Biography

David H. Petraeus is a retired four-star Army general and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In addition to various business and academic pursuits, he has been a non-resident senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs since 2013, working with former Center Director Graham Allison and Kennedy School students to explore renewed U.S. and North American competitiveness, strategic leadership, and a variety of international security issues.

Petraeus served as CIA director from September 2011 to November 2012. Prior to that, he spent 37 years in the Army, culminating his career with six consecutive commands as a general officer, five of which were in combat, including roles as commander of U.S. and international military forces in Afghanistan, commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), and commanding general of the multi-national force in Iraq during the surge.

In addition to his Belfer Center fellowship, Petraeus has engaged in a variety of endeavors since leaving government. These include serving as a partner with the international investment firm KKR (where he is also chairman of the KKR Global Institute), teaching as a Visiting Professor at the Macaulay Honors College of CUNY from 2013 through 2016, holding a Judge Widney Chair at the University of Southern California, serving on the board of Optiv (a global cybersecurity firm), engaging in personal venture capital activities, and supporting the Royal United Services Institute (Senior Vice-President), the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars (Co-Chair of the Global Advisory Council), the Institute for the Study of War (board member), and the Atlantic Council (board member), as well as more than a dozen veterans service organizations.

Petraeus holds a PhD from an interdisciplinary program in international relations and economics from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. He was among the top graduates in his class at West Point in 1974, where he subsequently served as an assistant professor of international relations and economics, and he graduated first in the US Army Command and General Staff College class of 1983. He later was also a fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

Over the past dozen years, General Petraeus has been named one of America’s 25 Best Leaders by the U.S. News and World Report, a runner-up for Time magazine’s Person of the Year, the Daily Telegraph man of the year, a Time 100 selectee, and one of Foreign Policy magazine’s top 100 public intellectuals. He is a frequent commentator on global security and economic issues, and also was Co-Chairman in 2013-2014 of a Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on North America. In recent years, his pieces have been published in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy, and he has also appeared frequently on The Charlie Rose Show and various TV news programs and documentaries.

Petraeus has received numerous U.S. military, State Department, NATO and United Nations medals and awards, including four Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Combat Action Badge, the Ranger tab, and master parachutist wings. He has also been decorated by 13 foreign countries.

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2017, 2:35pm

Awards