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ADST Foreign Affairs Oral History Project: Kenneth Smith
July 26, 2021
5:39 pm
Tish Butler
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Forum Posts: 93
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On December 7, 2020, this Foreign Affairs Oral History Program interview with Ken Smith was conducted under the auspices of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) by David Reuther. During this extended interview, the details of Ken’s military and diplomatic services were solicited and are now included in the “Diplomatic Oral History of the United States” (DOH) — part of the Library of Congress ‘American Memory Archives.’ Like others of its ilk, the interview covered his background, education, and several activities of national & international historic significance in which he was directly involved.

In his own words: ” I have just had the rare privilege of being one of the very few USAID-ers included in the U.S. State Department’s “HALL OF FAME.” Well, Not Exactly! But seriously, during an extended interview in December 2020, details of my service were solicited and are now included in the “Diplomatic Oral History of the United States” (DOH) — part of the Library of Congress ‘American Memory Archives.’ Like others of its ilk, the interview covered my background, education, and several activities of national & international historic significance in which I was directly involved. [As a first generation American and my family’s ‘Founding Father,’ having my contribution to my adopted country officially preserved for posterity is particularly poignant.]

My around-the-world odyssey with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Development Administration to further and foster U.S. Foreign Aid Policies focused on applying Program & Project Management ‘Best Practices’ and innovations to infrastructure, economic, and social development projects — as well as intermittent disaster relief activities — in many countries; despite often-deficient organizational environments. Subsequent consulting – also in project management — was with the World Bank Group, African and Asian Development Banks, and the UN; as well as with USAID. My interview is replete with anecdotes (humorous in retrospect) – such as the Vietnamese Rat Tail Project (p 42); the Indonesian Well & Toilet Project (p 103); the Papua New Guinea Highway Project (p 131) and Ethiopian University Project (p 145) — illustrating several key issues and ‘Lessons Learned’ therefrom.

The highlights of my 38-year military career from basic airman to ‘bird’ colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve — often concomitantly entwined with my foreign service career – were also covered, including Vietnam service, POW Repatriation [Project Homecoming] (p. 64), and VN Evacuation (p. 71); as well as 20 more post-retirement years as an Air Force Academy/ROTC Admissions Liaison Officer (ALO) and Congressional Service Academy Advisory Board (SAAB) member.”

To read his fascinating story, type this URL into a search bar: https://www.usaidalumni.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/ADST-SrFSO-Smith.-Kenneth.pdf.

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