December 15, 2020 | Press Release


December 15, 2020 | Press Release


Former Defense Secretary Panetta, Former National Security Advisor McMaster Among Authors Who Provide Road Map for Future U.S. Overseas Military Posture

Report Covers Middle East, Europe, and Indo-Pacific and Features Five Sections and 22 Essays.

WASHINGTON, DC, December 15, 2020 – A major new report released today by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD’s) Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP) pushes back against the “endless war” narrative and the misconception that the United States can safely conduct wholesale military withdrawals that ignore persistent threats.

In a substantive and comprehensive collection of essays, the report explains why the forward-positioning of U.S. forces in key locations alongside allies and partners represents the best way to defend American interests. The report, edited by CMPP Senior Director Bradley Bowman, includes a foreword by Obama administration Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta as well as five sections, 22 essays, and a conclusion. They provide analyses and specific recommendations regarding U.S. military posture in the Middle East, Europe, and the Indo-Pacific.

“Withdrawing into a defensive and insular crouch here at home risks leaving Americans more isolated and more vulnerable to threats,” writes former Secretary of Defense Panetta in the foreword to “Defending Forward: Securing America by Projecting Military Power Abroad.” “More than ever, Americans must go abroad to remain secure at home.”

“Disengagement from competitions overseas would increase dangers to the United States,” writes LTG (Ret.) H.R. McMaster, who served as a U.S. Army officer for 34 years and remained on active duty while serving as President Donald Trump’s national security advisor. “The paltry savings realized would be dwarfed by the eventual cost of responding to unchecked and undeterred threats to American security, prosperity, and influence.”

“[T]he United States should maintain the most capable military forces possible, retain well-designed defenses, and forward-deploy military forces alongside key allies and partners,” write FDD President Clifford May and Bowman. “This approach will not end all wars, now or in the future. It will, however, better protect Americans – while making conflicts fewer and farther between.”

In the report’s conclusion, titled “Charting a Bipartisan Path to Secure American Interests,” Bowman calls on Washington to “strengthen relationships with countries that share common interests and values,” while warning against the “false impression that the United States can complete timeline-based withdrawals with few negative repercussions.”

Defending Forward” is divided into five sections:

  • The first section, titled “The Big Debate and Looming Challenges,” includes essays by LTG (Ret.) McMaster, May and Bowman, as well as FDD Senior Vice President for Research Jonathan Schanzer and Chief Executive Mark Dubowitz. They provide historical context and argue the United States should retain an optimized forward-positioned U.S. military posture in key locations alongside allies and partners.
  • Sections two, three, and four examine three regional combatant commands that are vital to U.S. security and prosperity: Central Command, European Command, and Indo-Pacific Command, respectively. The contributions in each section describe U.S. national security interests, the leading threats to those interests, and the necessary American military posture in each region.

In addition to Secretary Panetta and LTG (Ret.) McMaster, authors include Ambassador Eric Edelman, Dr. Samantha Ravich, Dr. David Kilcullen, Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ben Hodges, Lieutenant General (Ret.) Edward Cardon, Eric Sayers, John Hannah, David Maxwell, RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery, and more than 15 other experts.

To contact FDD media relations, please email [email protected].


About the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan policy institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Connect with FDD on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

About FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power:

FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power promotes understanding of the defense strategies, policies, and capabilities necessary to deter and defeat threats to the freedom, security, and prosperity of Americans and our allies by providing rigorous, timely, and relevant research and analysis. Follow CMPP on Twitter.