The Center on the Future of War develops and supports interdisciplinary research linking core Center faculty, affiliated faculty, members of the New America team and scholars and practitioners from other universities, civil society groups and various organizations.

Current research projects include the following:

Proxy War

This project investigates the rise of state and non-state sponsors of proxies, with a focus on the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. The project is managed through New America and funded by Carnegie Corporation and the Smith Richardson Foundation. The project is led by co-PIs Peter L Bergen, Anand Gopal, David Kilcullen, Candace Rondeaux and Daniel Rothenberg, all Center faculty. The project offers new ideas on the meaning of proxy warfare that move beyond dominant Cold War-era models and build on granular, context-rich evidence based on extensive fieldwork. Specifically, the project supports field research and case studies related to the evolution of the civil war in Syria and the rise of ISIS, armed groups in Idlib province, various state and non-state groups in Iraq, Russian contractors, complex alliances in Yemen and related issues. The project also creates a network of regional researchers and sponsors meetings on proxy war research in Turkey, Iraq and the US. The research conducted through this project is presented in a series of policy-oriented white papers, academic publications and a book.

Zomia Center

The Zomia Center is dedicated to the rigorous study of non-state spaces for scholarly and humanitarian pursuits. It is an initiative of Arizona State University’s Center on the Future of War and New America, a DC-based think tank. Zomia researchers produce contextually-sensitive, interdisciplinary and empirically-grounded studies on areas outside formal government control. The team currently works in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan. For more information on the Zomia Center, see

Weaponized Narrative Initiative

This project explores how stories are used to impose one group’s will and interests upon another. It links a discussion of the ways in which evolving technologies – the internet, artificial intelligence, bots, malware, etc. – enable strategies that build on conditions of uncertainty and mistrust, illustrating a new vision of conflict. The Weaponized Narrative Initiative is directed by Center faculty Brad Allenby and Joel Garreau, with Cyndi Coon as Producing Director. Allenby and Garreau coined the term “weaponized narrative” which has since been picked up around the world by journalists and political analysts. The project connects Center Affiliated Faculty from multiple fields with colleagues at ASU’s Center for Strategic Communication and a team of outside experts. The first report was published in March 2017 and distributed at the Future of War Conference in Washington, DC. For more information on the Weaponized Narrative Initiative, including a list of team members, publications and other materials, please seer:

Moral Injury

This project considers the ways in which the experience of war create complex, long-lasting ethical harm, an issue of increasing interest to veterans, their families, caregivers and others. The term is relatively new and responds to the need for new ideas to name the experience of armed conflict by soldiers, civilians, and others. The project began in September 2016 and links Core Center Faculty, Affiliated Faculty, representatives of the Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement, the Pat Tillman Center, local and national veterans’ groups. The project also engages partners associated with the PLuS Alliance, linking ASU with Kings College London and University of New South Wales as well as local veterans’ groups. Team members include ASU faculty Brad Allenby, Daniel Rothenberg, Mark von Hagen and others, as well as David Wood, ASU Future of War Senior Fellow at New America who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on moral injury. The Center has organized a number of panels and seminars on the subject and produced a 2017 white paper, released at an event held at New America in Washington, DC. and featured the issue in various conference panels and seminars. In 2018, we began a new cooperative project on moral injury with the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at George Mason University that is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities with a conference on the issue to be held in Washington DC in the Fall 2019.  


Since 2010, ASU and New America have been working together on various aspects of the use of military and civilian drones around the world. This work began with a 2011 conference that led to Peter Bergen and Daniel Rothenberg’s edited collection, Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy (Cambridge University Press), as well as a number of policy presentations, panel discussions and lectures in DC and at ASU. This research includes three widely cited on-line databases on U.S. drone attacks in Pakistandrone attacks in Yemen as well as the World of Drones project material collecting information on military drone development in over 80 countries around the world. That effort is based at New America and includes research by the International Security Program team, often supported by Center Student Research Fellows. Policy-oriented research on the use of drones to support international development and the rule of law is found in the report “Drones and Aerial Observation.” This project has expanded with work on regulating autonomous weapons and engaging ways that new military technologies are changing the character and experience of war.

Future Frontlines Lab

The mission of the Future Frontlines Lab is to develop unique transdisciplinary methodologies combining qualitative and quantitative analysis and build bridges between academic, civil society, military and governmental actors and institutions seeking to manage and mitigate the harmful effects of war. The goal of the project is to create collaborative research, policy and project-oriented networks to link rigorous fieldwork-based research with focused efforts on civilian protection. The project was launched in 2017 and involves a collaboration with Drexel University, specifically their Peace Engineering program.