Kurt Amend, the former senior advisor for security negotiations and agreements at the State Department's Political Military Affairs Bureau (PM), has begun his new job as the new top deputy to PM's Assistant Secretary Andrew Shapiro.
Over the past year, Amend has been a key player on issues such as negotiations involving the Northern Distribution Network designed to move military supplies to Afghanistan, and the discussions over Japanese payments for American military forces based there.
In his new role, Amend, whose official title will be principal deputy assistant secretary of state, will run the PM shop when Shapiro is out of town and will also have several offices within the bureau report directly to him, including the offices of congressional and public affairs (PM/CPA), security negotiations and agreements (PM/SNA), the coordinator for the foreign policy advisors program (PM/POLAD), and the coordinator for counter-piracy and maritime security (PM/CPMS).
A career Foreign Service officer since 1988, Amend has served in India, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kosovo. From 2003 to 2006, he worked as country director for Afghanistan in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and then served as director for Afghanistan on the National Security Council. From 2007 to 2009, Amend was consul general at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, working for undersecretary Bill Burns.
Amend replaces Tom Countryman, who was tapped to move over to the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs led by Assistant Secretary Philip Gordon. Countryman is the new deputy assistant secretary covering the Balkans, a lateral move for him. He was chosen for the move through the personal request of Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg, who has a deep interest in the Balkans, after the original choice for the Balkans job, Cameron Munter, was stolen away to be the new U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.
"Steinberg really wanted somebody really experienced in the Balkans in that slot and he's the best the department has to offer," a State Department official said about Countryman, who has had several assignments in the Balkans over his career.
PM is looking for a replacement for Amend from the ranks of the Foreign Service over the next week or so, the official said. Amend started on Monday.
"He's got a tremendous pol-mil background," the official said about Amend. "I think he's going to be a really strong replacement for Tom."