General Abizaid assumed duties as the Commander, U.S. Central Command on July 7, 2003.
General Abizaid was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in June 1973. He started his career with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he served as a rifle and scout platoon leader. He commanded companies in the 2nd and 1st Ranger Battalions, leading a Ranger Rifle Company during the invasion of Grenada.
General Abizaid commanded the 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Battalion combat Team in Vicenza, Italy, during the Gulf crisis and deployed with the battalion to Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. His brigade command was the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. He served as the Assistant Division Commander, 1st Armored Division, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Following that tour, he served as the 66th Commandant at West Point. Later, he commanded 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One,” in Wurzburg which provided our first ground forces into Kosovo. He served as the Deputy Commander (Forward), Combined Forces Command, US Central Command during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
Staff assignments include a tour with the United Nations as operations officer for Observer Group Lebanon and a tour in the Office of the Chief of the Staff, U.S. Army. European staff tours include assignments in both the Southern European Task Force and Headquarters, U.S. Army Europe. General Abizaid also served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of Strategic Plans and Policy (J5) on the Joint Staff and Director of the Joint Staff.
General Abizaid’s military education includes Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced courses, Armed Forces Staff College, and a U.S. Army War College Senior Fellowship at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In his civilian studies, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Area Studies at Harvard University, and was an Olmsted Scholar at the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan.
His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with five Oak Leaf Clusters and the Bronze Star. He earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Master Parachutist Badge with Gold Star, Ranger Tab and the Expert Infantryman’s Badge.