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Analysis: Petraeus battles fears of CIA "militarization"

Sep 5, 2011, 10:07 p.m.
U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commanding general of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), delivers remarks before he administers the oath of re-affirmation and re-enlistment to U.S. service members at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar July 4, 2011. REUTERS/Haraz N. Ghanbari/U.S.

"There are always a few vacancies when one director leaves, and General Petraeus is working with the rest of the agency's leadership team to fill those," the official said.

One example is the post of CIA director of congressional affairs. When the last CIA director, Leon Panetta, left the agency to become defense secretary in July, the person who held that post also went to the Pentagon to fill a top job.

Petraeus' supporters say the veteran military leader, known for his political savvy and sharp intellect -- he holds a doctoral degree from Princeton -- is more than capable of succeeding as CIA director.

Still, the obstacles facing him are daunting. The CIA recently completed an updated "District Assessment on Afghanistan," which remains classified.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, citing one military official, said the document used the word "stalemate" to describe the conflict and did not adhere to U.S. military claims that the Taliban's momentum had been reversed.

Petraeus, in his Army retirement speech on August 31, cited "progress against al Qaeda and the reversal of Taliban momentum in Afghanistan."

That is not Petraeus' only challenge. He is expected as CIA director to embrace the campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan, a nominally covert CIA operation that has fueled anti-American sentiment but put heavy pressure on militant safe havens.

But continuing or stepping up drone attacks risks further straining relations between the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.

(Additional reporting by Toby Zakaria; Editing by Todd Eastham)

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