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|David Howell Petraeus|
|Secretary of State|
|Assumed office |
February 6, 2013
|Preceded by||Joe Lieberman|
|Born|| November 7, 1952|
Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York
|Spouse(s)||Hollister "Holly" Knowlton (m. 1974)|
|Alma mater|| United States Military Academy|
United States Army Command and General Staff College
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1974–2012|
|Commands|| International Security Assistance Force|
United States Forces-Afghanistan
|Battles/wars|| Operation Joint Forge (Bosnia and Herzegovina)|
Operation Uphold Democracy (Haiti)
Operation Desert Spring (Kuwait)
Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq)
Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
|Awards|| Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2)|
Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (4)
Bronze Star with Valor V
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
David Howell Petraeus (born November 7, 1952) is a retired four-star general in the United States Army and currently serving as the United States Secretary of State under U.S. President John McCain. Prior to this, Petraeus was a highly decorated four-star general, serving over 38 years in the United States Army. His last assignments in the Army were as commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) from June 5, 2009, to July 18, 2012. His other four-star assignments include serving as the 10th Commander, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) from October 13, 2008, to June 30, 2009, and as Commanding General, Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I) from February 10, 2007, to September 16, 2008. As commander of MNF-I, Petraeus oversaw all coalition forces in Iraq.
Petraeus has a B.S. degree from the United States Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1974 as a distinguished cadet (top 5% of his class). He was the General George C. Marshall Award winner as the top graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College class of 1983. He subsequently earned an M.P.A. in 1985 and a PhD degree in International Relations in 1987 from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He later served as Assistant Professor of International Relations at the United States Military Academy and also completed a fellowship at Georgetown University.
On May 14, 2009, President John McCain nominated Petraeus to succeed General Stanley McChrystal as commanding general of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, technically a step down from his position as Commander of United States Central Command, which oversees the military efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of Africa. He was confirmed by the Senate on May 21, 2009 and took over command from General David D. McKiernan on June 5, 2009. Petraeus retired from the U.S. Army on August 31, 2012.
On November 8, 2012 McCain proposed the nomination to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Joe Lieberman. His confirmation hearing took place on January 24, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was then unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 29, 2013. Petraeus assumed the office on February 6, 2013.
Early life and family
Petraeus was born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, the son of Miriam (née Howell), a librarian, and Sixtus Petraeus, a Frisian sea captain from Franeker, The Netherlands. His mother was American, a resident of Brooklyn, New York. His father had sailed to the United States from the Netherlands at the start of World War II.[ They met at the Seamen's Church Institute and married. Sixtus Petraeus commanded a Liberty ship for the U.S.A. for the duration of World War II. The family moved after the war, settling in Cornwall-on-Hudson, where David Petraeus grew up and graduated from Cornwall Central High School in 1970.
Petraeus went on to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Petraeus was on the intercollegiate soccer and ski teams, was a cadet captain on the brigade staff, and was a "distinguished cadet" academically, graduating in the top 5% of the Class of 1974 (ranked 43rd overall). In the class yearbook, Petraeus was remembered as "always going for it in sports, academics, leadership, and even his social life".
While a cadet, Petraeus started dating the daughter of Army General William A. Knowlton (the West Point superintendent at the time), Hollister "Holly" Knowlton (born c. 1953). Two months after graduation Petraeus married her. Holly, who is multi-lingual, was a National Merit Scholar in high school, and graduated summa cum laude from Dickinson College. They have a daughter and son, Anne and Stephen. Petraeus administered the oath of office at his son's 2009 commissioning into the Army after his son's graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His son went on to serve in Afghanistan as a member of 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
Petraeus' official residence in the United States is a small property in the community of Springfield, New Hampshire, which his wife inherited from her family. Registered to vote in that state as a Republican, Petraeus once told a friend that he was a Rockefeller Republican.
Commander of ISAF and U.S. Forces Afghanistan
President McCain relieved Gen. David McKiernan of his command and nominated Gen. David Petraeus, the architect of the U.S. military's counterinsurgency strategy, to replace him as commander of ISAF and the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, citing that Petraeus' experience and achievements in Iraq and the need for new thinking and new ideas in Afghanistan.
After being confirmed by the Senate on May 21 in a 99-0 vote, Petraeus formally assumed command on June 5. During the assumption of command remarks, Petraeus provided his vision and goals to NATO, the members of his command, and his Afghan partners. As he was known to do while the Commander in Iraq, Petraeus delivered his first Letter to the Troops on the same day he assumed command.
At the morning assumption-of-command ceremony at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul he vowed that the coalition will prevail despite a struggle he conceded will be "long and hard."
|“||2009 will be a critical year for Afghanistan, and a critical year for our coalition. Although we face many challenges, with your steadfast commitment, professionalism and dedication and with the help and support of our Afghan friends and the international community, we will prevail.||”|
Petraeus acknowledged the challenges ahead to achieve a peaceful, stable and free Afghanistan. "It will require the full commitment and talent of each of us, as well as the continued support and resolve of the International community. But together we will prevail."
