“America and the World”: A talk by General David H. Petraeus (US Army – Retired)
General David H. Petraeus (US Army – Retired) gave the Ambassador Dave and Kay Phillips Family International Lecture on 11 September 2013 at Duke University. General Petraeus (ret) served as the leading military commander in Iraq from February 2007 — September 2008, then of US Central Command from October 2008 — June 2010, and in Afghanistan July 2010 — July 2011. Serving as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2011-2012 he oversaw important accomplishments in the global war on terror, a major effort to increase the number of personnel engaged in ‘global coverage,’ and a comprehensive effort to craft a strategic campaign plan for the Agency through 2020.
During his visit to Duke University on 11 September 2013, General Petraeus (ret)met with Duke students and fellows to discuss contemporary policy and national security issues, such as Syria, along with candid remarks about his tenure as commander in various military and civilian posts. AGS provided students with the opportunity to engage Gen. Petraeus (ret) directly in a small group setting.
Duke’s Counterterrorism and Public Policy (CTPP) Fellows along with their TISS-UNC counterparts, the National Security Fellows, also met with Gen. Petraeus (ret) to discuss the strategic interests in American foreign policy and for the military.
In his public talk with Dr. Peter Feaver, director of the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy, Gen. Petraeus (ret) discussed some controversial decisions and policy choices about Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. On a historic day, the 12th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks, Gen. Petraeus (ret) spoke to a full house in Page Auditorium about America and the world then and now.
Gen. David H. Petraeus (US Army, Retired)
General David H. Petraeus served 37 years in the U.S. military, including as commander of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and as commander of the U.S. Central Command. Following retirement from the military in August 2011, he served for 14 months as the director of the CIA. He is now the chairman of KKR Global Institute, a visiting professor of public policy at CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, a Judge Widney Professor at the University of Southern California and a member of the advisory boards of several veterans’ organizations.
General Petraeus was born and raised in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. He was commissioned as an infantry officer following graduation with distinction from the U.S. Military Academy in 1974. 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 and subsequently earned MPA and Ph.D. degrees in international relations from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He later taught international relations and economics as an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy and completed a fellowship at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
During his military career, General Petraeus served in Cold War Europe, the United States, Central America, Haiti, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. In the decade that followed the 9-11 attacks, he was deployed for nearly seven years, culminating his career with six straight commands, five of which were in combat.
General Petraeus commanded the 101st Airborne Division during the fight to Baghdad in 2003 and throughout the first year in Iraq, during which the division was noted for having achieved a unique degree of success through a comprehensive counterinsurgency approach. He returned to Iraq in June 2004, having left only a few months earlier, to establish and lead both the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq, completing that tour in September 2005.
General Petraeus is most widely known for his role in the subsequent several years. Following his second tour in Iraq, he oversaw significant improvements in the U.S. Army’s preparation of leaders and units for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, including guiding the development of the Army/Marine Corps field manual on counterinsurgency. He then returned to Iraq to command the surge and guide the implementation of the counterinsurgency manual’s concepts. During his 19-1/2 months at the helm of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, violence was reduced by 90%, Iraqi forces were reformed and expanded and transition of tasks to Iraqi forces was commenced. After returning from Iraq, General Petraeus took command of the U.S. Central Command, overseeing the operations of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central and South Asia.
In early July 2010, General Petraeus deployed again, this time to command the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. During the subsequent year, the momentum of the Taliban was halted, development of the Afghan Security Forces was accelerated and transition of tasks to Afghan forces was begun, all while preventing the reestablishment of the kind of al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Afghanistan that existed when the 9-11 attacks were planned there.
Following retirement from the military, General Petraeus served as the director of the CIA, leading the agency during a period that saw significant achievements in the global counterterrorism effort, initiation of a comprehensive strategic plan to guide the agency, conduct of an effort to increase worldwide intelligence coverage, establishment of the Economic Security Center and commencement of a number of initiatives to increase the agency’s investments in its human capital.
General Petraeus has received numerous U.S. military, State Department, NATO and United Nations awards and decorations. He also has been decorated by 12 foreign countries. He is married to the former Hollister Knowlton, who serves as an assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They have two children.