Gen. David Petraeus to Turn Over Command in Afghanistan on Monday

Jul 16, 2011 7:30am

ap david petraeus 101206 main Gen. David Petraeus to Turn Over Command in Afghanistan on Monday

ABC News' Luis Martinez (@lmartinezabc)

This Monday, Gen. David Petraeus will bring to a close another chapter in his distinguished military career when he turns over command of all NATO forces in Afghanistan to his successor Lt. Gen. John Allen.  Sometime this summer he will retire from the Army and in early September he will take over as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Considered the most influential general of this generation, Petraeus has served the past year as the commander of the 100,000 US troops and 47,000 NATO troops currently serving in Afghanistan. 

It was a command he did not seek, but necessitated by the sudden departure last June of Gen. Stanley McChrystal  who resigned his post following the controversy that followed the controversial remarks his staffers had made to Rolling Stone magazine.

Petraeus did not hesitate in accepting President Obama’s surprise offer to replace McChrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan.

See what Petraeus told troops when he assumed command in Afghanistan.

Renowned for his success in turning around the military situation in Iraq, Petraeus went to Afghanistan to continue a similar counterinsurgency strategy implemented by McChrystal.

As Petraeus prepares to leaves to leave Afghanistan it remains unclear whether that strategy will ultimately succeed as NATO begins a transition to turn over security responsibilities in the country by the end of 2014.

The addition of 33,000 surge troops last year enabled NATO to push into Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan.  

Despite the security gains in the south, Petraeus still characterizes the overall security situation in Afghanistan as fragile and reversible.  That’s mainly due to the Taliban’s continued strength in other parts of the country, particularly in eastern Afghanistan.

Regardless, the security transition has begun as the slow process of turning over security responsibilities   to Afghan forces has begun in seven areas of the country. 

With President Obama setting a timetable for the surge troops to leave Afghanistan by September, 2012, the reduction of forces has already begun.  Just this week,  650 soldiers from an Iowa National Guard unit left Afghanistan without being replaced.  They are the first of the 10,000 troops to be drawn down this year. 

Lt. Gen. Allen will oversee the rest of the reduction of US forces.   Allen will be one of several new faces to the military and civilian team leading the US effort in Afghanistan.

This past Monday, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez turned over the control of the day-to-day NATO operations of the war in Afghanistan to Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti.   Rodriguez had been serving in that capacity since he arrived with McChrystal in July, 2009.

On the civilian side, veteran diplomat Ryan Crocker will replace Karl Eikenberry as the new US Ambassador to Afghanistan.

Petraeus is returning to the US to succeed Leon Panetta who recently became Defense Secretary

In order to take over at the CIA, Petraeus will retire his commission after 37 years of active duty service in the Army.

At his confirmation hearing to be CIA Director, Petraeus told senators “I wanted this job” and that leading the agency "would be a tremendous honor and a tremendous privilege."

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