The Foreign Service Journal, July/August 2018

70 JULY-AUGUST 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL William Hammink is a recently retired Career Min- ister in the Senior Foreign Service who has 36 years of experience working with USAID, including as mission director in Afghanistan, India, Sudan and Ethiopia, and assistant to the administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan. This article is based on a lengthy study by the author, “USAID in Afghanistan: Challenges and Successes,” published by the U.S. Institute for Peace in December 2017 and available at A retired Senior FSO presents lessons from the largest USAID program since Vietnam, a 17-year engagement that has pushed the agency’s capacity to the hilt. BY WI L L I AM HAMM I NK I t was November 2013. Our chopper, carrying U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, flew low and fast over the rooftops of Kabul on our way to the American University of Afghanistan. Launched with a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Devel- opment in 2005, AUAF opened its doors to students in 2006. A private, accredited Afghan institution, the university is still dependent on USAID and State funding. Rice spent several hours there hearing from Afghan students, especially young women, about their hopes and plans, both for themselves and their families, and for Afghanistan. Less than three years later, in August 2016, the university was under siege. Two expatriate professors, one American and one Australian, were seized by the Haqqani network, an insurgent Afghan guerrilla group currently based in Pakistan; days later, terrorists attacked the university with a car bomb and gunmen, killing 17—including seven students—and injuring more than 50. The university closed, temporarily. The professors are still, as of this writing, being held hostage. However, in March 2017 USAID in Afghanistan: What Have We Learned? FEATURE