He has a wealth of experience on the battlefield. But for Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, his next act will likely involve the secretive and bureaucratic intrigue of being the nation’s top spy.
While the job switch — which will likely occur in early September — means both change and challenges, administration officials and national security insiders say it won’t be as dramatic a shift as it seems.
“In a sense he’s staying on the battlefield, just changing uniforms,” Gen. David Barno, a former commander in Afghanistan, told National Journal.
Observers point to the all-encompassing presence and power of intelligence increasingly coupled with boots on the ground in areas such as Afghanistan.
“As a lifelong consumer of intelligence, he knows that intelligence must be timely, accurate and acted upon quickly,” said President Barack Obama when he announced the move today. “He understands that staying a step ahead of nimble adversaries requires sharing and coordinating information, including with my director of national intelligence, Jim Clapper.”
But the CIA’s thicket of bureaucracy will likely pose challenges, too.
“Petraeus, a master of systems management, is about to step into a dysfunctional bureaucratic hall of mirrors that may include congressional hearings,” as National Journal shrewdly put it.
Still, Petraeus is widely credited with shaking things up in Iraq and Afghanistan — and could bring that disruptively creative style of leadership to the CIA.
“Just as General Petraeus changed the way that our military fights and wins wars in the 21st century, I have no doubt that Director Petraeus will guide our intelligence professionals as they continue to adapt and innovate in an ever-changing world,” the president said today.