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Stephen J. Townsend

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Years of service
1982 – present

Lieutenant general

Melissa Crawford Townsend

Stephen J. Townsend receiving an award given by LTG Scott D. Berrier.

United States of America

Commands held
CJTF – OIRXVIII Airborne Corps10th Mountain Division3rd Stryker BCT

Invasion of Grenada, Operation Urgent Fury, Invasion of Panama, Operation Just Cause, Operation Uphold Democracy, Global War on Terrorism, War in Afghanistan, Operation Anaconda, Iraq War, Battle of Baqubah

Battles and wars
Invasion of Grenada, United States Invasion of Panama, Operation Uphold Democracy, War on Terror

Distinguished Service Medal

1967 (age 54), Scheinfeld, Germany

John F Campbell (general), Raymond A Thomas, Curtis Scaparrotti,

Maj gen stephen j townsend speaks at new york state senate

Stephen J. Townsend is a United States Army officer who served as Commander Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve and the XVIII Airborne Corps. Townsend served with the 82nd Airborne Division, the 7th Infantry Division, the 75th Ranger Regiment, the 78th 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.


Stephen J. Townsend smiling and wearing his army uniform.

Early life and education

Stephen J. Townsend smiling and wearing his army uniform.

Townsend, of half German and half Afghan descent, was adopted by an American military family in Germany. His father was a staff sergeant in an armored unit. 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. He was commissioned into the Infantry from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps thereafter.


U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend (right), commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps, and Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones (left), 18th Airborne Corps, poses for a photo with a French child during the Liberty Banquet in Sainte Mere Eglise, France, on June 4, 2016.

After being commissioned as a military officer, 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. 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, he was Director of Operations, C/J3 for Combined Joint Task Force 180 during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Stephen J. Townsend wearing a red cap and army uniform while talking with a gentleman wearing a suit and tie.

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. 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. He also led Combined Joint Task Force 10 and Regional Command East at Bagram.

Stephen J. Townsend wearing his uniform while holding another army soldier.

On 4 May 2015, Townsend became commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps. He was promoted to lieutenant general shortly before. Townsend became commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve on 21 August 2016, replacing Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland.

Personal life

Townsend is married to Melissa Crawford Townsend and has two sons, Tyler and Evan.


Townsend is the recipient of the following awards:

Stephen J. Townsend with his team wearing their uniforms.


Stephen J. Townsend Wikipedia