David Petraeus Out As Commander In Afghanistan By End Of The Year?

The Times of London has the story:(most story content behind paywall)

General David Petraeus, the most celebrated American soldier of his generation, is to leave his post as commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan. The Times can reveal that the Pentagon aims to replace General Petraeus, who was appointed less than eight months ago, by the end of the year. Sources have confirmed that the search for a new commander in Kabul is under way. It forms part of a sweeping reorganisation of top American officials in Afghanistan, which the Obama Administration hopes to present as proof that its strategy does not depend on the towering reputation of one man.

If this is true, it’s definitely somewhat of a surprise.

via Twitter

UPDATE (James Joyner): Naturally, such thin reporting with such few details is generating rampant speculation.  Among the most interesting:

  • Petraeus is going to run for president. He has repeatedly denied this.
  • Petraeus is going to replace the retiring Bob Gates as Secretary of Defense. This would require him to retire, although RT thinks a “waiver” would do the trick.
  • Petraeus is going to replace Mike Mullen as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Reuters is among those reporting that speculation. It has the virtue of being plausible.
  • Petraeus is going to retire from the Army and do something that pays a hell of a lot more. That’s my speculation but much more likely than the first two.

UPDATE (James Joyner): The Pentagon is denying this report:

“Despite some sensational speculation by one of the London papers, I can assure you General Petraeus is not quitting as ISAF commander, but nor does he plan to stay in Afghanistan forever,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a statement. “Obviously he will rotate out at some point, but that point has not yet been determined and it will not occur anytime soon. Until then, he will continue to ably lead our coalition forces in Afghanistan.”

Earlier in the day, the Washington Post reported that Petraeus, who took command last July, will rotate out of Afghanistan before the end of the year.

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said he had not heard anything about Petraeus leaving and would be “totally floored” if it were true. ”I was just there [in Afghanistan] a couple of weeks ago,” McKeon said in a brief interview with TPM. “He’s doing a fantastic job there.”

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Military Affairs, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ben Wolf says:

    No surprise that a man of limited strategic insight, adhereing to the long-ago discredited doctrine of counter-insurgency should be replaced. The surprise is that Obama recognIzed Petraeus’ failure so quickly.

  2. legion says:

    Well, the standard tour of duty for someone is his position is typically 2 years, so this isn’t actually terribly shocking. Especially if the administration already knows who they want to replace him with, this could very well be in the normal window for matching assignments…

  3. Tano says:

    I’ve always assumed that he would be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.He has an enormous reputation in DC, an acute political sense, and he would be a great asset for any president to have at his side.

  4. Bruce T says:

    Since this side-note to the Grossman appointment story is being denied everywhere, maybe the other side-note is worthy of a mention.

  5. Ben Wolf says:

    The Pentagon is now denying the report? As I said, it would have come as a surprise Obama had recognized and relieved the man, because in Rome, er, Washington people fail upward.

    The establishment will always double down on incompetence.

  6. Brummagem Joe says:

    Well the Pentagon would deny it wouldn’t they? I’ve always assumed Petraeus was going to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs and if there’s any truth in the story at all I suspect this is the endgame. The make a quick buck scenario doesn’t sttrike me as particularly credible. Whenever Petraeus retires he can walk into any number of board rooms and pick up a $10 million book deal.