The Future of DHS Project: Protecting the Homeland from Coronavirus, Threats to Democracy, and Other Future Threats is a project of Forward Defense within the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. The project will develop recommendations for how to improve the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The project released its Key Findings and Recommendations in August 2020, in time to inform the transition teams of both parties that formed after the political party nominating conventions. In September, the project launched its Full Report. In December, the project held an event with The Hon. Bennie Thompson to discuss congressional oversight reform of DHS and published its recommendations for reforming congressional oversight of DHS.

Read our recommendations for Congressional Oversight

Tue, Dec 29, 2020

The Future of DHS Project: Key Findings and Recommendations: Congressional Oversight

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is overseen by more than ninety committees and subcommittees–an oversight burden far greater than any other cabinet department. This issue brief proposes that Congress streamline its oversight of DHS to increase its effectiveness as a department with national security responsibilities.

Issue Brief by Thomas Warrick & Mark J. Massa

Defense Policy Infrastructure Protection

Event recording: Chairman Thompson on congressional oversight of DHS

Event recording: Full Report launch

Read the Full Report

Wed, Sep 9, 2020

Future of DHS Project: Full report

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs to refocus its mission to lead the defense of the United States against major nonmilitary threats.

Report by Thomas Warrick & Caitlin Durkovich

China Coronavirus

Read the Key Findings and Recommendations

Thu, Aug 13, 2020

Future of DHS Project: Key findings and recommendations

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs to refocus its mission to lead the defense of the United States against major nonmilitary threats.

Issue Brief by Thomas Warrick & Caitlin Durkovich

China Coronavirus

Project study groups

  1. DHS’s Mission: Reevaluating the mission of the Department, especially in light of emerging threats from infectious diseases like COVID-19; foreign nation-state threats to our democracy through cyber, social media, and disinformation; increasing threats to critical infrastructure; and domestic terrorism—at the same time that DHS needs to maintain its other missions like counterterrorism, border and aviation security, maritime security, disaster preparedness, and counternarcotics.
  2. Public-Private Partnerships and International Trade: How DHS approaches public-private partnerships and facilitates international trade.
  3. Aligning Policy and Resources: The March 14 seven-hour delays at airports to screen arriving travelers from Europe is an example of this continuing challenge.
  4. Improving How DHS Builds Capacity of Overseas Counterparts: How DHS and the State Department coordinate DHS’s security sector assistance for overseas capacity building. Both the Obama and Trump Administration’s national security and counterterrorism strategies call for building up the capacity of partner governments to address terrorism and other threats before they reach our shores, but coordination continues to pose challenges.
  5. DHS’s Workplace Challenges, including ongoing issues of employee morale: Despite strong employee enthusiasm for DHS’s mission, the 2019 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey found DHS ranked 17 of 17 large cabinet departments in employee morale.
  6. Streamline Legislative Oversight: More than 90 committees and subcommittees have jurisdiction overall or part of DHS. Many studies and recommendations made the point that DHS’s legislative oversight needs to be streamlined. The best window of opportunity for this will be during the 90-day window between the November 3 election and the start of the 117th Congress on January 4, 2021.

Project director & co-director

Assistant Director


The Future of DHS Project was launched with support from founding partners SAIC and Accenture and an additional generous contribution from Lumen (formerly CenturyLink).


Tue, Jun 8, 2021

Avoiding the next transatlantic security crisis: The looming clash over Passenger Name Record data

Online Event Transatlantic security experts join the Scowcroft Center and the Europe Center to discuss the need to harmonize policies on Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to avoid another airline security crisis.

12:00pm Europe & Eurasia International Norms International Organizations National Security

Wed, Apr 28, 2021

Warrick in Cipher Brief on the coming border crisis

Forward Defense and Rafik Hariri Center and Middle East Programs Nonresident Senior Fellow Thomas S. Warrick published an article in the Cipher Brief titled “How do we get past the coming border crisis?”

Future of DHS by Atlantic Council

Migration National Security

Mon, Apr 26, 2021

Warrick in the Washington Post on extremism within DHS

Forward Defense Nonresident Senior Fellow Thomas S. Warrick was quoted in an article in the Washington Post titled “Homeland Security launches review of violent extremism within agency.”

Future of DHS by Atlantic Council

Defense Policy Extremism

Broader issues for homeland security

Wed, Sep 8, 2021

The future of counterterrorism: Twenty years after 9/11

Online Event US national security experts discuss counterterrorism twenty years after 9/11, reimagining the future of the terrorist threat.

10:30am Europe & Eurasia Extremism Intelligence Middle East

Wed, Mar 4, 2020

A framework for an open, trusted, and resilient 5G global telecommunications network

The rollout of 5G will take place over the next decade, and its future is still being written. But, the United States and its allies are behind; they must act now or face irrelevancy. This study lays out a vision for a global 5G network that satisfies the values of the United States and like-minded partners and is in the best interests of the global population.

Report by John T. Watts

Cybersecurity Technology & Innovation

Wed, Dec 11, 2019

Aviation cybersecurity: Scoping the challenge

The digital attack surface the aviation sector presents to its adversaries continues to grow in such a way that both managing risk and gaining insight on it remain difficult. With emerging technologies like machine learning and fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications seeing wider adoption—alongside electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL), autonomous aircraft, and increased use of space—aviation-cybersecurity risk management is on the cusp of becoming more complex.

