S. Ken Yamashita, PhD, "Fix the Plumbing: How to operationalize President Biden’s Indo-Pacific Strategy"
Moderator: Maj. Gen. Walter Givhan, (Ret.), ALWAC President.
Dr. S. Ken Yamashita, Counselor, US Agency for International Development (retd).
February 28, 2023
On December 14, 2021, Secretary of State Tony Blinken laid out the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy in a speech in Jakarta, Indonesia. Five core elements were laid out:
1. A Free and Open Indo Pacific
2. Strong Regional Alliances such as ASEAN
3. A more prosperous region.
4. A more resilient region – especially with regards to pandemics and climate change.
5. A more secure region.
What is the reasoning behind this strategy, and to what extent will this strategy counter China’s increased expansion in the region, and beyond?
What will it take for the U.S. Government to operationalize this strategy?
In January 2022 Dr. Yamashita returned to USAID from retirement, to serve as interim Counselor for the Agency, the most senior foreign service officer of the Agency.
Dr. Yamashita had served for 23 years as a Foreign Service Officer with USAID, attaining the highest rank of Career Minister. He served 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 US 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 country operations in over 80 countries where Peace Corps Volunteers are deployed.
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.