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Roger D. Carstens

Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, U.S. Department of State


As the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA) at the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Roger D. Carstens leads and coordinates the U.S. government’s diplomatic efforts to secure the safe recovery of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad. Prior to assuming the role as SPEHA, Carstens was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, overseeing complex human rights issues in the Middle East and Central and South America as well as issues arising out of security and human rights, including child soldiering and security force vetting. Carstens has worked extensively with U.S. based-international nongovernmental organizations in Jordan and Somalia and served on the Commander’s Advisory and Assistance Team in Afghanistan. He was a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and Special Assistant for Legislative Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Carstens is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel who served in Special Forces and the 1st Ranger Battalion. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and holds master’s degrees from the U.S. Naval War College and St. John’s College. Carstens is the recipient of the 2023 Robert A. Levinson Excellence in Government Service Award, the St. John’s College Alumni Association’s Award of Merit, and was selected as a Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment.

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