Petraeus, David Howell

Petraeus, David Howell pĕtrā´əs [key], 1952–, American military officer and government official, b. Cornwall, N.Y., studied West Point (B.S., 1974), U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (1983), Princeton (M.P.A. 1985; Ph.D., 1987). Commissioned in the infantry, he became a colonel in 1995, a brigadier general in 2000, and a full general in 2007. In addition to holding various major staff offices, he has commanded a batallion of the 101st Airborne Division (1991–93) and a brigade of the 82d Airborne Division (1995–97). Petraeus also has held command positions in Kuwait (1999–2000) and Bosnia (2001–2) and commanded (2004) the 101st Airborne in a year of combat in Iraq. Later (2004–5) he led both the Security Transition Command and NATO training mission in Iraq, then was commanding general of the army's Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth. Considered one of the army's most intellectually gifted officers—he wrote the U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Handbook (2007)—Petraeus commanded (2007–8) American and international forces in Iraq, overseeing a change in counterinsurgency tactics and increase in troop deployment (the surge) that contributed to a reduction in violence and greater security there. He became head of the U.S. Central Command in 2008, and was appointed commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan in 2010. In 2011 he was named director of the Central Intelligence Agency and retired from the army, but he resigned as director in 2012 because of an extramarital affair, and subsequently worked in the private sector. He later pleaded guilty (2015) to providing his biographer, with whom he had the affair, with classified material and was fined.

See L. Robinson, Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq (2008); T. E. Ricks, The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006–2008 (2009); D. Cloud and G. Jaffe, The Fourth Star (2009); F. Kaplan, The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War (2013).

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