Karl Eikenberry became the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan on 29 April 2009. He retired, on the previous day, from the United States Army with the rank of lieutenant general, having been the Deputy Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium.
He is a diplomat and soldier. While on active military service, he was in the Foreign Area Officer Association and remains a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He served in command and staff assignments with all types of infantry units in the United States, Hawaii, Korea and Italy.
In politicomilitary roles, he was Director for Strategic Planning and Policy for United States Pacific Command; U.S. Security Coordinator and Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation in Kabul, Afghanistan; Army and Defense Attache to China; Senior Country Director for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia in the Office of the United States Secretary of Defense; and Deputy Director for Strategy, Plans, and Policy on the Army Staff.
Education and recognitions
He is a graduate of the United States 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 and 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 Infantryman Badge, 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.