Report by Pete Cooper, Simon Handler, Safa Shahwan Edwards

Cybersecurity Infrastructure Protection

Wed, Oct 30, 2019

Global risks 2035 update: Decline or new renaissance?

Our conclusion in 2016’s Global Risks 2035 was that state-on-state conflict posed a bigger threat than terrorism. In the two years since, the post-Cold War order has continued to unravel without a “new normal” emerging.

Atlantic Council Strategy Paper Series by Mathew Burrows

China NATO

Wed, Oct 30, 2019

Present at the re-creation: A global strategy for revitalizing, adapting, and defending a rules-based international system

We need a new strategy—one that is both ambitious and innovative, geared towards meeting the challenges and opportunities that the new decade brings.

Atlantic Council Strategy Paper Series by Ash Jain, Matthew Kroenig

China NATO

Wed, Apr 1, 2020

The battle for 5G leadership is global and the US is behind: The White House’s new strategy aims to correct that.

The West has fallen behind in the competition for leadership of the 5G transition, a reality that has huge economic implications and also risks the West facing the reality of a global telecommunications backbone that not only has serious security flaws, but is also shaped by political values incompatible with our own. A new White House strategy aims to close the 5G transition gap.

New Atlanticist by John T. Watts

Defense Technologies Internet

Tue, Mar 24, 2020

The 5×5—Minding the cyber talent gap

Defending against threats in cyberspace is hard enough, but severe cybersecurity talent deficiencies have consistently made the challenge harder for both public and private sector organizations. Our Cyber Statecraft Initiative experts go 5×5 to dig into the people problem of cybersecurity, its implications, and possible solutions.

New Atlanticist by Simon Handler


Thu, Mar 12, 2020

Explainer: What Trump’s Europe coronavirus travel ban means

US President Donald J. Trump’s surprise March 11 announcement barring most travel from Europe to the United States for thirty days starting March 13 rattled stock markets and sent travelers scrambling to make new arrangements. We look in more detail at the implications of the US president’s announcement.

New Atlanticist by Atlantic Council

Economy & Business European Union

Tue, Feb 11, 2020

US taking right approach with China over coronavirus, former White House official says

As world leaders attempt to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus, the United States has been correct to take “a soft touch approach to the relationship with Beijing,” former US homeland security advisor Thomas P. Bossert said at the Atlantic Council on February 11.

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

China Coronavirus

Mon, Jan 27, 2020

Warring for the soul of the internet: Ten years on

The new reality is one where democracies must play a more assertive role to protect an open, free, fair, and secure internet, utilizing a strategy that recognizes the changes the internet has undergone, the pernicious influence of authoritarian states, and the role companies have in both protecting and fragmenting it. The internet can’t be brought back in time but there is hope, perhaps, that its original core values can be preserved in a new form through determined effort by its users, some companies, and the democratic states where the open web was born.

New Atlanticist by Trey Herr, Justin Sherman

Cybersecurity Internet

Fri, Jan 10, 2020

US reportedly targets another top Iranian military figure, Abdul Reza Shahlai

US forces tried to target Shahlai, a senior Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps–Qods Force leader currently located in Yemen.

New Atlanticist by Thomas S. Warrick


Thu, Apr 9, 2020

Closing the cyber skills gap: Nine perspectives on Cyber 9/12

Cyber 9/12 was a resounding success, with twenty-two teams, over forty-five judges, and six keynote speakers participating virtually from across the United States. We asked nine individuals who contributed to Cyber 9/12 DC in different ways to share their insights, experiences, and takeaways from the event.

New Atlanticist by Will Loomis


Tue, Aug 3, 2021

The future of counterterrorism: Twenty years after 9/11

National security experts examine how the United States and its allies and partners must reimagine their counterterrorism strategies to counter the next terrorist threat.

Tue, Mar 24, 2020

Six reasons the Kremlin spreads disinformation about the coronavirus

Fabrications about COVID-19’s origins are meant to stir up anti-U.S. sentiment and fuel discord.

Article by Jakub Kalenský

Coronavirus Disinformation

Tue, Apr 7, 2020

Six reasons NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre is important for our future security

Even as the Alliance continues to focus on its core defense and deterrence efforts—and rightly so—it should not dismiss capabilities like the EADRCC as bureaucratic side projects. Instead, with an eye to the future, transatlantic policymakers should rethink how to empower and reinforce these types of capabilities to meet different types of threats.

New Atlanticist by Lauren Speranza

Coronavirus Crisis Management

Fri, Apr 3, 2020

American disaster, American resilience

As we contemplate the road back from the coronavirus depression, we need to think big and fix things, at home and abroad. We’re still going deeper into an American disaster. But American resilience can get us out of it.

New Atlanticist by Daniel Fried

Coronavirus Economy & Business
A net launched from a net-capture system just before catching its target, Quantico, Virginia (December 2018). Source: Red Six Solutions

Mon, May 4, 2020

Drone attacks against critical infrastructure: A real and present threat

Read the Middle East Program’s new paper on the use of weaponized drones in the Middle East, with recommendations for policymakers.

Issue Brief by Dr. Scott Crino and Conrad “Andy” Dreby

Drones Middle East

Forward Defense 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.