John Philip Abizaid
born 1 April 1951; جون فيليب أبي زيد)
Abizaid was born in Coleville, California, to a Lebanese-American family
Nickname The “Mad Arab,” earned while at West Point
Place of birth California
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1973-2007
Rank General (United States)
Commands held 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment
504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
1st Infantry Division
United States Military Academy
United States Central Command
retired General in the United States Army and former Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), overseeing American military operations in a 27-country region, from the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, to South and Central Asia, covering much of the Middle East. CENTCOM oversees 250,000 US troops. Abizaid succeeded General Tommy Franks as Commander, USCENTCOM, on 7 July 2003, and was also elevated to the rank of 4-star general the same week. He was succeeded by Admiral William J. Fallon on 16 March 2007.
General Abizaid retired from the military on May 1, 2007 after 34 years of service. As of 2007, Abizaid is employed as a fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. General Abizaid assumed the Distinguished Chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point in December 2007. Abizaid was appointed to the board of directors of RPM International on January 24, 2008. In 2008 he was selected as a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College.
Battles/wars Cold War
Persian Gulf War
War on Terrorism
*Second Persian Gulf War
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Abizaid’s military education includes the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York (Class of 1973); 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 Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, and was an Olmsted Scholar at the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan. Abizaid greatly impressed his teachers at Harvard University. Nadav Safran, the director of the Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies kept Abizaid’s 100-page paper on defense policy for Saudi Arabia, the only paper of a master’s student he has kept, saying, “It was absolutely the best seminar paper I ever got in my 30-plus years at Harvard.”
Abizaid was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, Class of 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. In 1983, he jumped from an MC-130 onto a landing strip in Grenada and ordered one of his Rangers to drive a bulldozer like a tank toward Cuban troops as he advanced behind it—a move highlighted in the 1986 Clint Eastwood film, Heartbreak Ridge.
Abizaid commanded the 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Regiment combat Team in Vicenza, Italy, during the Persian Gulf crisis and deployed with the battalion in Northern Iraq to provide a safe haven for the Kurds.
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 the United States Military Academy at West Point. At West Point, he reined in hazing rituals and revamped the curriculum. Later, he took command of the 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One,” in Würzburg, Germany, from David L. Grange, which provided the first U.S. ground forces into Kosovo. He served as the Deputy Commander (Forward), Combined Forces Command, US Central Command during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Robert Gates with Fallon and John Abizaid at the CENTCOM Change of Command ceremony, 2007.Staff assignments include a tour with the United Nations as Operations Officer (G-3) for Observer Group Lebanon and a tour in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. European staff tours include assignments in both the Southern European Task Force and Headquarters, U.S. Army Europe. Abizaid also served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of Strategic Plans and Policy (J-5) on the Joint Staff and Director of the Joint Staff.
Following the 2003 Iraq War and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, he assumed command of Central Command from General Tommy Franks.