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U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid to Speak at Ohio Wesleyan University
Retired Four-Star General to Discuss ‘Strategic Challenges in the Middle East’

February 4, 2008

Retired Gen. John P. Abizaid
DELAWARE, OHIO – Retired four-star Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, former commander of U.S. Central Command, will discuss “Strategic Challenges in the Middle East” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Abizaid will speak in Gray Chapel at University Hall, 61. S. Sandusky St. The event is free and open to the public.

Abizaid oversaw Central Command (CENTCOM), which serves as U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East, from July 2003 to March 2007. Currently, he is a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, where his work focuses on national security and foreign policy.

In assessing the war with Iraq, Abizaid has told reporters that he thinks it will take up to five years before the Iraqi government is stable enough to operate alone. He also has questioned troop surges in the country, stating that surges don’t address underlying problems.

“It was clear that putting additional troops in would gain temporary security,” Abizaid has said. “What was not clear to me was what we were going to do diplomatically, economically, politically, and informationally to make sure that we moved forward in a way that wasn’t just temporary.”

As commander of CENTCOM, Abizaid oversaw 250,000 U.S. troops serving in a 27-country region stretching from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia, including Iraq and Afghanistan. During the same week that he assumed command of CENTCOM in 2003, he was elevated to the rank of four-star general.

During his military career, Abizaid also commanded companies in the 2nd and 1st Ranger Battalions, leading a Ranger rifle company during the invasion of Grenada. He commanded the 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Battalion combat team, in Vicenza, Italy, during the gulf crisis and deployed with that battalion to Kurdistan in northern Iraq. Later he commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Wurzburg, Germany, which provided the first ground forces in Kosovo. He also served as the deputy commander (forward), Combined Forces Command, CENTCOM, during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In addition to commanding troops, Abizaid has served as executive assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as director of strategic plans and policy (J5) on the Joint Staff, and as director of the Joint Staff. 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.

Abizaid’s visit to Ohio Wesleyan is sponsored by the International Studies Program with support from the Department of Politics and Government.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 40 states and 45 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.