The Foreign Service Journal - September 2014 - page 60

60
SEPTEMBER 2014
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
AFSA NEWS
A Call for a More Strategic Approach to South Asia
AFSA CONSTRUCT I VE D I SSENT AWARDS : THE WI L L I AM R . R I VK I N AWARD
FOR A MID-LEVEL FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER
The years David Holmes
spent in Afghanistan (2007-
2008) and India (2008-
2010) convinced him of the
need for “a more strategic
approach to our policies in
South Asia.”
On his return to Wash-
ington, Holmes served as
special assistant for South
and Central Asia to then-
Under Secretary of State for
Political Affairs Bill Burns
(2010-2011), and was later
detailed to the National
Security Council staff at the
White House as director for
Afghanistan (2011-2012).
Through this experience
Holmes came to believe
that the division of author-
ity between the Office of the
Special Representative for
Afghanistan and Pakistan
and the Bureau of Central
and South Asian Affairs
“hindered our diplomatic
effectiveness” and deprived
policymakers of coordinated
strategic advice. For speak-
ing out on this issue, Holmes
received the 2014 William R.
Rivkin Award for constructive
dissent by a mid-level FSO.
“In the non-business-
as-usual approach of the
office of the SRAP,” his award
nomination states, “David
Holmes was both a dedicated
team player in shaping our
policies, as well as a coura-
geous advocate for doing so
in a more coordinated and
strategic way.”
He urged colleagues to
reconcile differences rather
than pursue conflicting prior-
ities, and to take into account
all the pieces of the South
only a singular honor for me,
but also a validation of the
tremendous mentors with
whom I have been fortunate
to work. They not only gave
me these opportunities in the
first place, but also continu-
ally encouraged my efforts to
make a constructive contri-
bution to our policy in this
critical region in spite of the
obstacles.”
David Holmes joined the
Foreign Service in 2002.
He has served in Kosovo,
Bogota, Kabul and New Delhi,
and is currently the senior
energy officer in Moscow. He
is married to FSO Stephanie
Holmes, and they have a son
and a daughter.
n
Holmes, then National Security Council staff director for Afghanistan, with President Barack Obama at the White
House.
AFSA/JOAQUINSOSA
THE..WHITEHOUSE
Asian puzzle. Ultimately, he
submitted a formal Dissent
Channel message in February
2013 on “organizing to suc-
ceed in South Asia.”
As Holmes notes: “My
efforts over this period, and
then my formal dissent, were
intended to give a voice to an
important perspective that I
felt lacked an advocate.”
The Dissent Channel mes-
sage was well received, and it
provided State Department
leadership an opportunity to
reassess the department’s
approach to this complex
and critical region.
In acknowledging the
award, Holmes saluted his
mentors: “The award is not
David Holmes at the June 18
awards ceremony.
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