Phase Zero Project

The Pentagon has a planning concept called “Phase Zero.” In an unsettled situation, Phase Zero is that time before a conflict starts, when it is still possible to shape the strategic landscape and prevent war.

New America is launching the Phase Zero Project to help redefine security-building for the twenty-first century. Using big data and a range of analytical tools, we are researching the root causes of war today, looking at water, energy, food, natural disasters, governance, demographics, historic communal and cross-border conflict, as well as how climate change will affect all of these variables and change the risks to peace. We will also identify investments and actions that could help avoid conflict, widespread social unrest, and mass migration. Our work will include extensive stakeholder engagement, with the intention of providing credible, evidence-backed information with utility for national security professionals.

About Us

The Phase Zero Project is part of New America’s Resource Security program, which looks at geopolitical and domestic natural resource security. Sharon Burke, the former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, originated the project, with the support of the Skoll Global Threats Fund.

Phase Zero website flowchart
(New America)

Our Research

  • Landscape survey of existing research and decision support tools.

  • Understanding U.S. strategic planning.

  • Risk Catalog: a decision support tool that assesses emerging worldwide conflict risks and prioritizes resilience investments.

Our Team

Braxton Bridgers

"As a member of New America’s inaugural class of Millennial Public Policy Fellows, I hope to assist the Natural Security team in its effort to bridge the gap between climate preparedness tools and the needs of defense planners."

Sharon Burke

"As a career national security professional, I am all about the mission. And I see our mission as providing my former colleagues with sensible, practical information they can use to improve twenty-first century readiness."

Emily Gallagher

"My past research has primarily focused on two outputs of war that can influence future instability: mass migration and environmental degradation. With the Phase Zero project I would like to see if including these outputs in the beginning - before war is inevitable - can persuade decision makers towards prevention."

Denice W. Ross

"As a longtime champion of data-driven decisionmaking in the public sector, I'm passionate about getting the most relevant information in the most intuitive format to the right people when they need it."