Military Wiki
Stephen J. Townsend
Townsend as Commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps
Born 1959 (age 62–63)
Place of birth Scheinfeld, West Germany[1]
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1982 – present
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held CJTF – OIR
XVIII Airborne Corps
10th Mountain Division
3rd Stryker BCT

Invasion of Grenada

  • Operation Urgent Fury

Invasion of Panama

  • Operation Just Cause

Operation Uphold Democracy
Global War on Terrorism

Awards Army Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal

Stephen J. Townsend is a United States Army officer who commanded the XVIII Airborne Corps from May 2015 until January 2018.[2] Townsend served with the 82nd Airborne Division, the 7th Infantry Division, the 75th Ranger Regiment, the 78th Infantry Division, and the 10th Mountain Division. He fought in Operation Urgent Fury, Operation Just Cause, and Operation Uphold Democracy. With the 10th Mountain Division, he served in the War in Afghanistan, leading a task force in Operation Anaconda. Townsend became commander of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, leading it in the Battle of Baqubah in the Iraq War. Townsend became commander of the 10th Mountain Division in the War in Afghanistan. In May 2015 he became commander of XVIII Airborne Corps, and in late August 2016 took command of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, until III Corps commander Army Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II took over command of OIR, which is now under command of III Corps. Townsend was nominated for promotion to General and will take command of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command.[3]

Early life and education

Townsend was born in Scheinfeld, Bavaria in 1959 to a German art student mother and an Afghan medical student father, the result of a love affair.[1] He was adopted soon after birth by an American military family in Germany. His adoptive father, James Townsend, was a staff sergeant in an armored unit.[4] Townsend grew up in Griffin, Georgia, graduating from Griffin High School in 1978. Townsend graduated from North Georgia College in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in psychology.[5] He was commissioned into the Infantry from the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps thereafter.[4]


Townsend and Colonel Brett G. Sylvia, the commander of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, travel to visit troops with Task Force Strike, 101st Airborne Division, Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, September 2016.

After earning his commission as a second lieutenant from North Georgia College in 1982, Townsend became a platoon leader, executive officer and assistant S3 in the 2nd Battalion (Airborne) of the 82nd Airborne Division's 505th Infantry Regiment. He participated in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. He was transferred to the 7th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Ord as the 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry S3. He became commander of the battalion's Alpha Company. After being transferred to Fort Benning, Townsend became S3 (Air) and assistant S3 at 75th Ranger Regiment headquarters. He participated in Operation Just Cause in Panama and later became commander of the 3rd Ranger Battalion's Charlie Company.[6] Townsend graduated from the Command and General Staff College and returned to Fort Benning, where he was Senior Liaison Office for the Ranger Regiment headquarters and the S3 of the 3rd Ranger Battalion. He participated in Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. Townsend was transferred to United States Pacific Command in Hawaii as J-5 Action Officer. He later became Special Assistant to the Combatant Commander. Townsend was sent to Fort Drum in New York, becoming S3 of the 78th Division (Training Support)'s 2d Brigade. In 1999, he became commander of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry in the 10th Mountain Division (Light). Townsend became commander of Task Force Polar Bear, deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda in 2002. Townsend graduated from the United States Army War College and became Division G3 of the 10th Mountain Division (Light) in 2003. From 2004,[7] he was Director of Operations, C/J3 for Combined Joint Task Force 180 during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.[6]

Townsend was appointed commander of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Lewis. He led Task Force Arrowhead during the Iraq War. Townsend led the brigade in the Battle of Baqubah in June 2007.[8] Townsend became executive officer for the United States Central Command commander at Tampa, Florida. He then became senior commander at Fort Campbell and then was Deputy Commanding General (Operations) for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) from 2009. Townsend served in the same position for Combined Joint Task Force 101 during Operation Enduring Freedom. He became Director of the Pakistan/Afghanistan Coordination Cell at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On 4 December 2012, Townsend became commander of the 10th Mountain Division.[9] He also led Combined Joint Task Force 10 and Regional Command East at Bagram.[6]

On 4 May 2015, Townsend became commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps. He was promoted to lieutenant general shortly before.[10] Townsend became commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve on 21 August 2016, replacing Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland.[2] On 27 November 2017 he was nominated for appointment as the next commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command[11] and promotion to general.[12] This nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 20 December 2017.[13]

Awards and decorations

Townsend is the recipient of the following awards:[6]

CIB2.png Combat Infantryman Badge with star (denoting 2nd award)
Combat Action Badge.svg Combat Action Badge
Expert Infantry Badge.svg Expert Infantryman Badge
Ranger Tab.svg Ranger tab
XVIII Airborne Corps BT.pngMaster Parachutist badge (United States).svg Master Parachutist Badge
AirAssault.svg Air Assault Badge
No free image.png Unidentified foreign parachutist badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
82nd Airborne Division CSIB.png 82nd Airborne Division Combat Service Identification Badge
75 Ranger Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia.svg 75th Ranger Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia
ASU overseas service bar.jpg 7 Overseas Service Bars
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Superior Service Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Width-44 scarlet ribbon with width-4 ultramarine blue stripe at center, surrounded by width-1 white stripes. Width-1 white stripes are at the edges."V" device, brass.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze Star Medal with "V" device and three oak leaf clusters
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Army Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Joint Meritorious Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters
Valorous Unit Award
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Unit Commendation with oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with two service stars
Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars
Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Bronze star
Humanitarian Service Medal with service star
Army Service Ribbon
Award numeral 4.png Army Overseas Service Ribbon with bronze award numeral 4
NATO Medal for Service with ISAF


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Battle Brings Soldier Closer to His Ethnic Roots". Thomas E. Ricks. 18 March 2002. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "New Operation Inherent Resolve commander continues fight against ISIL". United States Army. 22 August 2016. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kim, Kap (26 March 2015). "Departing commander reflects on three tours at his 'favorite' installation". DVIDS. 
  5. Rogers, Eddie (3 August 2016). "UNG alumnus Gen. Townsend to lead fight against ISIL". University of North Georgia. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend". United States Army Fort Bragg. 
  7. Block, Gordon (7 September 2014). "Q&A: Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of Fort Drum". Watertown Daily Times. 
  8. Partlow, Joshua (26 June 2007). "Troops Take Embattled Baqubah Bit by Bit, U.S. Commander Says". Washington Post. 
  9. Block, Gordon (4 December 2012). "Fort Drum welcomes new 10th Mountain Division commander at ceremony". Watertown Daily Times. 
  10. Tan, Michelle (4 May 2015). "XVIII Airborne Corps welcomes new commander". Army Times. 
  11. Townsend expected to be new US Army TRADOC commander
  12. "PN1264 — Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend — Army". 27 November 2017. 
  13. "PN1264 — Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend — Army". 20 December 2017. 

External links

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