Frank Ruggiero, a career civil servant who served under late United States diplomat Richard Holbrooke, has been made the acting US special representative to the Af-Pak region and will be assisted by two deputies, one of them is an Indian-American Vikram Singh.
Singh was a fellow at the Center for a New American Security until February 2009. He worked on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Asia Initiative '09, and a range of CNAS defence strategy and planning projects.
Prior to joining CNAS, Singh worked in the office of the assistant secretary of defence for global security affairs, where he was responsible for strategic initiatives to improve the US military's work with partner nations including the policy oversight and management of a joint department of defence and department of state programme to train and equip foreign military forces around the world.
Between 2003 and 2007, Singh's work at the deparment of defence spanned a broad range of defence policy issues, including integrating US stability operations, counter-insurgency and irregular warfare capabilities; disaster response and humanitarian assistance; oversight of peacekeeping missions for the joint staff military staff committee at the US Mission to the United Nations; analysis of the defence deparment's acquisition programmes and the South Asia policy.
Prior to joining government as a presidential management fellow, Singh managed a five-country Ford Foundation project on minority rights and security in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka for the International Centre for Ethnic Studies in Colombo. He was also a reporter for the Voice of America in Sri Lanka and South Africa.
Announcing the elevation of Ruggiero, who was Holbrooke's deputy, US state department spokesman P J Crowley said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has retained the same team, which the late special envoy created for his Afghanistan and Pakistan agenda.
Ruggiero, Holbrooke's key aide, has been moved up to be the acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said. "He will lead the SRAP structure that Richard Holbrooke constructed, and will really serve as one of his finest legacies, assisted by two deputies -- Dan Feldman and Vikram Singh," he said.
"The SRAP structure that will continue on in Holbrooke's absence combines individuals and experts from across government. It incorporates international partners into this structure. It is expressly the kind of organisation that he felt was absent in Vietnam and for which he has built a crack team that will continue the policies that the administration pursues within the context of Afghanistan and Pakistan," Crowley said.
Ruggiero joined Clinton at a National Security Council meeting on Tuesday at the White House that focused on the annual review of Afghanistan policy, Crowley said. "He has assumed the acting SREP responsibility," Crowley said after Holbrooke died on Monday from complications from a torn aorta. Ruggiero became Holbrooke's deputy in July 2010 after serving as the senior US civilian representative for southern Afghanistan. He served as acting assistant secretary for political-military affairs from January to June 2009.
Image: Vikram Singh