National Security and Defense Program

About the National Security and Defense Program

About the Program

The National Security and Defense program aims to enhance the peace and prosperity of the United States and its allies by helping policymakers and the public better understand the threats the United States faces and the options it and its allies have for responding to them. The risk of great-power conflict has risen since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, while non-state actors—especially transnational terrorist organizations, insurgencies, and drug cartels—have become more effective than ever in low-intensity conflict. CFR's national security fellows work to develop the policies, strategies, and tactics needed to minimize security vulnerabilities in our rapidly changing global environment.

The stakes are high. Both Russia and China are increasingly challenging the United States and its allies and trying to overturn the post-1945 world order. Iran is ramping up its nuclear program. North Korea can now hit the United States with nuclear-tipped missiles. Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups may step into the vacuum created by the U.S. departure from Afghanistan. Nations like Libya and Yemen are in chaos. The U.S. military confronts the challenges presented not only by traditional, industrial-age warfare (of the kind that Russia is practicing in Ukraine) but also by unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, precision-guided munitions, cyber-weapons, and other cutting-edge technologies.

Dealing with these threats and many others requires informed policymakers and an informed electorate. The National Security and Defense program works to enrich the public debate through books, articles, op-eds, blog posts, interviews, congressional testimony, roundtables, and briefings.