In the modern era, there is great convergence in the technologies used by friendly nations and by hostile ones. Signals intelligence agencies find themselves penetrating the technologies that they also at times must protect. To ease this tension, the United States and its partners have relied on an approach sometimes called Nobody But Us, or NOBUS: target communications mechanisms using unique methods accessible only to the United States. This paper examines how the NOBUS approach works, its limits, and the challenging matter of what comes next.
Brigadier General Kevin Ryan (U.S. Army retired) is an Associate Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Until his retirement from full time work in May 2017, Ryan was founder and Director, Defense and Intelligence Projects at Belfer Center. A career military officer, he served in air and missile defense, intelligence, and political-military policy areas. From 1995 to 1996, he was head of the Moscow office of the POW/MIA Commission, searching for missing Americans in the former Soviet states. From 1998 to 2000, he served as Senior Regional Director for Slavic States in the Office of Secretary of Defense and, from 2001 to 2003, as Defense Attaché to Russia. He also served as Chief of Staff for the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command, an organization with diverse missions that include deployment of missile defenses, cyber assets, satellite management and research in areas like directed energy. He has commanded at every level from platoon to brigade and served in Europe, Korea, and Iraq. In his last duty assignment he was responsible for Army Strategic War Plans, Policy, and International Affairs and coordinated Army policy in the domestic interagency and with foreign allies.
Ryan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Military Academy, a Masters degree in Russian Language and Literature from Syracuse University and, a Masters degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College. Ryan has been a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy and was Vice President for Business Development at iRobot Corporation. He is a member of the Board of the American Councils for International Education (ACTR/ACCELS) and a member of the Belfer Center Board of Directors. Ryan was the founding director of the center's U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, where he also founded the “Elbe Group" (retired US and Russian flag officers from the military and intelligence fields). He was previously Executive Director for Research of the Belfer Center from 2010 to 2013. He is the author of over 20 articles and book chapters on various leadership and security topics.
Main Areas of Expertise:
- U.S.-Russian Security Relations – Fluent in Russian. Served as Senior Defense Attaché in Moscow from 2001 to 2003. Participated in U.S.-Russian negotiations and cooperation.
- Missile Defense – Served as Chief of Staff of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and 29+ years in U.S. Army as Air Defense Officer.
- Unmanned Ground Systems – Former Vice President for Business Development of iRobot Corporation's Government Division. Concentrated in unmanned ground systems for military and industrial applications.
- Military Intelligence – Served in multiple intelligence assignments.