Eikenberry Takes Command of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan
By Pfc. Vincent C. Fusco, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP EGGERS, Afghanistan, May 4, 2005 Army Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry assumed command of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan as a steady rain fell here May 3.
From right, Army Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, incoming commander; Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command; and Army Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, outgoing commander, prepare for the Combined Forces Command Afghanistan change-of-command ceremony May 3. Photo by Spc. John Chriswell, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
He succeeds Army Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, who will be the Army's assistant chief of staff for installation management.
"Rain is good luck," said Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, referring to an earlier statement made by Afghan President Hamid Karzai at a breakfast meeting with the generals. The wet weather is welcome in a country suffering from more than six years of drought.
Abizaid presided over the passing of the colors, the traditional ritual that passes command from the outgoing commander to the new one. A formation led by CFCA Command Sgt. Maj. Cynthia Pritchett represented CFCA elements: Combined Joint Task Force 76, the Office of Military Cooperation Afghanistan, Task Force Phoenix and coalition allies.
Barno, an Endicott, N.Y., native, was presented with NATO's Meritorious Service Medal. He also received an antique rifle from Afghan Defense Minister Abdurahim Wardak. The rifle signifies courage and bravery in Afghanistan.
"General Barno has achieved great victories in the war against terrorism," Wardak said. Since assuming command in November 2003, he worked to defeat terrorism, develop the Afghan National Army and rebuild Afghanistan.
Eikenberry served for a year as the U.S. security coordinator and chief of the Office of Military Cooperation in the Afghan capital of Kabul, and worked to set up the Afghan National Army before leaving the country in September 2003.
"It's a real honor and privilege to come back to Afghanistan," Eikenberry said. He gave thanks to U.S. and coalition servicemembers and pledged to continue CFC-A's mission.
"I give a pledge to this command to follow in General Barno's footsteps," he said. "We will continue to work together, build security forces and support the rebuilding of Afghanistan."
As Barno had done for the Afghan presidential election last year, Eikenberry said he will work with the Afghan government to support the upcoming parliamentary elections.
"Our mission will continue in the same direction, ... working with the United Nations, coalition forces, and most importantly, the Afghan government," Eikenberry said.
CFCA is made up of more than 18,000 troops -- 16,700 U.S. servicemembers and 1,600 personnel from 22 allied nations who conduct full-spectrum operations, from combat to humanitarian activities, to defeat terrorism and establish enduring security in the country.
"We will continue to prosecute the war against terror in partnership with the Islamic government of Afghanistan and be relentless as we move forward," said Eikenberry. "So much has been accomplished, and so much has to be done."
A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Eikenberry has master's degrees from Harvard University in East Asian studies and Stanford University in political science. He holds the Department of State Superior Honor Award and Afghanistan's Akbar Khan Award, presented by Karzai.
Eikenberry's last assignment was as the director of strategic planning and policy for U.S. Pacific Command.
(Army Pfc. Vincent C. Fusco is assigned to the 20th Public Affairs Detachment.)