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Dartmouth 2009 Honorary Degree Recipient John P. Abizaid (Doctor of Laws)

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 04/23/09 • Media Contact: Roland Adams (603) 646-3661

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U.S. Army Gen. (Ret.)

John Abizaid

U.S. Army General John P. Abizaid retired from a distinguished military career in May 2007 after 34 years of active service. Following his graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, he rose from infantry platoon leader to become the youngest four-star general in the Army and the longest-serving commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM).

As CENTCOM commander he oversaw 250,000 American military personnel as well as operations and strategy in a 27-country region from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East to South and Central Asia. He replaced General Tommy Franks in the post on July 7, 2003 and was promoted to the rank of four-star general the same week. Admiral William J. Fallon succeeded Abizaid as CENTCOM commander on March 16, 2007.

General Abizaid graduated from the United States Military Academy with a bachelor of science degree in 1973.  His military education, in addition to infantry basic and advanced courses, included the Armed Forces Staff College and an Army War College Senior Fellowship at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.  His civilian studies included an Olmsted Scholarship at the University of Jordan, Amman, and a Master of Arts degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. 

Born in Coleville, California, Abizaid is fluent in Arabic and was the most senior U.S. military officer of direct Arab descent. 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 also won the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Master Parachutist Badge with Gold Star, Ranger Tab, and the Expert Infantryman’s Badge. In addition, he holds military honors from numerous nations including: Germany, France, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Australia, Afghanistan and Egypt.

Abizaid regularly speaks on leadership and international security and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He also currently serves as a Director of the George Olmsted Foundation. He also works as a Senior Advisor with the Preventive Defense Project, a research collaboration of Stanford University and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government In 2007 Abiziad was named the first Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, focusing on the fields of national security and foreign policy. He was selected as one of Dartmouth’s Montgomery Fellows for the fall 2008 term and was in residence at the College part of that term.

Abizaid and his wife are residents of Gardnerville, Nevada.

< Return to 2009 Commencement Press Release

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