Select Page

South Asia Week at Harvard Kennedy School

As the spring fighting season in Afghanistan flares up again, following one of the most deadly Taliban attacks in Kabul in years on April 19, 2016 posing new challenges to the Afghan government and military, Ambassador Richard Olson discusses long-term plans for the wider region as part of the annual SOUTH ASIA WEEK.

Ambassador Richard Olson assumed duty as U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) on November 17, 2015 after concluding his service as the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan.

Previously, he served as the Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs, at U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan, from 2011 to 2012. U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2008 to 2011. He is a member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor, and was recently recommended for promotion to Career Minister.

Olson joined the U.S. Department of State in 1982. He has served in Mexico, Uganda, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates, (where he served in Abu Dhabi and Dubai), and in Najaf, Iraq. He was also Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

His Washington assignments include: State Department Operations Center (twice), NATO Desk, the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs (twice, including as Director), and the Office of Iraqi Affairs, including as Director. He graduated from Brown University in 1981, receiving an A.B. in Law and Society (Honors) and History.

Olson has been awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the Secretary of State’s Award for Public Outreach, the State Department’s Superior Honor Award (three times), and the Secretary of Defense’s Exceptional Civilian Service Award (for his service in Iraq).

Cosponsored with the Future of Diplomacy and India & South Asia Program, HKS