David Barno

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David W. Barno
Born (1954-07-05) July 5, 1954 (age 66)
Endicott, New York
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchUnited States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service1976–2006
RankUS-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Battles/warsOperation Urgent Fury
Operation Just Cause
Operation Enduring Freedom
AwardsDistinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal

David William Barno[1] (born July 5, 1954)[2] is a retired Lieutenant General of the United States Army. He was head of Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan from 2003–2005.

Early life[edit]

Barno is a native of Endicott, New York. He is a graduate of Union Endicott High School Class of 1972.


Barno's military education includes the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York (Class of 1976); Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced courses, Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.[3]

In his civilian studies, he earned a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies at Georgetown University.[3]

Service career[edit]

Lieutenant General David W. Barno
General Barno during a press conference at The Pentagon on October 19, 2004.
Lieutenant General David Barno converse with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during Barno tenure as Commander, Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan, at Kandahar, Afghanistan, December 4, 2003.
Lieutenant General David Barno with Brigadier General Lloyd Austin accompanying Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during Rumsfeld's visit to Kandahar, Afghanistan on February 26, 2004.
Rumsfeld, Khalizad, & Barno, 2004.

Barno was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, Class of June 1976.[4] He started his career with the 25th Infantry Division, where he served as a rifle, weapons and scout platoon leader. He commanded companies in the 25th Infantry Division and the 1st Ranger Battalion, leading a Ranger Rifle Company during the invasion of Grenada in 1983.

In 1988 Barno returned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion as S-3 (Operations) where he parachuted into Panama during Operation Just Cause. He subsequently served as the aide de camp to the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

General Barno commanded the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, followed by command of the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Ft Lewis, Washington. Following attendance at the Army War College, he commanded the Warrior Brigade, a multi-functional support brigade at Fort Polk, Louisiana, which supported the Joint Readiness Training Center and was then the largest brigade in the Army. He then directed the Joint Task Force training program at Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Virginia. With three Ranger Battalion tours and command of the 3rd Bn, 505th PIR in the 82nd Airborne Division, he accumulated over 110 parachute jumps during his career, to include a 500-foot night-time parachute assault into Panama in 1989, during which 11 of 15 jump aircraft were struck by enemy fire. He holds the coveted Combat Infantryman's Badge as well as the Ranger Tab and Master Parachutist Badge with Combat Jump Star.

Following selection to Brigadier General, General Barno served as the Assistant Division Commander (Operations) for the 25th Infantry Division as well as Deputy Director of Operations, U.S. Pacific Command. Barno was promoted to Major General in 2001 and served as the Commanding General, Ft Jackson, SC, the Army's largest training base. During his time at Ft Jackson, he led Chief of Staff Army Task Forces on the Future Force Soldier and Warrior Ethos. Barno was the principal author of the Army's 2003 culture-changing Warrior Ethos which dictates: "Mission First, Never Accept Defeat, Never Quit, and Never Leave Behind a Fallen Comrade." In January 2003, Barno was deployed to Hungary as the Commanding General of Task Force Warrior tasked to train Free Iraqi Forces in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

General Barno was promoted to lieutenant general (three stars) in 2003 at age 49, becoming the first member of his West Point class of 1976 to achieve that distinction. In October 2003, he deployed to Afghanistan where he was designated to establish a three-star headquarters in Kabul and ultimately command over 20,000 Coalition Forces for 19 months as the first Commander, Military Operations-Afghanistan (later redesignated Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan, United States Central Command, Afghanistan). During his tenure, he forged a close relationship with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, co-locating his command at the US Embassy compound and creating an integrated civil-military Counter-insurgency campaign plan for Afghanistan focused on the Afghan population.[5] Without an official post-Vietnam COIN doctrine by the US military, he based his counter-insurgency strategy off his U.S. Military Academy Revolutionary Warfare class notes and COIN works by T.E. Lawrence, the USMC Small Wars Manual, Sorley's A Better War, and John Nagl.

After commanding in Afghanistan, General Barno was reassigned to The Pentagon in Washington, DC where he served briefly on the Army Staff as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management (ACSIM) until his decision to retire in the spring of 2006.

Recent endeavors[edit]

Following his retirement from active duty, Barno served as the Director of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. for four years and joined the Center for a New American Security as a Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow in May 2010.[4] From 2007–2009, he served as the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom Veterans and Families for the Secretary of Veterans' Affairs. He has testified numerous times before Congress on counter-insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Al Qaeda and Joint Professional Military Education, and lectures and writes often on those topics.

His articles and opinion pieces have appeared in Foreign Policy, The Atlantic,[6] and the Washington Post.

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

From 2006 until April 2009, he served as the Director of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. From 2007-2009, he served as the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom Veterans and Families for the Secretary of Veterans' Affairs. He testifies frequently before Congress on counter-insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Al Qaeda and Joint Professional Military Education, and lectures and writes often on those topics. Barno often travels throughout the Middle East and South Asia region and has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Tufts, Johns Hopkins SAIS, West Point, and the US Army and Naval War Colleges.

Military and government issued awards[edit]

General Barno's many awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Defense Superior Service Medal (three awards), the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (with silver and bronze oak leaf clusters), the NATO Meritorious Service Medal, the Department of State Meritorious Honor Award, the Army Commendation and Achievement Medals and several campaign and unit awards for combat actions. He also has been awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge Master Parachutist Badge with Combat Star, Pathfinder Badge, the Ranger Tab, and the German parachutist badge.

Dates of rank[edit]

Dates of Rank
Insignia Rank Date
US-O9 insignia.svg LTG November 27, 2003
US-O8 insignia.svg MG February 1, 2003
US-O7 insignia.svg BG January 1, 2000
US-O6 insignia.svg COL September 1, 1996
US-O5 insignia.svg LTC February 1, 1992
US-O4 insignia.svg MAJ December 1, 1986
US-O3 insignia.svg CPT August 1, 1980
US-OF1A.svg 1LT June 2, 1978
US-OF1B.svg 2LT June 2, 1976


  1. ^ "David William Barno". West Point Association of Graduates. Retrieved 2020-12-12.
  2. ^ Tucker, Spencer C., Editor (2015). "Barno, David William (1954–)". U.S. Conflicts in the 21st Century: Afghanistan War, Iraq War, and the War on Terror. ABC-CLIO. p. 150. ISBN 9781440838798. Retrieved 2020-12-12.
  3. ^ a b "Profile David Barno".
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-07. Retrieved 2014-05-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Chapter 21, 'Storm Clouds,' in Fred Kaplan, 'The Insurgents,' Simon & Schuster, New York, 2013, 319-321.
  6. ^ David Barno. "David Barno". The Atlantic.
  • Auerswald, David P. & Stephen M. Saideman, eds. NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone (Princeton U.P. 2014) This book breaks down the history of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan down by deployed commander. It covers Barno's struggle to implement a strategy for Afghanistan that was more COIN-focused than Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved of.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Dan K. McNeill
Commander, Combined Forces Command — Afghanistan
Succeeded by
Karl Eikenberry