Monday 19 February 2018

Petraeus poised to lead CIA in major US reshuffle

Toby Harnden in Washington

US President Barack Obama is set to announce the biggest national security shake-up of his presidency, including naming General David Petraeus as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Gen Petraeus, widely viewed as the most accomplished military officer of his generation, will take over the CIA from Leon Panetta, a veteran Washington hand credited with stabilising the spy organisation.

Mr Panetta, a former California congressman and chief of staff to former US President Bill Clinton, is to become the new defence secretary, replacing Robert Gates, who was appointed by George W Bush in 2006 and has long made clear his wish to retire this year.

Mr Obama is believed to have persuaded Ryan Crocker, the career diplomat who paired with Gen Petraeus during the Iraq "surge" of 2007 that staved off a catastrophic defeat for the US, to come out of retirement to become ambassador to Afghanistan.

Dream team

It means that Mr Bush's Petraeus-Crocker "dream team" is likely to be re-established, albeit temporarily, in Kabul as Mr Obama's July deadline for the beginning of American troop withdrawals approaches.

The reshuffle means that Gen Petraeus will leave Kabul earlier than initially expected when he was appointed by Mr Obama after the firing of Gen Stanley McChrystal.

Gen Petraeus will be replaced by Gen John Allen of the US Marine Corps. Gen Allen was deputy marine commander in Iraq during the "Anbar Awakening" that accompanied the surge.

He has three masters degrees, once taught political science at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Some fear that the appointment of Gen Allen could leave a gap in knowledge of Afghanistan at the top of Nato at a critical juncture.

As a former Clinton administration stalwart, Mr Panetta is well-placed to build on the close relationship between Mr Gates and Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, which followed years of fractious tension between the Pentagon and the State Department. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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