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Gen Petraeus retires, gears up to head CIA

Washington: Hailed as one of the best war time commanders of his generation, General David Petraeus, retired from the US Army as he prepares to take over as CIA chief.

Post 9/11, Petraeus emerged as the one of the best American generals who not only successfully lead the country`s forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in difficult times, but also is credited with writing the Army`s now-famous field manual on counterinsurgency, or in military parlance, "COIN."

Petraeus` last assignment was leading the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan; which he took over about a year ago and during this period he was successful in turning on the table against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Following his formal retirement ceremony, President Barack Obama congratulated General Petraeus "on an historic career of service in the United States Army, including extraordinary contributions to our national security in Iraq and Afghanistan," the White House said.

The President also welcomed General Petraeus` continued commitment to public service as he prepares to take on his new role as Director of CIA, it said.

In his remarks, 58-year-old Petraeus said the military is entering a difficult period. "The future requirements include maintaining pressure on al-Qaida, continuing to draw down in Iraq and commencing reductions in Afghanistan — all while sustaining our hard-fought, hard-won, but still-fragile progress in those areas," he said.

"This will be done, of course, against a backdrop of ongoing change in the Middle East and difficult budget decisions here at home," he said.

Rest, and you now stand among the giants not just in our time but of all time, joining the likes of Grant and Pershing and Marshall and Eisenhower as one of the great battle captains of American history," Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in his remarks at the ceremony.

"You`ve expanded our view of the possible, inspiring our military on to historic achievements during some of the most trying times America has ever known. And today you depart our ranks with the sincere thanks of a grateful nation," he said.

Deputy Defence Secretary William J Lynn, said the strategies Petraeus, who bid farewell marking the end of a 37-year military career, "employed in two theaters of war were developed quickly to confront new types of foes".

"He was extraordinarily effective as both a combat leader and a strategist," Lynn said.

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