Karl Eikenberry

Karl Eikenberry

Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
Affiliate at the Center for International Security and Cooperation
Affiliate at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law
Affiliate at The Europe Center
Director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center

616 Serra Street
Stanford, CA 94305


Karl Eikenberry is the Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow, Director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative and faculty member at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University; Stanford University Professor of Practice; member of the Core Faculty of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, and an affiliate at the FSI 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, 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 United States, Hawaii, Korea, Italy and Afghanistan as the Commander of the American-led Coalition forces from 2005 to 2007. 

He 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 U.S. Department of State Distinguished, Superior, and Meritorious Honor Awards, Director of Central Intelligence Award, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award. He is also the recipient of the George F. Kennan Award for Distinguished Public Service and Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal. His foreign and international decorations include 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. 

Ambassador Eikenberry is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-directs the Academy’s project on civil wars, violence and international responses. He also serves as trustee for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Asia Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and American Councils of International Education. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy, and was previously the President of the Foreign Area Officers Association. He has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree from North Carolina State University, Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from Ball State University, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree from the University of San Francisco. His articles and essays on U.S. and international security issues have appeared in Foreign AffairsThe Washington QuarterlyThe American InterestAmerican Foreign Policy InterestsThe New York TimesThe Washington PostForeign Policy, Dædalus, and The Financial Times. He has a commercial pilot’s license and instrument rating, and also enjoys sailing and scuba diving. He is married to Ching Eikenberry.