Ambassador to Georgia: Who Is Richard Norland?

Sunday, March 25, 2012
The former Soviet republic of Georgia is to be sent a new ambassador who previously served there as a peacekeeping monitor during the Georgian Civil War of the 1990s. Richard B. Norland, who was nominated by President Obama on February 17, 2012, would be the seventh U.S. ambassador to Georgia since it became independent in 1991.
 
Norland comes of diplomatic stock. He was born in Rabat, Morocco, where his father, Donald R. Norland, was serving his first foreign posting, as a cultural affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy. Norland grew up in Africa and Europe, as well as the United States. He earned a B.S. at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1977, an M.A. in International Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies in 1992, and a Masters of National Security Strategy degree from the National War College in 2002. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1980, Norland worked as a legislative analyst in the Iowa House of Representatives.
 
After joining the Foreign Service, Norland’s first tour was at the American Embassy in Manama, Bahrain, from 1981 to 1982, followed by service at the United States’ northernmost diplomatic office, 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, as chief of the US Information Office in Tromsø, Norway, from 1986 to 1988. He then served as political officer at the embassy in Moscow, USSR, from 1988 to 1990, during President Gorbachev’s tenure and the period of glasnost and perestroika.
 
Norland served as a peacekeeping monitor in Georgia with the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1993, and visited Chechnya in a similar capacity in 1995. 
 
He was assigned as political counselor at the embassy in Dublin, Ireland, from 1995 to 1998, and as senior Arctic official coordinating the US chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 1998 to 1999. He also provided advice on the Northern Ireland peace process as director for European Affairs at the National Security Council from 1999 to 2001. He got caught up in the post 9/11 maelstrom when he was assigned to serve as political officer in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, from October 2002 to January 2003, working with the US Army to promote political and economic reconstruction in Afghanistan. This was followed by his posting as deputy chief of mission at the Embassy in Riga, Latvia, from 2003 to 2005. He returned to Afghanistan to serve as deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Kabul from 2005 to 2007.
 
Norland’s first ambassadorship was to another former Soviet republic, Uzbekistan, a U.S.-friendly dictatorship, where he served from September 2007 to July 2010. His diplomatic cables from the country, as released by WikiLeaks, are peppered with “Tashkent Tidbits” that include speculation about who will succeed Islam Karimov as the nation’s ruler. After leaving Uzbekistan, Norland became an international affairs advisor and deputy commandant at the National War College.
 
Norland speaks French, Russian, Norwegian and Latvian. He and his wife, Mary Hartnett, have a son, Daniel, and a daughter, Kate.
-Matt Bewig
 

Official Biography 

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