Strategic Inflection Points: Serving On The Border Of Freedom From The Cold War To NATO In The 21st Century

Douglas Lute


Ambassador Doug Lute entered West Point in 1971, at the height of the Vietnamization of the war in Southeast-Asia. That war shaped his experiences at West Point, but upon graduating in 1975, he served on the front lines of the Cold War in Germany with the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment. In 1981, he attended Harvard’s Kennedy School in preparation for returning to teach in the Department of Social Sciences, where spent four semesters refining SS307, the core course in “Sosh.” After teaching at West Point, he returned to a completely different dynamic in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening of the borders between the east and the west. He served as the Operations Officer for 2d Cavalry during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and by 1996 was a Senior Service College Fellow at the Atlantic Council. On September 11, 2001, he was the Executive Officer to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was flying to Europe for a NATO meeting as the events on that day unfolded. By October, 2001, he was the Assistant Division Commander (Support) for the 1st Infantry Division, before assuming command of Multinational Brigade (East) Task Force Falcon in Kosovo. In 2003, he served as the Deputy Director for Operations for U.S. European Command, playing a supporting role as CENTCOM prepared to invade Iraq. He then transitioned to CENTCOM and served as the Director of Operations. His next assignment was on the Joint Staff, working for General John Abizaid as his J3. In 2007, he started a six-year tour at the White House as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan. Following his retirement from the military, he served as the United States’ Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, how his father’s influence led him to West Point, and his Military Academy experiences. He describes his service as a Cavalryman, and as a General Officer. He compares the academic autonomy he experienced at Harvard to the operational freedom he was afforded in 2d Cavalry. He highlights his academic experiences and his time in the Department of Social Sciences. Finally, he explores his service in the higher levels of the Army and as a civil servant.


name Douglas Lute
institution USMA
graduation year 1975
service Armor
unit 1/2 Armored Cavalry Regiment; 1/7 Cavalry; 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment; 1st Infantry Division; EUCOM; CENTCOM
specialty Department of Social Sciences
service dates 1975 2010