General Petraeus Retiring From Army Prior To Taking Over At CIA

Via The Navy Times comes news that General David Petraeus will bring his military career to an end prior to stepping up to head the Central Intelligence Agency:

David Petraeus, America’s best-known general and the wartime model of a soldier-scholar-statesman, is retiring as arguably the most consequential Army leader of his generation.

Petraeus is bidding an official farewell to the Army on Wednesday and then opening a new chapter as director of the CIA, where he will try to keep up the pressure on al-Qaida and other terrorist groups plotting attacks from havens in Pakistan and beyond. He is to be sworn in as the nation’s spy chief on Sept. 6, less than one week before the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.


Although he could have stayed in uniform at CIA, Petraeus, 58, chose to shed it to avoid what some might see as the militarization of intelligence.

“I have a certain profile in various parts of the world,” he told the Pentagon Channel in an interview Aug. 18. “And were I to travel there in uniform, it might create some confusion, frankly, as, you know, ‘Who is this guy? He’s still in uniform. Is he the director of the CIA or is he actually something else?'”

Not an entirely surprising decision considering that further advancement within the military was unlikely at this point.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Military Affairs, National Security, Quick Takes,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds 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.


  1. James Joyner says:

    Also, he gets two paychecks this way. And I swear we knew this months ago; it may just have been rumored at the time.

  2. Jay Tea says:

    I would be troubled by the idea of an active-duty military officer serving as head of the CIA. As much as I trust and respect Petraeus (he has a home not far from me), I don’t like making exceptions.


  3. James Joyner says:

    @Jay Tea: Many if not most CIA directors have been serving flag officers. General Michael Hayden was on active duty when he served in that capacity from 2006 to 2009.

  4. Jay Tea says:

    @James Joyner: I don’t recall saying so publicly at the time, James, but I don’t think that was a good thing, either. “Too many hats” and all that. I’m probably a bit more vocal about it now because Petraeus is much more high-profile than Hayden was.

    Well that, and because Petraeus is a citizen of New Hampshire… his legal residence is about 20 miles from mine.