Dr. S. Ken Yamashita, who served for 23 years as a Foreign Service Officer with United States Agency for International Development, will discuss the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy during a presentation to the Alabama World Affairs Council on Feb. 28.
The presentation, “Fix the Plumbing: How to Operationalize President Biden’s Indo-Pacific Strategy,” will be held in the Gold Room on the second floor of Whitley Hall at Troy University’s Montgomery Campus. The event will begin with a 5:30 p.m. reception, followed by the presentation, which will also be available via Zoom. The event, which will be moderated by ALWAC President Maj. Gen. Walter Givhan (USAF, ret.), is free for World Affairs Council members and $20 for guests. Registration is available online at https://alwac.org/events.
During a speech in December 2021, Secretary of State Tony Blinken outlined the administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy in a speech in Jakarta Indonesia. Five core elements of the strategy were laid out: a free and open Indo Pacific, strong regional alliances such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a more prosperous region, a more resilient region and a more secure region.
During his 23 years of service to USAID, Dr. Yamashita rose to the agency’s highest rank of Career Minister, serving in multiple countries including Ecuador, South Africa, Peru, Kosovo, Colombia and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Dr. Yamashita was the first Country Mission Director for USAID since the Agency’s re-engagement in 2002 to serve two consecutive years. He oversaw the surge in development personnel from 250 to 500 and AID’s largest program budget of over $2 billion.
His pioneering Women’s Empowerment Program was the largest of its kind in USAID worldwide. Dr. Yamashita coordinated policy and operations across 13 agencies, and offices operating in Afghanistan. He was the principal point of contact for NATO and U.S. Military Assistance to Afghanistan and routinely represented the U.S. to the Government of Afghanistan as well as to other bilateral governments and international agencies.
Immediately prior to Dr. Yamashita’s retirement, he served as White House Appointee to the Peace Corps as the Director for Global Operations, responsible for operations in over 80 countries where Peace Corps Volunteers are deployed.
In 2022, he returned to USAID from retirement to serve as interim Counselor for the Agency, the most senior foreign service officer.
Dr. Yamashita has been recognized with awards from host country governments as well as from the U.S. Government, including the Presidential Rank Meritorious Honor Award in 2008 and the Outstanding Career Achievement Award in 2016.
The Alabama World Affairs Council is a nonprofit organization that sponsors lectures and programs on current and recent events of national and international interest. Through these programs, which take place at Troy University’s Montgomery Campus, the Alabama World Affairs Council aims to promote public awareness and understanding of international affairs as they relate to U.S. interests in the context of political, economic, cultural, historical, and military issues.