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CENTCOM Deputy Abizaid Nominated as Next Commander

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2003 – President Bush has nominated Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid for a fourth star and the position of commander, U.S. Central Command, based at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Abizaid has served as CENTCOM deputy commander since February 2003. The command has the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa as its area of operations.

Abizaid, who is fluent in Arabic, is of Lebanese extraction and is from Coleville, Calif.

The Senate must confirm Abizaid in the post before he can take command. If confirmed, he would succeed Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who announced he would like to retire later this summer. Abizaid will take over responsibility for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.

He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and was commissioned an infantry second lieutenant in June 1973. His first assignment was with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

He was a rifle and scout platoon leader. From there, he commanded companies in the 75th Ranger Regiment, including company command in the 1983 Grenada operation.

During the first Gulf War in 1991, Abizaid commanded the 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy. The battalion deployed to Kurdistan in northern Iraq.

Later, he commanded the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, and served as the assistant division commander, 1st Armored Division in Bosnia.

After his service there, he returned to his alma mater and was the 66th commandant at West Point. Most recently, he commanded 1st Infantry Division, the ""Big Red One,"" in Wurzburg, Germany.

His immediate assignment before becoming CENTCOM deputy commander was as director of the Joint Staff in the Pentagon.

Abizaid is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and was a senior fellow 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 Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, five awards of the Legion of Merit 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.

(Based on a Department of Army biography.)

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