Former U.S. Ambassador, Afghanistan
Lieutenant General, US Army, Retired
Karl Eikenberry is a former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (retired). He is a senior advisor to the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Defense on its defense and military transformation plan. He is also a faculty member of Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.
From 2011-2019 he was director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University. He was also an affiliate with the Stanford University Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies’ Center for International Security and Cooperation; Center for Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law; and The Europe Center.
Prior to his arrival at Stanford, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2009 until 2011. Before appointment as chief of mission in Kabul, he had a thirty-five year career in the United States Army, retiring with the rank of lieutenant general. His military operational posts included as commander and staff officer with mechanized, light, airborne, and ranger infantry units in the continental U.S., Hawaii, Korea, Italy, and as the Commander of the American-led Coalition forces in Afghanistan. He held 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; and assistant army and later defense attaché at the United States Embassy in Beijing.
He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, has earned 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. Eikenberry earned an Interpreter’s Certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office while studying at the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence Chinese Language School in Hong Kong and has 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 has received the Department of State Distinguished, Superior, and Meritorious Honor Awards, and Director of Central Intelligence Award. His foreign and international decorations include the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross, and French Legion of Honor. Eikenberry is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-directs the Academy’s project on civil wars, violence, and international responses, and serves on the Academy’s Committee on International Security Studies.
He belongs to the boards of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, The Asia Foundation, American Councils for International Education, Asia Society of Northern California, National Bureau of Asian Research, and National Committee on American Foreign Policy; and he is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Liechtenstein Institute for Self-Determination, Princeton University.
His articles and essays on U.S. and international security issues have appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Washington Quarterly, The American Interest, American Foreign Policy Interests, Lawfare, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Survival, Dædalus, The Financial Times, Parameters, and Military Review.