After contributing so much to his country, General Petraeus turned over command of the International Security Assistance Force to Marine General John Allen on Monday in Afghanistan, with little fanfare or even mention by many news sources.
Thus ends one of the most remarkable military careers in modern history. To allow him to fade from view (although destined for leadership of the CIA as a civilian) with nothing more than a few short articles to mark the event just seems wrong.
His story is well-known. He led the 101st Airborne during the initial assault in Iraq, drafted a modern-day strategy to combat terrorism while at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, then was tasked to implement his new strategy as the war in Iraq deteriorated. A Boston Globe article published in early 2007 said, “The question Petraeus now faces is how he will balance the reality of Iraq with the game plan he has thoughtfully presented in his counterinsurgency manual.”
He did pretty well.
It is easy to forget the political climate during the time of General Petraeus’ change of command in 2007.
Even after early returns showed that the now-famous surge was working, he was met with skepticism.
Now, no one can argue that his strategy, coupled with its brilliant execution by the troops involved, was anything but a phenomenal success. In my opinion, it will go down as one of the most remarkable turnarounds in military history.
He was eventually promoted to lead Central Command, assuming responsibility for the conflicts not only in Iraq, but also Afghanistan. After the firing of General McCrystal in June of 2010, General Petraeus did what very few would do: he accepted a lower position in the chain of command to assume command of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. And he did it with humility and grace.
Now he has been asked to serve his country again as the Director of the CIA. To do so, he will take off the uniform, a decision he made in order to be better accepted by the largely civilian workforce he will be leading.
It has been a remarkable career, one that merits the nation’s appreciation as he steps away after serving continuously since 1974.
Well done, General. You are our hero of the week.