Sunday, January 21, 2007

Petraeus Profile

An interesting profile of General David Petraeus, the new commander of American forces in Iraq. An excerpt:

Petraeus has been assiduous in matching his reputation as a field soldier with his reputation as an intellect. He not only earned a doctorate from Prince ton's Woodrow Wilson School--writing on the effects of the Vietnam war on civil-military relations--but also keeps himself maniacally fit. The speed of his recovery from a gunshot wound received on a rifle range when he was commanding a battalion in the 101st Airborne is legendary. (The wound required a five-hour operation--performed by Dr. Bill Frist.)

Further, Petraeus is coming off a successful tenure as head of the Army's Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth. While this job took a winning commander away from his war at a crucial moment, it has helped Petraeus polish his institutional credentials in a way that will now serve him well. The main efforts during his 15 months in Kansas were the recasting of Army training for counterinsurgency operations and the creation of a new counterinsurgency field manual. The manual has gotten tremendous attention and is now quoted in every profile of Petraeus, but he sagely conceived the new doctrine as process more than product, as dialogue more than decalogue. Petraeus brought in not only a good number of academics and experts, but Marines as well as soldiers. The manual is, importantly, a two-service publication, and Petraeus worked well with Marine Lieutenant General James Mattis--another tremendously successful commander in Iraq, a serious thinker, and a folk hero to Marines. Mattis's message to Iraqis was that they could have "no better friend, no worse enemy" than the Marines. Petraeus will be sending a similar message to Baghdadis.

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