Karl W. Eikenberry was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan by the Senate on April 3, 2009 and sworn in on April 29, 2009. Prior to this assignment, Mr. Eikenberry served as the Deputy Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium. He retired from the U.S. military with the rank of Lieutenant General on April 28, 2009.
His military operational posts included service as commander and staff officer with mechanized, light, airborne, and ranger infantry units in the continental United States, Hawaii, Korea, and Italy.
He has served in various strategy, policy, and political-military positions, including Director for Strategic Planning and Policy for U.S. Pacific Command; U.S. Security Coordinator and Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation in Kabul, Afghanistan; Assistant Army and later Defense Attaché at the United States 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.
He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, has master’s degrees from Harvard University in East Asian Studies and Stanford University in Political Science, and was a National Security Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He earned an Interpreter’s Certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the British Foreign Commonwealth Office while studying at the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense Chinese Language School in Hong Kong and he has an Advanced Degree in Chinese History from Nanjing University in the People’s Republic of China.
His military awards and decorations 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 has received the Department of State Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, Director of Central Intelligence Award, Canadian Meritorious Service Cross, Czech Republic Meritorious Cross, Hungarian Alliance Medal, French Legion of Honor, and Afghanistan’s Ghazi Amir Amanullah Khan and Akbar Khan Medals.
He has published numerous articles on U.S. military training, tactics, and strategy, on Chinese ancient military history, and on Asia-Pacific security issues. He was previously the president of the Foreign Area Officers Association and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He has a commercial pilot’s license and instrument rating, and also enjoys sailing and scuba diving.