General David H. Petraeus assumed command of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) on July 4, 2010 after serving for more than 20 months as Commander, United States Central Command.
Before his assignment as CENTCOM Commander, General Petraeus commanded Multi-National Force-Iraq where he led US and Coalition Forces during “the surge.” Prior to his tour as MNF-I Commander, he commanded the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, during which time he oversaw the development of the Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual. Before that assignment, he served for over 15 months as the first Commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq. That deployment to Iraq followed his command of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), during which he led the “Screaming Eagles” in combat during the fight to Baghdad and throughout the first year of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His command of the 101st followed a year deployed on Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia, where he was the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations of the NATO Stabilization Force and the Deputy Commander of the US Joint Counter-Terrorism Task Force-Bosnia. Prior to his tour in Bosnia, he spent two years at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, serving first as the Assistant Division Commander for Operations of the 82nd Airborne Division and then as the Chief of Staff of XVIII Airborne Corps.
General Petraeus was commissioned in the Infantry upon graduation as a “distinguished cadet” from the United States Military Academy in 1974. In addition to the posts noted above, he subsequently held leadership positions in airborne, mechanized, and air assault infantry units in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East, including command of a battalion in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and a brigade in the 82nd Airborne Division. In addition, he served in a number of staff assignments: Aide to the Chief of Staff of the Army; battalion, brigade, and division operations officer; Military Assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander-Europe; Chief of Operations of the United Nations Force in Haiti; and Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Petraeus was the General George C. Marshall Award winner as the top graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Class of 1983. He subsequently earned MPA and Ph.D. degrees in international relations from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and he later served as an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the US Military Academy. He also completed a fellowship at Georgetown University.
Awards and decorations earned by General Petraeus include two awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, the State Department Distinguished Service Award, the NATO Meritorious Service Medal, the Gold Award of the Iraqi Order of the Date Palm, the French Légion d’Honneur, the Polish Order of Merit, the Order of Australia, and the National Defense Cross of the Czech Republic. He is a Master Parachutist and Air Assault and Ranger qualified. He has also earned the Combat Action Badge and French, British, and German Jump Wings. In 2005 he was recognized by the U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s 25 Best Leaders, and in 2007 he was one of four runners-up for Time Person of the Year. In 2009, he was selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals and by Esquire magazine as one of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century. Most recently, he was awarded the George Kennan Award by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and the 2010 James Madison Medal by Princeton University.