Ask This General

Brigadier General Peter B. Zwack {Ret.}

“General Peter Zwack is a national treasure and a very prominent member of our country’s military and diplomatic corps, particularly his service recently as the senior U.S. defense official and Defense Attaché in Moscow during an especially challenging time historically between the U.S. and Russia, and Russia and Europe.”

Dr. Joshua Spero
Professor of International Politics at Fitchburg State University

Brigadier General Peter Zwack, USA (Ret.) spoke at a community forum at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI. The interview-style session featured a moderator asking General Zwack questions about Russia, the U.S. relationship with Russia and its neighbors, and troubling security developments in the region. The event drew a capacity audience to listen to General Zwack’s insights and first-hand experience dealing with Russia as America’s Senior Defense Attaché at the U.S. embassy in Moscow. His expertise, his comfort in engaging audiences, and his mastery of the specifics of the U.S.-Russia relationship made for a compelling and provocative evening.

Jim Ludes, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy

Brigadier General (Retired) Peter Zwack, former U.S. Defense Attaché to Russia, addressed an audience of senior students at the U.S. Naval War College on the current situation in Russia and Ukraine. His presentation included not only “facts on the ground”, but also insights concerning the decision making processes in the Kremlin. This informed commentary led to stimulating discussion on the future direction of this crisis. His experience in Moscow puts him in a position to offer “insider’s” knowledge on one of the world’s hottest topics.

Dr. Tom Fedyszyn
Navy War College

I hosted BG Zwack for two recent presentations on Russia, to the AFCEA Intelligence Committee and to the Army G-2 staff. With his extensive study and expertise as a Russian Foreign Area Officer and recent tenure as the US Defense Attaché in Moscow, his comments were timely and insightful. BG Zwack is indeed one of our nation’s foremost experts on Russia at this pivotal time, and he’s a superb, articulate speaker who connects with his audience.

Collin A. Agee
Senior Advisor for IC Engagement
Army G-2
Former Senior Civilian Strategic Planner, Joint Staff’s NATO Division, J5 Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate/worked alongside BG Zwack Zwack in those years from 1996-1999

G’day Sir, 

I am one the students on The Australian Defense Strategic Studies Course that you just presented to and I would thank you for an outstanding talk.  The conversation over lunch all revolved around your talk and regret that you had not been offered more time; preferably in two separate sessions. 

Not surprisingly given our geography, our course has been rather China centric to date and your talk provided a good balancing effect.  Being a submariner of over 20 years I have always had a healthy respect for Russian military might, particularly some of their latest submarines, and your talk provided me with some much needed strategic background to my tactical level knowledge.  It also gave me the required nudge to ensure I make the most of my ’sabbatical’ this year to read more widely. 

Once again Sir, many thanks for what for me was by far the best talk on the course to date

Kind Regards, 
Geoff Wadley 
Royal Australian Navy 

The presentation that General Zwack gave was absolutely amazing.  He left us a copy of his book, and my Global Leadership Club members are already creating a list of who gets to read it first!  My students were just buzzing about the entire event after he left.  What a great guy he is.

Thank you so much for allowing us to host General Zwack.

Kathleen Newell
Education Program Manager
World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

Fifty students at Germantown Academy were mesmerized in our round-table virtual discussion with Brigadier General Peter Zwack about the events currently unfolding in Ukraine. Zwack’s extensive experience in Russia and the greater region enabled him to speak passionately and eloquently about the roots of the current violence and to hypothesize thoughtfully about the role the US could and should play as well as possible end-games to the violence. Most impressively, Zwack handled each question fired at him with in-depth, individualized responses. His upbeat presence and extensive knowledge resulted in an outstanding experience for our budding historians and their teachers alike.

Rich Schellhas 1760
Head of School
Germantown Academy

POOL member BG Peter Zwack, US Army, ret, shared some very interesting first-hand insights about Russia today.  BG Zwack had been the USDAO in Moscow and a Fellow at NDU for Russian-Asia issues.  He travels extensively and frequently in Russia.

I cannot even begin to do justice to his presentation.  It was well-organized, full of graphics, and he was so frequently interrupted with questions that he had to jump all over the place to answer the many questions posed. As a result, BG Zwack will be returning for our 12 Feb meeting to finish his remarks on Russia.  It will be great timing because Dean will also be speaking about China at the same meeting.

Gen Zwack covered Russia’s history, geography, political leadership, value system, and many, many other factors that have shaped and will continue to shape Russia’s actions today.  BG Zwack walked through the situation in the Ukraine, along the China-Russia border, and Russia west of the Urals.  My conclusion:  The Russians may not have a great hand of cards, but they are playing them well.

I encourage all who can to attend the Tuesday, 12 Feb, session.  Between BG Zwack and Dean, it should be a tour d’ force of our two major potential adversaries.

On behalf of all the members of the POOL, I’d like to extend a sincere thanks to Darryl and BG Zwack for their informative and stimulating presentations.

BG(ret) Zwack:

Thank you so much for graciously bestowing your time and attention on the analysts, tacticians, and strategists collocated in the vicinity of Fort Meade, Maryland. I couldn’t have asked for a better individual to serve alongside, given the demanding schedule of events crammed into one day. Kudos to Dan Goldberg for his expert accompaniment, which I hope facilitated your comfort level throughout the day.

  In addition to the presentation within the Friedman Conference Center and the Generation-to-Generation dinner, you also met with X31/Eurasia and the Western Hemisphere (EWH) leadership and had an impromptu lunch with two of your former students from the Eisenhower School. I hope you derived as much benefit from interacting with the over 400 personnel–both in the locality as well as the out posts–as we had interacting with you.