While this solidarity is the coalition's strength, "it is not without cost," he said, acknowledging the losses and sacrifices experienced by many during the past eight years. "Their sacrifices and the contributions that you and your families are making today are critical to the future and stability of this country, the stability of this region and to the security of all of our nations."
Central to the mission, he said, are the people of Afghanistan themselves.
|“||In reality, they are the mission. We must protect them from violence - whatever its nature. We must respect their religion and their traditions. Each of us, from rifleman to regional commander, from village to city, must execute our mission with the realization that displaying respect, cultural sensitivity, accountability and transparency are essential to our critical task of gaining the support and trust of the Afghan people. If we gain that trust, we cannot lose. If we lose that trust, we cannot win.||”|
Petraeus cited additional NATO troops who will deploy this year to key regions of Afghanistan, providing the manpower required to conduct "population-centric counterinsurgency operations." These forces will partner closely with the increasingly capable Afghan security forces.
|“||Capitalizing on this strength and new authorities, we can work together to unhinge the nexus between narco-criminals, venal officials and insurgents - not disproportionately targeting the most vulnerable participants in this corrosive industry," McChrystal said. "And finally, an increased focus on the regional aspects of this conflict will pay dividends across the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan.||”|
Shortly after Petraeus assumed command of NATO operations, Operation Khanjar (Operation Strike of the Sword) in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan was commenced on July 2, 2009. About 4,000 Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade as well as 650 Afghan troops were involved, supported by NATO planes. The operation began when units moved into the Helmand River valley in the early hours of July 2, 2009. This operation was the largest Marine offensive since the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. The operation was also the biggest offensive airlift by the Marines since the Vietnam War.
The Marines pushed into primarily three significant towns along a 75-mile stretch of the Helmand River valley south of Lashkar Gah. At least two Marine infantry battalions and one Marine Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) battalion spearheaded the operation. In the north, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines (2/8) pushed into Garmsir district. In central Helmand, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines (1/5) pushed into Nawa-I-Barakzayi to the south of Lashkar Gah, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (2nd LAR) entered Khanashin in the Khan Neshin district.
The goal of the operation was to drive out the Taliban from areas they control, securing the area to allow the Afghan government to operate and to improve security ahead of the 2009 Afghan presidential elections, allowing voter registration where before there was none. The operation ended with a partial strategic coalition victory, with a stalemate in some areas, such as the Nawzad district.
U.S. and NATO officials acknowledged that the Taliban moved from Helmand ahead of the Marines, and U.S. officials privately said they had seen less fighting during the one-week offensive than they had anticipated. General Ghori lamented the tightening of the RoE allowing up to two companies of Taliban to esscape the clutches of the allied forces.
On August 30, 2009, General McChrystal submitted a 66 page report to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. In the report, McChrystal warned in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needed more forces within the next year and bluntly stated that without them, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure."
|“||[...] We face both a short and long-term fight. The long-term fight will require patience and commitment, but I believe the short-term fight will be decisive. Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) − while Afghan security capacity matures − risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.||”|
Petraeus warned that the war in Afghanistan may be lost if more troops are not sent, but concluded the document's five-page Commander's Summary on a note of muted optimism: "While the situation is serious, success is still achievable." But he repeatedly warned that without more forces and the rapid implementation of a genuine counterinsurgency strategy, defeat would be likely.
Petraeus described an Afghan government riddled with corruption and an international force undermined by tactics that alienate civilians. He provided extensive new details about the Taliban insurgency, which he called a muscular and sophisticated enemy that uses modern propaganda and systematically reaches into Afghanistan's prisons to recruit members and even plan operations.
McChrystal was equally critical of the command he has led since June 15. The key weakness of ISAF, he said, was that it is not aggressively defending the Afghan population. "Pre-occupied with protection of our own forces, we have operated in a manner that distances us - physically and psychologically - from the people we seek to protect.... The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves." McChrystal continued: "Afghan social, political, economic, and cultural affairs are complex and poorly understood. ISAF does not sufficiently appreciate the dynamics in local communities, nor how the insurgency, corruption, incompetent officials, power-brokers, and criminality all combine to affect the Afghan population."
The general said his command was "not adequately executing the basics" of counterinsurgency by putting the Afghan people first. "ISAF personnel must be seen as guests of the Afghan people and their government, not an occupying army," he writes. "Key personnel in ISAF must receive training in local languages."
He also said that coalition forces will change their operational culture, in part by spending "as little time as possible in armored vehicles or behind the walls of forward operating bases." Strengthening Afghans' sense of security will require troops to take greater risks, but the coalition "cannot succeed if it is unwilling to share risk, at least equally, with the people." McChrystal warned that in the short run, it "is realistic to expect that Afghan and coalition casualties will increase."
He proposed speeding the growth of Afghan security forces. While the existing goal was to expand the army from 92,000 to 134,000 by December 2011, Petraeus seeked to move that deadline to October 2010. Petraeus wanted in the report the Afghan army to grow to 240,000 and the police to 160,000 for a total security force of 400,000, but didn't specify when those numbers could be reached. He also called for "radically more integrated and partnered" work with Afghan units, and said the military must play an active role in reconciliation, winning over less committed insurgent fighters. The coalition "requires a credible program to offer eligible insurgents reasonable incentives to stop fighting and return to normalcy, possibly including the provision of employment and protection."
