Pe­traeus shone bright­est in war on ter­ror

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

The fall of David H. Pe­traeus as the na­tion’s spy chief was the re­sult of a se­ri­ous fail­ure of judg­ment, but it will never erase his long record as a mil­i­tary com­man­der who turned the tide of the war in Iraq and set up new tac­tics for killing Is­lamic ter­ror­ists, his friends and mil­i­tary ob­servers say.

Mr. Pe­traeus is telling friends that his af­fair with his bi­og­ra­pher, Paula Broad­well, be­gan af­ter he had left the Army and three months af­ter he took over the CIA in Septem­ber 2011. He has as­serted to as­so­ci­ates that it was his only ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair in more than 30 years of mar­riage.

Re­tired Army Col. Peter Man­soor, his wartime ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, said that one in­dis­cre­tion should not over­ride years of mil­i­tary achieve­ments.

“In the long run, Gen. Pe­traeus will be re­mem­bered pri­mar­ily for his per­for­mance in Iraq, par­tic­u­larly through the surge of 2007 and 2008, when he helped to turn around a war that was all but lost,” Mr. Man­soor told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “In the long run, his per­sonal fail­ings with this af­fair will be a blip on his oth­er­wise stel­lar record of pub­lic ser­vice.”

For­mer Rep. Dun­can Hunter, a Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can who served as chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee and him­self a for­mer Army of­fi­cer, wrote a book about how the U.S. won in Iraq and about Mr. Pe­traeus’ unique tal­ents.

“My im­age of Pe­traeus is he ex­hib­ited all the abil­i­ties and tal­ents of a clas­sic mil­i­tary of­fi­cer who comes out of the in­fantry and ends up play­ing a large role, not only in mil­i­tary lead­er­ship, but in diplo­matic di­men­sion,” said Mr. Hunter, whose son won his House seat and now serves on the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee.

Ob­servers said Mr. Pe­traeus, 60, set an ex­am­ple of how a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer should deftly fight an un­pop­u­lar war over­seas and nav­i­gate the po­lit­i­cally di­vided halls of Congress in Wash­ing­ton.

He also ex­er­cised po­lit­i­cal skills that ran­kled lead­ers in the Pen­tagon: Mr. Pe­traeus was not afraid to ig­nore the chain of com­mand and go di­rectly to the White House or con­gres­sional lead­ers with a re­quest.

“Just about ev­ery­one re­gards him as po­lit­i­cal,” said Stephen Bid­dle, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity. “He’s ob­vi­ously very po­lit­i­cally so­phis­ti­cated, as gen­eral of­fi­cers go.”

Iraq, the surge and be­yond

Mr. Pe­traeus, who spent 37 years in the Army, was a West Point grad­u­ate who mar­ried the su­per­in­ten­dent’s daugh­ter, Holly, then pro­ceeded to ace ev­ery aca­demic and com­mand chal­lenge, cul­mi­nat­ing in his most fa­mous as­sign­ments.

Amid the long re­sume sits a four-year stint re­volv­ing around the Iraq War that changed Amer­i­can his­tory and pro­pelled Mr. Pe­traeus to the pedestal of the na­tion’s most fa­mous field gen­eral, a mod­ern-day Dou­glas MacArthur or Dwight D. Eisen­hower. Those gen­er­als fought on con­ven­tional bat­tle­fields against an en­emy in uni­form and in for­ma­tion.

In Iraq, the en­emy, a mix of al Qaeda-linked mil­i­tants and Sad­dam Hus­sein loy­al­ists, hid in plain sight. They used sui­cide bombs and buried ex­plo­sives to kill hun­dreds of civil­ians and Amer­i­can troops. And they seemed un­stop­pable.

Mr. Pe­traeus’ ed­u­ca­tion on Iraq be­gan with the 2003 U.S.-led in­va­sion. Com­mand­ing the 101st Air­borne Division, he led a charge through south­ern Iraq to Bagh­dad, then moved his sol­diers north to over­see the oil-pro­duc­ing city of Mo­sul. He com­mented then to re­porters that he did not know how an Amer­i­can oc­cu­pa­tion of a Mus­lim coun­try would turn out.

Within a year, he and the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion found out. A ro­bust, deadly in­sur­gency rose up as Mr. Pe­traeus shifted to the job of train­ing and re­build­ing an Iraqi mil­i­tary.

By 2006, he turned scholar, com­mand­ing the Army’s such as the United States, but the process is a big leap for emerg­ing and am­bi­tious maritime as­pi­rants such as China.

PLA of­fi­cials who spoke to re­porters in China over the week­end dur­ing the on­go­ing 18th Party Congress con­firmed that the Liaon­ing will be used as a train­ing ship for fu­ture air­craft car­ri­ers.

China is build­ing at least two more car­ri­ers in its Shang­hai ship­yard, ac­cord­ing to pub­lished re­ports. Com­bined Arms Cen­ter at Fort Leav­en­worth in Kansas. He took on a task that ul­ti­mately would re­sult in vic­tory and fame, and he over­saw the rewrit­ing of Army doc­trine on how to fight an in­sur­gency.

Mean­while, one of his men­tors, re­tired Army Gen. Jack Keane, was lob­by­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion to surge more forces into Iraq or risk los­ing the war. Mr. Bush agreed and tapped Mr. Pe­traeus for a fourth star and com­mand of Iraq.

A cen­tral com­po­nent of the plan was to win over the pop­u­la­tion by tak­ing U.S. troops out of for­ward oper­at­ing bases and putting them in neigh­bor­hood se­cu­rity sta­tions side by side with Iraqis. By the fall of 2007, the surge showed signs of suc­cess. The num­ber of en­emy at­tacks be­gan to drop.

“Pe­traeus ex­e­cuted the surge, a crit­i­cal eight months, su­perbly,” Mr. Hunter said. “He started set­tling down Bagh­dad.”

En­try into es­pi­onage

That fall, Mr. Pe­traeus flew to Wash­ing­ton to con­front a bit­terly di­vided Congress.

The left-wing group Moveon. org greeted him with an ad in The New York Times ac­cus­ing him of be­tray­ing his coun­try.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat, pro­nounced the war “lost” just as the surge was start­ing to work. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, then a U.S. se­na­tor from New York, called Mr. Pe­traeus’ tes­ti­mony a “will­ing sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief.”

“He did not re­act emo­tion­ally to that,” Mr. Man­soor said. “He re­al­ized this is a process that needed to go for­ward. He dealt with a di­vided Congress in a very pro­fes­sional man­ner. Fu­ture mil­i­tary of­fi­cers would have a lot to learn by study­ing his per­for­mance in that re­gard.”

Mr. Bid­dle said Mr. Pe­traeus set an­other stan­dard, this one in the way a com­man­der at­tacks an in­sur­gency.

By 2007, Joint Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand, cou­pled with var­i­ous spy as­sets and per­son­nel, had be­come ex­pert at find­ing and killing ter­ror­ist cell lead­ers. Mr. Pe­traeus ob­served that killing mil­i­tant lead­ers led to fewer in­sur­gent at­tacks.

“I sus­pect his rea­son for be­ing will­ing to take the CIA job is that he was be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­pressed with what you could ac­com­plish by tak­ing out spe­cific in­di­vid­ual en­emy lead­ers, as op­posed to ei­ther de­stroy­ing large en­emy for­ma­tions or pro­tect­ing large bod­ies of civil­ians,” Mr. Bid­dle said. “These things aren’t mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive. By dis­rupt­ing en­emy lead­er­ship, you both re­duce the ef­fec­tive­ness of their rank and file, and there­fore, you help de­fend the pop­u­la­tion.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.