Goodbye/Hello: General/Ambassador Karl Eikenberry

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
dons a U.S. Army ball cap at the conclusion of the retirement ceremony
for Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, Pentagon, Hall of Heroes, April 28, 2009.
DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
(See this high-resolution image. Click here for General Eikenberry
addressing the audience at his retirement ceremony)

Fred W. Baker III of the American Forces Press Service reported on April 28, 2009 on Gen. Karl Eikenberry’s retirement ceremony at the Pentagon. Excerpts below:

Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry retired here today, 24 hours before being sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.

“I’ll make this very brief. [My wife] and I are very eager to enjoy our 24-hour vacation,” the general joked during his retirement ceremony held at the Hall of Heroes in the Pentagon.

Eikenberry has spent more than 35 years in the Army and recently served two tours in Afghanistan. In his job at NATO, Eikenberry was heavily involved in the NATO international security assistance force mission and regularly traveled to Afghanistan.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who presided over the ceremony, said Eikenberry was the right man for the job.

“Karl Eikenberry’s talents are ideally suited to the president’s new comprehensive strategy, in which we must get the civilian piece of our efforts right,” Mullen said. “To plan real seeds of success in this region: opportunity, education and hope.” Mullen also said Eikenberry’s appointment comes at a critical time when civil-military operations have become more vital to success in Afghanistan.

“I look forward to working with old and with new teammates as we move forward to implement the president’s new strategy under extraordinarily difficult conditions,” the general was quoted as saying.

General Eikenberry was on Secretary Clinton’s schedule for April 29 @ 12:00 for his official swearing in as US Ambassador to Afghanistan. The event was closed to the press and so far, no photograph of this or other official swearing-in ceremonies have been posted by the State Department. He reportedly will start work on May 8th.

Meanwhile, over in Kabul, his Deputy Ambassador has been busy. Last Thursday, Ambassador Frank Ricciardone and Mayor of Kabul Abdulahad Sahibi took down the razor wire from the front of the U.S. Embassy to signal that the embassy is welcoming and open to the government and people of Afghanistan. [Caption this photo]. Three of the embassy’s 398 Facebook fans gave the move a thumbs up with one writing: “Excellent start up, hope other diplomatic, government and military establishments follow this by removing not only the razor wires but the blockades as well and give to Kabul city once again it is civilian image.”

Updated 4/6: I could not locate this swearing-in photo in the archives but found photo here with accompanying article.