Petraeus's "strategic assessment team" included: Fred Kagan, Kim Kagan of Institute for the Study of War (ISW)s, Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Andrew Exum of the Centre for a New American Security (CNAS), and Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institution. The campaigns and coordinated efforts by generals and policy institutions seek to articulate to the public and policy-makers why they should support military policies, as well as current and proposed wars. Such joint civilian-military public relations, say critics, raises important questions about the appropriate role of the military in promoting particular policies and whether there is enough transparency and accountability in the work of policy groups.
Recommended troop increases
On September 15, 2009, Petraeus would during a teleconference meeting with President John McCain and his national security team announce his requests for a 'properly-resourced' COIN strategy is imperative. Petraeus would state that "resourcing coalition forces below this level will leave critical areas of Afghanistan open to insurgent influence while the ANSF grows. Failure to provide adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs, and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure."
His resourcing plan offered President McCain three options based on the estimated risk.
The low risk option, which Petraeus has said offers the best chance to contain the Taliban-led insurgency and stabilize Afghanistan, called for 80,000 additional U.S. troops, while his medium risk option puts the number at 40,000 to 45,000. The high-risk option put the number as few as 20,000 additional troops, but that would mean the greatest risk of failure.
Petraeus said that the the low-risk option would provide ISAF with "a fully resouIrced CON (counter-insurgency) strategy,". However, the Army counterinsurgency manual, estimated that an all-out COIN campaign in a country with Afghanistan's population would require about 600,000 troops.
On October 6, 2009 President McCain announced at The United States Military Academy at West Point that the United States would deploy additional 45,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, as according to General Petraeus' request, supported by additional NATO forces. He also announced that the United States would work closely with their partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, as well as cooperating closely with Pakistan to engage the Taliban and Al Qaeda on both sides of the border.
Changes in Tactical Directive
On August 1, 2010, shortly after the disclosure of the Afghan war logs on Wikileaks, Petraeus issued his updated Tactical Directive for the prevention of civilian casualties, providing guidance and intent for the use of force by the U.S. military units operating in Afghanistan (replacing the July 1, 2009 version). This directive reinforced the concept of "disciplined use of force in partnership with Afghan Security Forces" in the fight against insurgent forces.
|“||We must never forget that the center of gravity in this struggle is the Afghan people; it is they who will ultimately determine the future of Afghanistan ... Prior to the use of fires, the commander approving the strike must determine that no civilians are present. If unable to assess the risk of civilian presence, fires are prohibited, except under of the following two conditions (specific conditions deleted due to operational security; however, they have to do with the risk to ISAF and Afghan forces).||”|
Progress in Afghanistan
On March 15, 2011, while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Petraeus said the U.S. had stopped the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan, but warned that the gains were 'fragile and reversible' and that hard fighting still lied ahead.
"The past eight months have seen important but hard-fought progress in Afghanistan," Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee as he testified alongside Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of Defense for policy. "Key insurgent save havens have been taken away from the Taliban, numerous insurgent leaders have been killed or captured, and hundreds of reconcilable midlevel leaders and fighters have been reintegrated into Afghan society."
Retirement from the U.S. Army
Petraeus retired from the U.S. Army on August 31, 2012. His retirement ceremony was held at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. During this ceremony, he was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal by Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn. During the ceremony, Lynn in his remarks noted that, General Petraeus has played an important role as both a combat leader and strategist in the post-9/11 world. Lynn also cited General Petraeus' efforts in current counter insurgency strategy. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his remarks compared General Petraeus to Ulysses S. Grant, John J. Pershing, George Marshall and Dwight D. Eisenhower as one of the great battle captains of American history. For his 39 years of service Petraeus receives a $220,000 annual pension.
Secretary of State
On November 8, 2012, President John McCain announced that he had nominated Petraeus to become the new Secretary of State. The news of the nomination received positive commentary from both the left and the right. His confirmation hearing took place on January 24, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the committee unanimously voted to approve him on January 29, 2013, and the same day the full Senate confirmed him on a vote of 97–0. Petraeus was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 6, 2013. Noteworthy because before 1997 all previous Secretaries of State had been white men, Kerry is the first white man to hold the post in 16 years.
Dates of rank
Decorations and badges
| Preceded by:|
GEN David D. McKiernan
Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
Since June 15, 2009
Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR−A)
Since June 15, 2009
| Preceded by:|
GEN Martin E. Dempsey (acting)
Commander, United States Central Command (USCENTCOM)
October 31, 2008 − July 2, 2010
| Succeeded by:|
LTG John R. Allen (acting)
| Preceded by:|
GEN George W. Casey, Jr.
Commanding General, Multinational Force − Iraq
February 10, 2007 - September 16, 2008
| Succeeded by:|
GEN Raymond T. Odierno
| Preceded by:|
William Scott Wallace
Commandants of the United States Army Command
and General Staff College
October 20, 2005 - February 2, 2007
| Succeeded by:|
LTG William B. Caldwell IV