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Former top US commander in Afghanistan to examine military’s role in interventions

Northeastern University will host retired Gen. David D. McKiernan, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, on Thursday, Sept. 20 for an engaging, candid discussion with the university community examining the use of military in U.S. interventions around the globe pre- and post-9/11.

The event, entitled “U.S. Military Interventions, Pre- and Post-9/11” and co-sponsored by the Office of the President and College of Social Sciences and Humanities, will be held at 5 p.m. in the Raytheon Amphitheater.

“General McKiernan’s career has been one of extraordinary experiences and achievements,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University. “I am delighted that he is joining us to share his perspectives on leadership and engage in a discussion about issues of great national and global importance.”

McKiernan, the former commander for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, entered the Army in 1972 with an ROTC commission and commanded soldiers at every rank from second lieutenant to four-star general. His distinguished 37-year U.S. Army career included service in the Gulf War, Korea, Europe and the Balkans, Southwest Asia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He led all ground forces into Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002-03, removing Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party from power with a 160,000 joint and coalition formation. In his final command assignment in Afghanistan in 2008-09, he was responsible for more than 100,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Special Forces in both a NATO ISAF (including 42 contributing nations) and U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom role.

McKiernan said he is eager to engage Northeastern students, faculty and staff in a discussion that will draw on his vast military experiences and touch on some of the most important challenges American society faces now and in the future.

“It’s important that people with practical experience in issues and challenges around the world, particularly in the realm of national security, share that experience with others in an academic environment such as this, and interact with young people who are shaping their own career paths and preparing to go out into this complex world,” McKiernan said.

The wealth of practical, real-world experience McKiernan holds is at the core of the university’s signature experiential education model, through which students work, study abroad and engage in research in 92 countries worldwide.

Northeastern’s mission includes supporting use-inspired research that solves global challenges, particularly in the area of security, health and sustainability. The university also has a longstanding commitment to supporting veterans and the ROTC.

The university has hosted an ROTC program on campus since 1950, and at one time it was the largest completely volunteer ROTC unit in the country with about 2,800 cadets enrolled.

The event will mark McKiernan’s second visit to campus in the last year. In November 2011, he joined university leaders at a Veterans Day ceremony at the university’s Veterans Memorial to honor those who have served and protected our country.

“I appreciate President Aoun’s invitation for me to return to Northeastern, and I look forward to a very open, candid discussion,” McKiernan said.

McKiernan holds a master’s degree in public administration from Shippensburg College, and an undergraduate degree in European history and an honorary doctorate in public service from the College of William and Mary.