The Cult of David Petraeus

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David Petraeus stepped down from his position as the director of the CIA on Friday, citing his "extremely poor judgment" in engaging in an extramarital affair. "Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as [the CIA]," he wrote in his resignation letter. Within hours of the announcement, the woman involved in the affair was identified as Petraeus's biographer, Paula Broadwell, and bizarre twists and turns continue to come out by the hour.

Petraeus's resignation is a significant interruption -- though almost certainly not the end -- of a long career in military and government service. His meteoric rise in the past decade saw him shoot from being the commanding general at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, home to the Army's in-house think tank but a command backwater, to becoming the most prominent strategist for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He gained a reputation for innovation and was frequently described as an intellectual and outlier among American generals. He was widely portrayed as a hero, the savior of military planning in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an icon of duty and leadership -- an image he helped create with his own deft public relations, even as critics weighed in heavily against his efforts to translate his strategy in Iraq to Afghanistan with considerably less success. Here, we take a look at Petraeus's rise to fame -- as a military hero, scholar, and statesman -- and how it all fell apart.

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Petraeus graduated from West Point in 1974 and went into the infantry. He earned his Ranger tab, and passed through a variety of academic programs and posts, working through degrees at the Command and General Staff College and Princeton before teaching at his undergraduate alma mater. He also was given a number of commands, and by the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was a two-star general commanding the 101st Airborne Division. For much of the next year, he oversaw the city of Mosul and focused on the kinds of nation-building projects that would become part and parcel of the counterinsurgency strategy that would become the cornerstone of his command legacy. After his post in Mosul, he oversaw the U.S. training mission in Iraq.

Here Petraeus, having been promoted to lieutenant general, speaks with Brigadier General Abdul Kadir Jassim of the Iraqi Army on June 10, 2004 in a helicopter above Tikrit, Iraq.

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From his command in Iraq, Petraeus returned to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. There, from 2005 to 2007, he and his staff rewrote the Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual, the first major revision of the text since Vietnam. Counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) proposes that the military wage its wars through engaging with local populations and promoting their sense of security over efforts that alienate local groups, even if these tactics are successful at eliminating insurgents. For such a strategy to work, though, it would require closer relations between troops and Iraqis in places where the United States had tried to maintain a light footprint. COIN took off, quickly rallying a passionate collection of advocates -- their detractors would label them COINdinistas -- eager for a change of strategy in the struggling war in Iraq. That change was put into effect with the surge, the deployment of an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq announced in January 2007, and on Feb. 10, 2007, Petreaus took command of U.S. forces in Iraq to guide the new effort.

Here, Petraeus assumes command from CENTCOM commander Gen. John Abizaid in Baghdad, Iraq, replacing Gen. George Casey. He had recently been promoted to the rank of four-star general.

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Petraeus was respected for his leadership style in addition to his strategic savvy. He made it a point to visit forces throughout the area of his command. He also took time for wounded troops. Above, he speaks with Staff Sgt. Bernard Teich before awarding him a Purple Heart at the 28th Combat Support Hospital on March 1, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

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In Iraq, Petraeus practiced the population-centric counterinsurgency strategy he helped design. He would later tell journalist Peter Bergen that he was shocked to see the transformation of streets that he remembered as bustling thoroughfares during his first deployment to ghost towns with tumbleweeds in the streets. He toured neighborhoods and spoke to Iraqis to help build confidence in local security efforts. Above, he laughs with a merchant in the Shorja market area on March 3, 2007 in Baghdad.

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During his time as the commander of the Multinational Force-Iraq, Petraeus increasingly became the public face of the war in a way that previous generals overseeing the conflict had not. Here, he sits with President George W. Bush as he talks to reporters assembled in the Oval Office on April 23, 2007.

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In his role as a public figure, he grew accustomed to a life in the limelight. He was earnest without being gaffe-prone, and made time for journalists in ways that many of his peers in the higher echelons of the military did not. While reports in the past several days have noted that Broadwell would accompany Petraeus on his daily five-mile runs, she was not the only journalist to do so, as Spencer Ackerman notes in his painfully honest reflection, "How I Was Drawn Into the Cult of David Petraeus."

Above, Petraeus speaks to the media after briefing members of the Senate on the status of the surge in closed-door briefings at the Capitol on April 25, 2007 in Washington, D.C.

Here, Petraeus leaves an American army outpost in Baquba, in Diyala Province, northwest of Baghdad. The neighborhood had recently been wrested from insurgents. Petraeus toured the city on July 7, 2007, as forces entered their third week fighting militants in the area. The strategy showed results: Violence declined, and militants and ambivalent populations edged closer to supporting the Iraqi government (a process that began with the Anbar Awakening, before the surge). But it was not the panacea for which policymakers had hoped.

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Petraeus became known for his engagement with his troops as well. In addition to visits to troops under his command, he was known to email officers for supplementary reports to get a better sense of the conflict than tracking statistics alone would allow. The New York Times notes he was respected by troops, though at times grudgingly, for the amount of attention he drew. Here, Petraeus leads more than 1,100 servicemembers in the largest reenlistment ceremony ever conducted on July 4, 2008, in Baghdad.

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Above, Petraeus gives then-presidential candidate Barack Obama a tour of Baghdad by helicopter in July 2008. Just months before, Senator Obama had publicly lectured Petraeus about the war, telling him, "modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation ... is considered success. And it's not. This continues to be a disastrous foreign-policy mistake." This didn't stop Obama from trusting Petraeus with the war in Afghanistan and the CIA, though insiders have noted that the president tended to be more aloof with the general than with some of his other top officials.