  As we discussed, attached please find a recreation of the PowerPoint slide I had generated, which served as the marquee outside the Friedman Conference Center this afternoon.

Cheers, take care and God Bless, Sir.

BG Zwack that was fantastic today. The boys raved about being able to speak with you. The connections you made with them were authentic and appreciated by all of us. Thank you again, hopefully, you can stop by when you’re in the neighborhood next. 

All the best
Will Tuttle
The Fessenden School
Upper School History
9th Grade Dean

BG Zwack and Dean-

Outstanding X 2!

Thank you both for your presentations today on Russia and China.  In each case, your expertise and ability to communicate comprehensive pictures of your respective countries in clear and concise terms was incredible.

I’m sure based on the number of questions asked and the fact that you each were corralled more mone-on-one discussions following the meeting, let you know that you both scored big time with the group.

I’m amazed that you were able to convey everything in such a balanced, context way in such a relatively short period of time.  It’s clear that you each made an impression, and I’m sure you heard how many folks said they could “listen all day” to your remarks.

On behalf of xxxxxxx, please accept our sincere gratitude for making us much smarter on two countries that are extremely important to our national security planning and activities as we move forward.  I personally found the similarities and differences that you pointed out very valuable and appreciated your reinforcement that the challenges posed by each country to the US aren’t in a “one size fits all” category.  You also gave many useful insights on the domestic and international issues that they each have to confront–nothing is easy.

Again, thanks, and don’t be surprised if we ask for encore performances in the future.  Best of luck on your research, analysis, and presentations to your diverse audiences in the future.



I am planning the schedule for our next National Security Course.  I was hoping to align the schedule to utilize your tremendous expertise.  Last time we had you, there were a number of great responses to your brief. 

If you are able to support, I have several times available on 12 April, 15 April and 16 April that I can offer.

Please let me know if you can support.

Thanks again!
V/R Woody
CDR James “Woody” Griffin
Director National Security Course Navy Operational Support Officer
National Defense University Lincoln Hall, RM 2326


Dear Peter,

Thank you so much for your wonderful contribution to our symposium on Navigating the Nuclear Future.  I found your remarks really thought provoking and appreciated your lively style and use of popular culture to illuminate the history of US-Russian nuclear competition.  If you lived in the area, I’d try to get you in the classroom more often!  

Thanks for making the trek down to DC – and I’ll coordinate with Mark to get him the copy of the INSS study you gave me.  

with thanks and best regards,

Director, International Security Program
Director, Center for Security Policy Studies
Schar School of Policy and GovernmentGeorge Mason University



Thanks very much for your excellent lectures to my class!  You presented a firehose of material, but the widespread student agreement was that more is better because it provided context and detail that was highly valuable.  After you left, we discussed Russia and its approach/theory, but then we asked the students to think about the similarities/dissimilarities between Russia and China.  That conversation became very interesting.

Larry P. Goodson, Ph.D.
Professor of Middle East Studies
General Dwight D. Eisenhower Chair of National Security (2004-2007, 2014-2017)
U.S. Army War College


Dear Peter,

You haven’t heard from me because I have been so busy answering letters saying how superb your talk was.  Our Club is abuzz with appreciation.  Your presentation and you – were original, energizing, personal, insightful, essential.  This is called magic.  If there were room, I would copy each letter, but once again may brevity – I’ll try – be the soul of wit.  

For example, here is a letter that captures the gist (actually from a French friend, so you can hear some of that in the translation…)

I have never seen the Club being so fascinating, joyful, relaxed and welcoming than last night.

General Zwack was at the same time deeply informative and entertaining. He is an actor like Zelensky. And the very personal photos he shared took us on a journey through a past that we knew through official news but had never seen this close and intimately.

The dinner was so much fun, and I think that everyone felt that it was a moment of joy to cherish in a world where navigating troubled waters is the new normal once again. Except that we were not born last time it happened…

And then kindness in visiting every table.  A brilliant stroke.  My only fear – the poor next person who has to follow in your footsteps!  You have set a high, high bar, Peter.

I do believe learning is an act of community – conversation is key component.  

Last night it all flowed and oh my goodness, what a joy.  As Jacques Barzun put it:  “The first achievement of human society and its rarest pleasure is Conversation.  I totally agree. 

Will leave it there for now, except to extend on behalf of the International Committee, the Club, all of our audience members great and ongoing thanks.

As I began, this brings thanks – beyond words.

Ever gratefully,

Chair, International Committee of Private Club 250 attendees


General Zwack, 

We all truly appreciated your knowledge, presentation, and enthusiasm for your topic.  I can’t think of any event over the last 4 or 5 years where I’ve received more positive feedback!  It truly exceeded our expectations and was a wonderful start to the relationship we’d love to build with Keenan, and to a new friendship as well!

Here are links to both radio interviews along with your presentation to our Council.  We experienced a little bit of an issue with the mic, but it was limited to only about 5% of the overall presentation.  It was our first full event with a live stream, so lots of improvements we’ll be making!  If either of you would prefer it in the file version, we can get that over to you as well. 

World Affairs Council Youtube Page
Interview by Paul Roberts of OC Talk Radio  
Interview by Ed Steinfeld of KXFM, Laguna Beach 

We should have photos from the event over to you by early next week.

Joe:  Thank you for all of your efforts in helping us to pull this event together with short notice.  Your turnaround time with everything was a great help and our members and guests loved General Zwack’s affability and genuine willingness to engage with everyone throughout the evening.  It was quite a treat!  It’s not common to hear our most sophisticated guests appreciate the level of depth and specificity he provided, while those new to the topic express how “easy he was to follow.”  That’s a rare skill set!

Thank you again to both of you and I look forward to our continued collaboration on multiple levels!


Jeff Hobert
World Affairs Council of Orange County