Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller announced to his staff last Friday that Vikram Singh is the new deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia (SSEA).
"Vikram will be responsible for overseeing the development of policy for South and Southeast Asia, to include key relationships with Allies such as Australia, Thailand, Philippines and strategic partners such as India and Singapore," Miller wrote in the note, obtained by The Cable. "Vikram will play a critical role in leading defense engagement with multilateral institutions in the Asia-Pacific region."
Singh is already hitting the ground running. This week he is leading the U.S. delegation to the ASEAN defense senior officials meeting (ADSOM+) in Cambodia.
Since October 2011, Singh served in the Pentagon policy shop as a senior advisor for Asian and Pacific security affairs, where he led an internal review on the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Prior to that, he had been detailed from the Pentagon to the State Department as a deputy special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, serving under ambassadors Richard Holbrooke and Marc Grossman. Brig. Gen. Rich Simcock, who had been the acting DASD for SSEA since Bob Scher moved over to be DASD for Plans, will return to his role as principal director for SSEA, now under Singh.
Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, Singh was a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, the think tank founded by former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell. His other jobs have included a stint managing a Ford Foundation project on South Asian minority rights at International Center for Ethnic Studies in Colombo and as a reporter in Sri Lanka and South Africa for Voice of America.
The Singh appointment fills one of the many vacancies atop the Pentagon's Asia policy shop. The office is still led by Peter Lavoy, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense (PDAS) for Asian and Pacific affairs, while the confirmation of Mark Lippert to be assistant secretary remains held up by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) over the issue of F-16 sales to Taiwan. We're told by Hill sources that the White House has finally reached out to Cornyn to negotiate over the hold, but that the administration's initial offer of sending a mid-level Air Force official to Taiwan for a short visit fell far short of what Cornyn wanted.
There's also still no DASD for East Asia, following Michael Schiffer's move to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Principal Director Dave Helvey is the acting in that capacity.
"I am very pleased to have Vikram on the policy team as the deputy assistant secretary for South and Southeast Asia. He brings a wealth of Asia policy experience -- both in and out of government -- to this position," Miller said in a statement to The Cable.
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.