The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Please join Elbe Group members Douglas Lute, Kevin Ryan, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Michael Maples, and guest Dan Hoffman for a discussion on the current state of US-Russia relations.
The Elbe Group
The purpose of the “Elbe Group” is to maintain an open and continuous channel of communication on sensitive issues of US-Russian relations.
The members of the Elbe Group are senior retired military and intelligence flag officers, all of whom have strong connections back into their governments. It is an unprecedented gathering of three and four star veterans from the Federal Security Service, Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, Ministry of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Department of Defense. The Elbe Group has high level visibility in both the US and Russian governments. President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have all been personally briefed on the group by Russian members. Current chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov participated in the Elbe Group Round Table on Missile Defense in November 2011, hosted by former Minister of Interior, General Anatoly Kulikov. US members likewise send feedback directly to the highest levels in Department of State, DIA, CIA and Defense Department.
The next Elbe Group Meeting will take place March 2019.
Douglas Lute is the former United States Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s standing political body. Appointed by President Obama, he assumed the Brussels-based post in 2013 and served until 2017. During this period he was instrumental in designing and implementing the 28-nation Alliance’s responses to the most severe security challenges in Europe since the end of the Cold War. He received the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award.
A career Army officer, in 2010 Lute retired from active duty as a lieutenant general after 35 years of service. In 2007 President Bush named him as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor to coordinate the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009 he was the senior White House official retained by President Obama and his focus on the National Security Council staff shifted to South Asia. Across these two Administrations, he served a total of six years in the White House.
Before being assigned to the White House, General Lute served as Director of Operations (J3) on the Joint Staff, overseeing U.S. military operations worldwide. From 2004 to 2006, he was Director of Operations for the United States Central Command, with responsibility for U.S. military operations in 25 countries across the Middle East, eastern Africa and Central Asia, in which over 200,000 U.S. troops operated.
In earlier assignments he served as Deputy Director of Operations for the United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany; Assistant Division Commander in the 1st Infantry Division in Germany; Commander of U.S. Forces in Kosovo; and Commander of the Second Cavalry Regiment. Through his military career, he received numerous honors and awards, including three awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
General Lute holds degrees from the United States Military Academy at West Point and from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a charter member of the Flag Officer Advisory Group of the United States Institute of Peace.Ambassador Douglas Lute is the former United States Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s standing political body. Appointed by President Obama, he assumed the Brussels-based post in 2013 and served until 2017. During this period he was instrumental in designing and implementing the 28-nation Alliance’s responses to the most severe security challenges in Europe since the end of the Cold War. He received the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award.
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.
Lieutenant General Mike Maples became Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in November 2005. The Defense Intelligence Agency is a 7,500-person combat support agency with personnel deployed to more than 130 countries worldwide. Lieutenant General Maples also commands the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance for the United States Strategic Command.
Prior to assuming his present duties, Lieutenant General Maples served as the Vice Director and Director of Management of the Joint Staff. Lieutenant General Maples’ command assignments include: Commanding General of the United States Army Field Artillery Center and Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Chief of Field Artillery for the United States Army; Assistant Division Commander, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany; 41st Field Artillery Brigade, Babenhausen, Germany; 6th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery (MLRS) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Desert Shield/Desert Storm; and B Battery, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery, 2nd Infantry Division, Republic of Korea. During Desert Storm, his battalion was the only unit in theater capable of firing the Army Tactical Missile System.
Lieutenant General Maples was assigned to Headquarters, Department of the Army, as the Director of Operations, Readiness and Mobilization, and Director of Military Support in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans. He served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Intelligence, Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), and for the Kosovo Force (KFOR), Operation Joint Guardian. Other previous assignments include Assistant Chief of Staff, G3, V Corps, Heidelberg, Germany, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations for United States Army Europe (FWD), Taszar, Hungary, Operation Joint Endeavor.
A native of Bonham, Texas, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery in 1971 following graduation from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, and holds a master’s degree in organizational behavior from Pacific Lutheran University. His military education includes the Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course, the United States Army Command and General Staff College, and the National War College.
Lieutenant General Maples’ decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Army Achievement Medal. Foreign decorations include the French Croix du Guerre with Silver Star.
Daniel Hoffman is a former Chief of Station and Senior Executive Clandestine Service Officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, which included 5 years in Moscow. His combined 30 years of distinguished government service included high-level positions not only within the CIA, but also with the U.S. military, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Commerce. Assignments included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union, Europe, and war zones in both the Middle East and South Asia. During this time, Hoffman developed substantive expertise on geopolitical and transnational issues related to the Middle East, South Asia, Russia, counter-terrorism, and cyber and counter-intelligence. Now in the private sector, Mr. Hoffman remains highly regarded for his policy experience and his work with foreign officials in the regions where he served.
Rolf Mowatt-Larssen is the Director of the Intelligence Project at the Belfer Center.
Prior to assuming the Director position, Rolf served as a senior fellow at the Center and served over three years as the Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to this, he served for 23 years as a CIA intelligence officer in various domestic and international posts, to include Chief of the Europe Division in the Directorate of Operations, Chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Department, Counterterrorist Center, and Deputy Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support. Prior to his career in intelligence, Mr. Mowatt-Larssen served as an officer in the U.S. Army. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He is married to Roswitha and has three children. He is a recipient of the CIA Director's Award, the George W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, the Secretary of Energy's Exceptional Service Medal, the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, Secretary of Defense Civilian Distinguished Service Medal, and the National Intelligence Superior Performance Medal, among others.
For more information on the Elbe Group: