Monday, August 15, 2011

Gen. David Petraeus to Become Director of CIA

When Gen. David Petraeus assumes his duties as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in September, he will do so as someone uniquely qualified to lead the nation’s most prominent collector of foreign intelligence. The CIA is already a high-performing organization boasting talented and dedicated agents and analysts serving around the world. You can expect Director Petraeus to take the organization to even greater heights. This isn’t unabashed adulation, but simply where the Petraeus’ record points. Consider what some naysayers have suggested:

Petraeus will overstep his bounds or try to make policy on his own. Doubtful. Petraeus is always keenly aware of the limits of his authority. He is always loyal to his chain of command. He will try to persuade, he will work to impose his will, and he will be aggressive. But Petraeus will follow the rules and will find ways to operate within the authorities of his office.

The CIA won’t accept him because Petraeus is a military officer. The CIA consists of professionals who share the same ambition as does Petraeus – to succeed. They know full well how difficult it is to sustain their credibility in a dangerous world (not to mention the dangers of DC bureaucratic struggles). So they will have no problem at all welcoming Petraeus because he brings credibility demonstrated by a proven track record working the toughest national security challenges. And what many do not realize is the extent to which Petraeus integrated the work of intelligence professionals into his military decision-making as the top general in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Petraeus will try to ‘militarize’ the CIA. He won’t need to, and wouldn’t want to, either. Petraeus is the rare senior military officer that is very comfortable moving between cultures. Whether it is an elite university, an Army unit, or the CIA, Petraeus will adapt. He’s supremely confident in himself and his abilities. He will impose his priorities on the CIA, but he’ll do it smartly and creatively. Soon enough, the CIA will be embracing his changes.

The CIA isn’t a flawless organization. It’s big and faces such an array of national security challenges that it’s difficult to keep pace. But expect it to move forward aggressively under Petraeus’ leadership. And don’t heed the pundits who project that Petraeus is eager to enter the political ring. His focus will be on the CIA, and on providing and assessing intelligence to ensure the national security of the United States. There are other duties ahead of him – likely secretary of defense and/or state, director of national intelligence, or national security adviser. But political office isn’t on the horizon for him, not now, and likely not for a long while, if ever. Politicians, even presidents, wield their power for too short of a period. General, now director, Petraeus is playing a longer game.

----Bradley T. Gericke, PhD, is the author of David Petraeus: A Biography. Dr. Gericke is a military historian and U.S. Army strategist who is currently stationed with the 8th Army in Seoul, South Korea.


Bradley T. Gericke

This in-depth and forthright biography examines the personal and professional life of General David Petraeus, today's most prominent military leader.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with President Obama that David Petraeus is a good choice for the CIA directorship.

    You, Gen. Petraeus, President Obama and others should spare a half-hour of their time to read the section "slow hunches" on the FBI organization in Steven Johnson's book:

    Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History Of Innovation
    - 336 pages
    - Riverhead Hardcover; 1 edition (October 5, 2010)
    - ISBN10: 1594487715

    I think Johnson raises a valuable point there. I am actually curious to eventually read a thoughtful reply to his argument...