The State Department’s top official for Pakistan and Afghanistan was dismissed from her post, as U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is preparing to deploy up to 5,000 troops to the region.
The State Department announced that Laurel Miller, the acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, left her post on Friday, reports the Washington Examiner.
Multiple reports suggest the latest shakeup is part of an effort to consolidate some department offices. However, it was later revealed by State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert that Miller’s replacement had not been named prior to her leaving and that she planned to return to a position at the Rand Corporation.
While Nauert did not officially state that Miller won’t be replaced, Secretary Rex Tillerson had reportedly indicated that he wanted to reduce the number of special envoys.
Her sudden departure has certainly sparked confusion both inside and outside the State Department about the future of the section known as the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has been reported that the former special representative’s responsibilities may instead fall under the department’s South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau.
In her statement, Nauert said the State Department will “maintain the Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs Offices, which currently report to the Office of the Special Representative, to address policy concerns and our bilateral relationship with these two key countries. The secretary has not made a decision about the future of the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Miller’s “special representative” post was created by former President Barack Obama in 2009. It has been criticized as redundant since the State Department also has a Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.
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