Ambassador to Pakistan: Who Is Richard Olson?

Sunday, July 29, 2012
In the wake of the resignation of career diplomat Cameron Munter, who was a casualty of Pakistani anger over civilian deaths and U.S. covert actions there, President Obama on July 17 nominated career diplomat Richard Olson, who served as Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs at the Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, from June 2011 to June 2012, to take over the embassy in Islamabad.
Born circa 1959, Olson earned an AB in Law & Society and History at Brown University in 1981. Joining the Foreign Service in 1982, Olson served early career assignments in Mexico, Uganda, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia (as the embassy’s liaison officer to General Norman Schwarzkopf during the 1991 Gulf War) and Ethiopia. Olson served in the United Arab Emirates, both at the embassy in Abu Dhabi from 1999 to 2001 and as U.S. consul general in Dubai from 2001 to 2003.
In the aftermath of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Olson volunteered to work with the Coalition Provisional Authority as governorate coordinator for the province of Najaf in Southern Iraq. Olson served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, from 2006 to 2008, followed by service as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2008 to 2011, which was his first ambassadorship.
Olson’s Washington assignments include service at the State Department Operations Center (twice), on the NATO Desk, at the Office of Israel and Palestine Affairs (twice, including as director), and at the Office of Iraqi Affairs, including as director.
Olson and wife Deborah Jones (a Foreign Service Officer who served as Ambassador to Kuwait from 2008 to 2011) have two daughters. In his spare time, Olson is an avid cyclist, and competed in the March 2011 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon (sprint).
-Matt Bewig

Obama Names New Afghan, Pakistan Envoys (, Pakistan) 


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