Top USAID Afghan official Alex Thier leaving

Alex Thier, the Afghanistan czar at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is leaving his post at the end of next week. Thier, assistant to the administrator for the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, is moving on up to head the agency’s Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning, "where he will apply his ...

Alex Thier, the Afghanistan czar at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is leaving his post at the end of next week.

Thier, assistant to the administrator for the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, is moving on up to head the agency's Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning, "where he will apply his expertise and leadership with Afghanistan and Pakistan more broadly across the agency," USAID spokesman Ben Edwards said.

Thier, in statement provided to the E-Ring, said, "I'm eager to take on the challenge of pushing forward the innovative and ambitious reforms the Administrator Rajiv Shah has enacted in order to increase USAID's development impact around the world. "These include partnering with local organizations to increase the long term sustainability of USAID programs as we have already been doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Alex Thier, the Afghanistan czar at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is leaving his post at the end of next week.

Thier, assistant to the administrator for the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, is moving on up to head the agency’s Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning, "where he will apply his expertise and leadership with Afghanistan and Pakistan more broadly across the agency," USAID spokesman Ben Edwards said.

Thier, in statement provided to the E-Ring, said, "I’m eager to take on the challenge of pushing forward the innovative and ambitious reforms the Administrator Rajiv Shah has enacted in order to increase USAID’s development impact around the world. "These include partnering with local organizations to increase the long term sustainability of USAID programs as we have already been doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Thier’s deputy Larry Sampler, senior deputy assistant to the Administrator in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, will take over as "acting" boss.

Thier is one of the most well known names on Afghanistan in Washington, having lived there for about seven years and previously directed the Af-Pak program at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP).

His Twitter handle is even @Thierstan. Anyone who has sat with him has felt his passion for Afghanistan, and the progress one of the poorest countries in the world has made. For him, it’s a far different narrative from the "progress" usually assigned to the war, instead of the country or its people.

In an email, Thier explained:

"Afghanistan and Pakistan have made enormous progress in the last few years, despite the continued challenges they face. As I transition to this new position at USAID, I am heartened by the remarkable transitions occurring in both countries. I lived through the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s, and the results of our investments in partnership with the Afghan people since the fall of the Taliban have yielded enormous results by any objective indicator. Life expectancy up by 15-20 years, average incomes tripled, government revenues grown 1000% in over a decade. This came from a partnership with the Afghan people that focuses heavily on accountability and sustainability – helping the Afghans transition to a more self-sufficient and secure future. 

In Pakistan, the historic elections this week have moved that country further along a path of democracy and good governance that they will need to solve their significant economic, energy, and security challenges. We reframed our efforts in Pakistan to leverage our resources through partnerships with the government and private sector – like a program with Nestlé that is linking poor women dairy farmers with agribusiness. In both countries, we have also dramatically increased our investment and focus on women – as no country can succeed without half it’s population fully engaged in the economic, social, and political life of the nation."

 

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

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