The hard-earned victory in Iraq—and his savvy demeanor on Capitol Hill, in the media and with foreign leaders—catapulted Petraeus into a level of popularity and notoriety that few generals ever experience. Pete Hegseth and Wade Zirkle of Vets for Freedom have argued that he deserves a fifth star for his exceptional command and leadership during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, the two combat veterans argue that Petraeus’s wartime service and record are nearly unprecedented. They noted:
• That Petraeus “begins his eighth year as a combatant commander this year” and “will soon eclipse Washington’s tenure.” That’s George Washington.
• His résumé includes commanding the 101st Airborne during the initial invasion of Iraq, the creation of Iraq’s post-Baathist army, the development of the U.S. Army’s counterinsurgency manual, the execution of the surge that saved Iraq from civil war and defeated al Qaeda, leadership of CENTCOM during the two-front war in the Middle East, and leading the NATO-ISAF mission in Afghanistan, a command which came at great personal sacrifice, as Petraeus technically took a step down from CENTCOM.
“David Petraeus’ generalship has spanned 11 years, three presidents and seven Congresses. It is time to promote him to ‘General of the Army’ and award him a fifth star,” Hegseth and Zirkle concluded.
Petraeus probably won’t achieve that rarified rank now. But perhaps he will be able to extend his Midas touch even further, albeit more stealthily, at CIA than he could at CENTCOM or ISAF. The country would be fortunate if he does.
Alan W. Dowd writes on defense and security issues.
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