Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry directs the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative and is the Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow at Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. He is affiliated with the Center for International Security Cooperation, the Europe Center, and the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.
As ambassador to Afghanistan from May 2009 to July 2011, Eikenberry led the civilian surge directed by President Obama to reverse insurgent momentum and set the conditions for transition to full Afghan sovereignty. Before appointment as chief of mission in Kabul, he had a 35-year career in the U.S. Army, retiring with the rank of lieutenant general. His military operational posts included commander and staff officer with mechanized, light, airborne and ranger infantry units in the continental U.S., Hawaii, Korea, Italy and Afghanistan as the commander of the American-led coalition forces from 2005 to 2007.
Eikenberry has served in various policy and political-military positions, including deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium; director for strategic planning and policy for the U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, Hawaii; U.S. security coordinator and chief of the Office of Military Cooperation in Kabul, Afghanistan; Assistant Army and later defense attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China; senior country director for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and deputy director for Strategy, Plans and Policy on the Army Staff.
Eikenberry is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. He earned master’s degrees from Harvard University in East Asian studies and from Stanford University in political science, and was a national security fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He earned a British Foreign and Commonwealth Office interpreter’s certificate in Mandarin Chinese and an advanced degree in Chinese history from Nanjing University.
His military awards include the Defense Distinguished and Superior Service Medals, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Ranger Tab, Combat and Expert Infantryman badges, and master parachutist wings. He received many honors for his service from U.S. government agencies, along with the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross, French Legion of Honor, Afghanistan’s Ghazi Amir Amanullah Khan and Akbar Khan Medals, and the NATO Meritorious Service Medal.
Eikenberry is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His writing on U.S. and international security issues has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Washington Quarterly, The American Interest, the New York Times and the Washington Post.