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In October 2008, Petraeus passed command in Iraq to Gen. Raymond Odierno and took over CENTCOM, which oversees U.S. military operations throughout the greater Middle East. He also made high-profile public appearances, throwing the first pitch at the World Series and performing the coin toss at the Super Bowl in 2009 in Tampa.

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As the head of CENTCOM, Petraeus was responsible for U.S. military operations throughout the Middle East. Here he meets with Saudi Arabian Minister of Defense Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz on July 22, 2009, in Riyadh. Petraeus held the role for about a year and a half before being tapped to try to recreate his success in Iraq in the foundering war in Afghanistan.

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Petraeus took command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan on July 4, 2010 in Kabul. The transition took place after Gen. Stanley McChrystal was dismissed for comments seen as critical of President Obama in a Rolling Stone article.

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In Afghanistan, Petraeus attempted counterinsurgency again. Though part of his effort included attempts to negotiate with the Taliban, Ackerman notes, Petraeus increasingly drifted from his strategy's central tenets of nation-building and public engagement over potentially alienating tactics such as aerial bombing and night-time commando raids. But his penchant for deft media relations remained intact. While violence remained roughly constant, Petraeus continued to be a media darling, providing access to think-tank experts and journalists, including Broadwell.

Here, Petraeus works in his office in ISAF headquarters on Oct. 22, 2010, in Kabul.

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Here, Petraeus awards injured soldiers in the 101st Airborne Purple Hearts during a brief ceremony at Forward Base Wilson, on Oct. 7, 2010 west of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

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With little progress being made in Afghanistan, Petraeus had to make the case to British Prime Minister David Cameron to stay in the fight. Here Petraeus meets with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace before speaking with Cameron on March 22, 2011.

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After spending a little less than a year in Afghanistan, the revolving door of ISAF command turned again and Petraeus came back to Washington. Petraeus reportedly had his eyes on being chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but was turned down over White House concerns that he would fight the president's plan to wrap up the war in Afghanistan. Petraeus suggested director of the CIA instead. Here, he testifies at a hearing before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on June 23, 2011, while his wife Holly looks on.

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To take the top job at the CIA, Petraeus was asked to resign from the Army, a bittersweet moment for the military careerist. Here Petraeus stands with his family -- his son, Stephen, his daughter, Anne, his wife, Holly -- along with then Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullen as they applaud troops passing in review at his retirement ceremony on Aug. 31, 2011, at Fort Myer in Virginia.

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A week after his retirement ceremony, Petraeus was sworn in as director of the CIA. Here, he gives the oath, delivered by Vice President Joe Biden, while his wife holds a Bible, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, on Sept. 6, 2011. Though he was in frequent contact with Broadwell in Afghanistan, according to media reports, the affair began after he became CIA director. Some accounts have suggested that Petraeus, typically gregarious and eager to engage the press, felt stifled at the agency, and had Broadwell speak on his behalf.

http://In%20his%20year-long%20tenure%20as%20director%20of%20the%20CIA,%20Petraeus%20%20oversaw%20the%20prosecution%20of%20the%20war%20on%20terror%20from%20a%20new%20vantage%20point,%20and%20continued%20controversial%20policies%20that%20have%20increasingly%20militarized%20Amerca's%20spy%20agency.%20He%20proposed%20%20expanding%20the%20CIA's%20drone%20fleet%20to%20facilitate%20its%20strikes%20in%20Yemen%20and%20%20Pakistan,%20with%20the%20potential%20to%20expand%20to%20targets%20in%20North%20Africa%20--%20an%20effort%20that%20%20was%20checked%20%20by%20the%20Obama%20administration's%20counterterrorism%20czar,%20John%20Brennan.%20Above,%20Petraeus%20%20speaks%20during%20a%20national%20security%20meeting%20in%20the%20Situation%20Room%20of%20the%20White%20%20House%20on%20Sept.%2011,%202011.

In his year-long tenure as director of the CIA, Petraeus oversaw the prosecution of the war on terror from a new vantage point, and continued controversial policies that have increasingly militarized Amerca's spy agency. He proposed expanding the CIA's drone fleet to facilitate its strikes in Yemen and Pakistan, with the potential to expand to targets in North Africa -- an effort that was checked by the Obama administration's counterterrorism czar, John Brennan. Above, Petraeus speaks during a national security meeting in the Situation Room of the White House on Sept. 11, 2011.

http:// %20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20After%20his%20resignation%20was%20announced%20on%20Friday,%20President%20%20Obama%20issued%20a%20statement,%20saying,%20"By%20any%20measure,%20through%20his%20lifetime%20of%20%20service%20David%20Petraeus%20has%20made%20our%20country%20safer%20and%20stronger."%20Former%20aides%20%20and%20individuals%20close%20to%20Petraeus%20have%20told%20%20reporters%20that%20he%20felt%20somewhat%20lost%20and%20lonely%20outside%20the%20military,%20and%20wondered%20%20if%20this%20contributed%20to%20his%20lapse%20in%20judgment.%20Only%20one%20man%20knows%20the%20answer.

 

After his resignation was announced on Friday, President Obama issued a statement, saying, "By any measure, through his lifetime of service David Petraeus has made our country safer and stronger." Former aides and individuals close to Petraeus have told reporters that he felt somewhat lost and lonely outside the military, and wondered if this contributed to his lapse in judgment. Only one man knows the answer.

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