24th US Secretary of Defense

Watch the launch event

Op-eds and commentary

FD’s leading-edge op-eds and commentary advance the debate on key defense issues and offer practical policy recommendations for the next National Defense Strategy.

External op-eds

As part of this project, some op-eds were published externally via other outlets.

Critical questions

Stay tuned for Q&A articles as distinguished security and defense experts respond to Forward Defense’s most pressing questions about the future of defense strategy and the next National Defense Strategy.

Project team


The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the US government or other organization.


Subscribe for more defense analysis

Sign up for updates from Forward Defense to hear the latest on the trends, technologies, and military challenges shaping tomorrow.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

All content on the next National Defense Strategy

The next National Defense Strategy must get Russia right

Issue Brief

Feb 24, 2022

The next National Defense Strategy must get Russia right

By Clementine G. Starling, Christian Trotti, Tyson Wetzel

The rapidly developing 2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis raises a key question for US defense policy makers as they finalize the next National Defense Strategy (NDS): How can the NDS get Russia “right”? This issue brief seeks to answer this question by developing a US defense strategy for deterring and managing the Russian threat in Europe and beyond, building upon the authors’ 2021 report, “Seizing the Advantage: A Vision for the Next US National Defense Strategy.”

Conflict Crisis Management


Dec 22, 2021

Seizing the advantage: A vision for the next US national defense strategy

By Clementine G. Starling, Tyson Wetzel, Christian Trotti

In this latest installment of the Atlantic Council Strategy Papers series, Forward Defense’s Clementine Starling, Lt Col Tyson Wetzel, and Christian Trotti articulate their vision and recommendations for the next US National Defense Strategy, including clearer prioritization, investments and divestments, reposturing of US forces, a new warfighting concept, and a focus on transnational threats like hybrid warfare and climate change.

China Defense Industry

Seizing the advantage

Aug 31, 2021

As the US faces increasing threats, the next National Defense Strategy must rise to meet them

By Matthew R. Crouch, Ronald C. Fairbanks

As US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin looks toward the future of the global strategic landscape, he will wrestle with questions surrounding how to frame the current strategic environment, align US and allied efforts, and balance varied threats.

China Conflict

In the News

Jun 2, 2021

Lt Col Mulder in the National Interest on foreign training programs

By Atlantic Council

Lt Col Mulder considers the value of training opportunities with allies in building a formidable military force.

Defense Policy National Security

Seizing the advantage

May 27, 2021

A connected world is a vulnerable world. The US can help secure it.

By Benjamin Jensen

National security is no longer measured by the size of a country’s military forces. It is measured by how efficiently and securely a country, as part of a network of allies and partners, exchanges information, resources, and ideas.

China Cybersecurity

Seizing the advantage

May 3, 2021

How the US and EU can counter digital threats together

By Harry I. Hannah

Russian and Chinese threats all seek to exploit gaps in Western cyber defenses and digital and information governance. To close these gaps as a part of its defense strategy, the United States should develop a strong collaborative relationship with the European Union in the digital and information sphere.

Cybersecurity Defense Industry

Seizing the advantage

Apr 2, 2021

Recalculating the math of great-power competition

By Arun Iyer

To better serve US interests, the Biden administration should recalculate the DoD’s GPC framework to address the threats that the country is most likely to confront, while improving the United States’ preparedness for the most dangerous threats. It should replace the single “2+3” concept with three multilayered and interactive frameworks nested upon one another.

Defense Policy Security & Defense

In the News

Mar 29, 2021

Mulder and Siegel in National Interest on Space Strategy

By Atlantic Council

On March 29, FD Senior Military Fellow Christopher P. Mulder and Young Global Professional Julia Siegel wrote a piece in National Interest on the role that space operations should play in a future National Defense Strategy. They argued that the centrality of space as a military domain will require a recognition of the need for new capabilities and strategies.

Space Security United States and Canada

Seizing the advantage

Mar 18, 2021

US national defense strategy and the future of foreign military sales

By Charles W. Hooper

Ongoing great-power competition, US efforts to strengthen alliances and partnerships, and the global dominance of the US defense industry will ensure that FMS remains a policy tool of first resort. This being the case, US policymakers need to ensure that it is the most efficient tool that it can be.

Defense Industry Defense Policy

Seizing the advantage

Mar 15, 2021

What the US can learn from the UK about strategic reviews

By Peter Watkins, Will Jessett CBE

The Biden administration has begun work on a slew of strategies—including a new National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Nuclear Posture Review—that will form the framework for its approach to security challenges. There’s a lot that it can learn from the British experience of conducting strategic reviews.

China Defense Industry
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.