Ending your career with a thud

It wasn’t so long ago that there was a boomlet to see General David Petraeus promoted to General of the Army:

A Fifth Star for David Petraeus

The general clearly deserves to join the rank held by MacArthur, Marshall and Nimitz. His promotion would also honor our troops and their mission in the war on terror.
hegseth By Pete Hegseth and Wade Zirkle

Like these great leaders, Gen. Petraeus’s breadth of experience and outstanding results deserve to be recognized and honored. His wartime tenure began as the Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division, responsible for over 10,000 combat troops during the initial invasion of Iraq. He led the 101st in an airborne assault into northern Iraq and then quieted the city of Mosul.

Gen. Petraeus then oversaw the creation and training of the new Iraqi Army, a Herculean task that was accomplished amid a rapidly deteriorating security situation. By the time he was through, he had stood up, equipped and trained over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers. They would be crucial in winning the peace in the years to follow.

In 2005, Gen. Petraeus led the Army’s command responsible for education and doctrine at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. There he wrote the Army’s manual on counterinsurgency operations. His COIN manual was the blueprint for the upcoming troop “surge” that saved Iraq from the brink of calamity.

Your Editor wrote, at the time:

Well, I can think of one good reason to grant General Petraeus a fifth star: the way that four stars are worn on the black Army beret looks like crap! Enlisted men wear their branch insignia in the blue field on the beret, while officers wear their rank insignia there. For a Brigadier General and lower, it works, but as the stars get stretched out starting with Major Generals, it looks bad!

Then again, the whole beret thing looks like crap.

At any rate, your Editor thought that, as a whole, the idea of promoting General Petraeus to General of the Army was a bad idea:

Part of me likes the idea, and part does not. The part that likes the idea does so because it would be a great honor, both for General Petraeus and the soldiers serving under him in Afghanistan. The fact that it would tweak the anti-war idiots at MoveOn.org who called him “General Betray Us” doesn’t hurt in the slightest. :)

The part that doesn’t notes that the theater commanders who were awarded five stars (Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Hap Arnold and Chester Nimitz) were awarded those ranks after their service chiefs (George C Marshall and Ernest King) were promoted to five-star rank. If promoted, General of the Army Petraeus would outrank his commander, General James Mattis, the Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Casey, and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen and General James Cartwright (USMC).1

It’s an honor he does deserve, but it might be more of a problem than it’s worth.

Instead, General Petraeus was nominated by President Obama to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency2 on April 11, 2011, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate on June 30, 2011. He retired from the Army just before assuming his duties with the CIA. From Wikipedia:

Petraeus’ tenure at the CIA was more low profile than that of his predecessor, Leon Panetta, declining to give media interviews while Director and speaking to Congress in closed sessions. He also differed from Panetta in mangagement style, as a New York Times article published just days before his resignation said Panetta “wooed the work force and often did not question operational details, [while] Petraeus is a demanding boss who does not hesitate to order substandard work redone or details of plans adjusted.”

Although Petraeus was given good marks by most observers for his work heading the CIA, during October 2012 some critics took issue with the availability of accurate information from the CIA concerning a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya the month prior. On September 11 four Americans had been killed, including the Ambassador, and more than thirty evacuated. Only seven of those evacuated did not work for the CIA. According to a Wall Street Journal story, other government agencies complained about being left “largely in the dark about the CIA’s role,” with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoning Petraeus directly the night of the attacks seeking assistance. Although the “State Department believed it had a formal agreement with the CIA to provide backup security,” “the CIA didn’t have the same understanding about its security responsibilities,” said the WSJ.

And then, thud! Dr Petraeus3 had become romantically involved with Paula Broadwell, who co-authored All In: The Education of General David Petraeus4 sometime previously, and that affair has now been exposed. Like Dr Petraeus, Mrs Broadwell is married, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve three months ago.

This is just incredibly stupid: General Petraeus and Lieutenant Colonel Broadwell knew full well that adultery is a crime under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The bringing of charges under Article 134 is rare, because the conduct must meet the standard of being prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces or of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces. According to The Washington Post, the disclosure of the affair began with threatening e-mails allegedly sent by LTC Broadwell to another woman who was “close” to GEN Petraeus, thinking that this other woman might be somehow threatening her relationship with the Director, but the article does not state that this other woman was romantically involved with him; it does state that this other woman is not associated with the CIA. With as public a figure as GEN Petraeus being involved, and accusations that LTC Broadwell was given access to the Director’s e-mail, and possible security breaches due to this, Article 134 has to apply.

Of course, it won’t. The results of this affair will simply be career destruction. General Petraeus is no longer subject to the UCMJ anyway, even though it is virtually certain that part of the affair was conducted while he was still in uniform. Lieutenant Colonel Broadwell will resign her commission, and (probably) lose her job. Dr Petraeus has lost a job he found “intellectually challenging” and “loved,” but having retired as a full general with 37 years of service, he’ll receive slightly over $150,000 per year in retirement pay.

Both Dr Petraeus and Mrs Broadwell were graduated from the United States Military Academy. You cannot be a dummy and get into West Point, and you certainly can’t be anything other than intelligent to be graduated from West Point. But it seems that being smart doesn’t keep you from being just plain, fornicating stupid.
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  1. Those were the officers holding those positions at the time the article was written; the top command structure has since changed.
  2. The Director of the CIA was formerly known as the Director of Central Intelligence, who had duties beyond running the CIA; he was also the primary intelligence adviser to the President and National Security Council, and coordinated the efforts of the other intelligence gathering agencies in the government. Since April of 2005, that position has been replaced by the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the CIA runs the CIA itself.
  3. David Petraeus holds a PhD in International Relations from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, awarded in 1987.
  4. You may buy the book at the amazon.com link provided; THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL does not receive any commission for this notice.

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