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Analysis: Petraeus battles fears of CIA "militarization"

Sep 6, 2011, 4:05 a.m.
Lieutenant General David Petraeus testifies to the Senate Armed Forces Committee about his nomination to be general and commander of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq at a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this January, 23, 2007 file photo. Newly retired General David Petraeus is well aware that his swearing-in as the next director of the CIA, expected on September 6, 2011, might stoke concerns about the "militarization" of the U.S. spy agency. It was one of the reasons the storied battlefield commander hung up his uniform last week after a 37-year career in the Army. It may also be why he appears so intent on fulfilling a pledge to leave his military entourage -- "braintrusts" as he calls them -- behind when he arrives at the CIA's Langley, Virginia, compound. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files

"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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