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Kevin Ryan

Mailing address

Belfer 301
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA, 02138

Kevin Ryan

Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Member, The US-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

Board Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Contact:
Telephone: 617-495-7747
Fax: 617-495-8963
Email: kevin_ryan@hks.harvard.edu

 

Experience

Brigadier General Kevin Ryan (U.S. Army retired) is Director, Defense and Intelligence Projects at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

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.  He is a member of the Kennedy School’s MPA Admissions Committee.  Ryan was the founding director of the center's U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, where he continues to facilitate U.S.-Russian cooperation and lead the “Elbe Group.”  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. He and his wife Kathryn have five children.

In November 2013, Ryan was appointed as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, in the State of Massachusetts.

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.

 

 

By Date

 

2016

October 2016

The Culture of Strategic Thought Behind Russia’s Modern Approaches to Warfare

Paper

By Stephen R. Covington and Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

In September of 1991, I met with Russian general officers in Minsk at a military reform seminar. Our discussions took place against the backdrop of the August coup attempt in Moscow, the subsequent collapse of Soviet power, and the so-called parade of sovereignty by former Soviet Republics. At the same time, President Yeltsin was signaling his intent to change dramatically the national security strategy, military doctrine, and military system the Soviet Union had developed since the 1940s.

 

 

(Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

June 7, 2016

"Midnight in Moscow"

Paper

By Torrey Taussig and Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

A quarter-century after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, authoritarianism is staging a comeback. Nowhere is this trend more evident than in Russia, where Putin is progressing from consolidating power within Russia’s borders to projecting power beyond them. In response, the world continues to watch and react.

Later this month, members of the European Union will decide whether to renew sanctions against Russia in response to Putin’s continued aggression in eastern Ukraine. In July, NATO will convene in Warsaw for its annual summit to determine the most effective steps to take in the face of an encroaching Russia. What is not likely to be discussed in these deliberations, however, are the political conditions within Russia that are influencing Putin's actions abroad.

 

 

(Photo by Paul Staub, 1945)

April 24, 2016

"The Story of the Elbe River Linkage You May Not Have Heard About"

Op-Ed, Russia Insider

By Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Brigadier General Kevin Ryan (US Army retired), director of the Defense and Intelligence Projects at the Belfer Center, participated in the opening of a memorial dedicated to the meeting of American and Soviet Armies at the river Elbe in 1945. The dedication took place in Moscow on Monday, April 25, 2016. In this article, General Ryan describes the background to the memorial.

 

2015

December 9, 2015

"The Meaning of Russia's Campaign in Syria"

Paper

By Stephen R. Covington and Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Stephen Covington explains the strategic and tactical reasons for Russia’s deployment to Syria and helps the reader see the world through the eyes of President Putin and his advisors. Together with his earlier paper, “Putin’s Choice for Russia,” published with the Belfer Center in August 2015, this paper provides the reader with the strategic threads that run through contemporary Russian geopolitics. His insights into Russian strategic thinking are based on years of study and practical experience with the Russian military and, his opinion matters as a person who advises NATO’s senior military leaders on Alliance security anddefense matters.

(From Foreword by BG Kevin Ryan (U.S. Army retired), Director, Defense and Intelligence Projects)

 

 

(Haberturk TV via AP)

November 30, 2015

"Turkish Shootdown Shows Importance of NATO-Russia Dialogue"

Op-Ed, Moscow Times

By Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Fighter aircraft from NATO member Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 military plane along the Turkish-Syrian border on Nov. 24. One of the pilots, Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkow, was killed as a result. Not since a Soviet sentry shot U.S. Army Major Arthur Nicholson in 1985, has there been a shooting death between the forces of Russia and members of NATO.

 

 

(AP Photo)

November 25, 2015

"NATO and Russia Must Reopen Contact to Keep the “Cold War” Cold"

Op-Ed

By Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

On November 24th, 2015, fighter aircraft from Turkey, a NATO state, shot down a Russian Su24 fighter along the Turkish-Syrian border.  A local Syrian rebel group claimed to have found one of the pilots dead.  Not since a Soviet sentry shot US Army Major Arthur Nicholson in 1985, has there been a shooting death between the forces of Russia and members of NATO.....

Even if it is not possible to reconcile the two sides politically and diplomatically, it is vital that a military dialogue reopen now to provide national leaders with a means to deconflict and resolve security issues without resorting to force.  NATO and Russia should reopen military-to-military contacts to provide transparency over capabilities and intentions – the two components of a threat.  This kind of dialogue was able to keep the Cold War “cold” and is needed again.

 

 

August 2015

Putin's Choice for Russia

Report

By Stephen R. Covington and Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

This paper was written by Stephen R. Covington, with a Foreword written by Kevin Ryan.

In Putin’s view, any solution short of changing the European security system—including full integration, separation by erecting new walls, freezing the status quo around Russia, or partnering with other countries to counter-balance the powers in the European system—only means Russia’s inevitable loss of great power status and the loss of his personal power at home.

 

 

(AP Photo)

June 8, 2015

"Future Is Bleak for U.S.-Russian Relationship"

Op-Ed, Moscow Times

By Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

On June 5, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met with U.S. diplomatic and military leaders in Stuttgart, Germany to review America's response to Russian aggression in Crimea and Ukraine. His review of strategy follows a May 12 meeting by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. After this visit, Kevin Ryan asks, "is the U.S.-Russian relationship set to improve or get worse?"

 

 

April 23, 2015

"The Real Lessons from the Meeting on the Elbe"

Presentation

By Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

In celebration of the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany and on the eve of the anniversary of the meeting of Soviet and American troops on the Elbe, the Carnegie Moscow Center organized a conference held April 23, 2015 in Moscow to discuss the experience of Russian-American alliance during the Second World War, as well as the experience of cooperation and rivalry after the end of the Cold War. The Elbe meeting took place on April 25, 1945.

Brigadier General (ret.) Kevin Ryan, director of the Belfer Center's Defense and Intelligence Projects and founder of The Elbe Group, spoke at the conference in Russian about the significance of the Elbe anniversary to U.S.-Russian relations today. His Russian remarks and English translation are available.

 

2014

Wikimedia Commons

November 14, 2014

"Danger of Russian Aggression Outweighs Nuclear Danger"

Op-Ed, The New York Times

By Kevin Ryan, Director, Defense and Intelligence Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Until Russia removes its troops from eastern Ukraine and ceases its military support to pro-Russian separatists there, the United States should suspend any discussion on future arms reductions or cooperation on securing Russian nuclear materials and weapons.

 
Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.