On a day when the most powerful people in Washington were discussing Afghanistan and Pakistan, there was one man who might be excused for looking a little shell-shocked.
Frank Ruggiero, who stepped in as acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) following the sudden death of his boss Richard Holbrooke on Monday, had little time to prepare for his first big outing as President Barack Obama’s pointman for the biggest foreign policy headache facing the administration.
Ruggiero spoke to the press after Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates formally unveiled their official review of the year-old Afghan strategy, which said enough progress was being made to begin withdrawing U.S. troops in July despite fragile and uneven gains against the Taliban insurgents.
Clinton — accompanied by virtually Holbrooke’s entire office — joined Ruggiero at the press conference in an orchestrated display of continuity and solidarity.
“I have complete confidence in this SRAP team,” Clinton said, adding that Ruggiero had hit the ground running as he took over the duties of the office.