Karl Eikenberry is the Payne Distinguished Lecturer at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University (FSI). Within FSI he is an affiliated faculty member with the Center for International Security and Cooperation and an affiliated researcher with the Europe Center. Prior to his arrival at Stanford, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from May 2009 until July 2011, where he 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, Ambassador Eikenberry had a thirty-five year career in the United States Army, retiring in April 2009 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 2005-2007.
He has served in various policy and political-military positions, including Deputy Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium; Director for Strategic Planning and Policy for 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 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..
Ambassador Eikenberry 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 has an Advanced Degree in Chinese History from Nanjing University in the People’s Republic of China.
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 has received the Department of State Distinguished, Superior, and Meritorious Honor Awards, Director of Central Intelligence Award, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Distinguished Civilian Service and Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Awards. His foreign and international decorations include the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross, French Legion of Honor, Czech Republic Meritorious Cross, Hungarian Alliance Medal, Afghanistan’s Ghazi Amir Amanullah Khan and Akbar Khan Medals, and NATO Meritorious Service Medal.
Ambassador Eikenberry serves as a Trustee for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relation, the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the Council of American Ambassadors, and was previously the President of the Foreign Area Officers Association. He has published numerous articles on U.S. military training, tactics, and strategy, and on Chinese ancient military history and Asia-Pacific security issues. He has a commercial pilot’s license and instrument rating, and also enjoys sailing and scuba diving. He is married to Ching Eikenberry.