Graduate Alum Profile
GENERAL DAVID H. PETRAEUS
MPA '85, PhD '87
Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency; General, U.S. Army-Retired
While Commanding General of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during its first year in Iraq (Mar. 2003–Feb. 2004), then-Major General David Petraeus earned high marks from the U.S. government, the media, and—most importantly—the people of northern Iraq for how the division helped Iraqis improve security and services in Iraq's four northern provinces. Helping him during the summer of 2003 were Colonels Mike Meese MPA ’90, MA ’91, PhD ’00 and Richard Lacquement MPA ’95, MA ’98, PhD ’00. Four months into his time in Mosul, Petraeus was joined by Herro Mustafa MPA ’97, then the Nineveh Province Coordinator for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Petraeus described her to one journalist as a true “national asset” and said that Mustafa, a fluent Arabic and Kurdish speaker, had to rank with the finest of America's foreign service officers.
In June 2004, Petraeus was promoted to Lieutenant General and returned to Iraq, this time to command Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq. These organizations are charged with the critical task of helping Iraq organize, train, and equip its now 350,000-strong security forces—army, navy, air force, police, border guards, customs police, and counterterrorist forces. In this capacity, he worked initially with David Gompert MPA ’73, the CPA's senior advisor to the Iraqi National Security Council; they built on the work of Walter Slocombe WWS ’63, who helped develop the CPA’s early plans for rebuilding the Iraqi military. Petraeus was assisted by Jeanne Hull MPA ’07 who, upon redeployment from Iraq, began her studies at WWS, and currently is continuing on in pursuit of a Ph.D. Petraeus also depended heavily on Colonel Chris King MPA ’92, his senior planner and the man Petraeus described as his “designated thinker.”
General Petraeus returned to Iraq in February 2007 for what promises to be the toughest assignment of his 33-year military career—command of Multi-National Force-Iraq. He is now responsible for the nearly 160,000 servicemen and servicewomen from the 25 Coalition nations that comprise Multi-National Force–Iraq as they execute the new strategy for Iraq—one designed to secure Iraq's people and thus provide Iraq's leaders the time and opportunity to focus on national reconciliation. He is executing this strategy in conjunction with Ambassador Ryan Crocker MCF ’85, a seasoned diplomat who pursued coursework in Near-Eastern Studies at Princeton from 1984-85. One of Petraeus’s first initiatives upon taking command was to take a fresh look at current policies; some of those involved in this effort included Colonel Meese, Department of Defense Fellow Ylber Bajraktari MPA ’06, and David Ranz MPP ’05, the economic advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Morocco.
Speaking of his time at WWS, Petraeus recalls, “I chose the Woodrow Wilson School over other schools of public policy because of the recommendations of others who were recent graduates of WWS, the School’s emphasis on teaching, and the importance the School attaches to public service. I chose the M.P.A. program because of the interdisciplinary nature of the coursework and because of the relevance of many of the courses to what I thought I might do in the military. In fact, the courses in international relations, security studies, and economics all have proved to be of considerable value, especially in recent years during missions of which I’ve been part in Haiti, Bosnia, Kuwait, and Iraq. Beyond that, my time at WWS clearly has opened a number of doors along the way that proved to be wonderful opportunities.
“Before heading to graduate school I suspected that, while at WWS, interactions with fellow students would prove stimulating; in truth, they proved to be even more so than I had anticipated. My years at Princeton were truly wonderful in every respect, and I remain indebted to the professors and staff of the School who helped make the experience so enjoyable and stimulating.”