The Military Legacy of David Petraeus

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When David Petraeus retires from the Army at the end of this month to take the helm at the CIA, he’ll leave behind a radically different fighting force from what existed even a decade ago. As Joe writes in this week’s issue of TIME, Petraeus, the intellectual force behind the counter-insurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaves a lasting mark on the armed forces that has less to do with the mixed results COIN has produced, and more to do with a military that is better trained to handle the chaotic and culturally complex conflicts of the 21st century. A taste:

Petraeus was acting on what he calls a “really big idea”: full-spectrum warfare, which added COIN to the mix of traditional offensive and defensive operations. At Fort Leavenworth, home to a required one-year graduate-school program for majors, Petraeus added courses in COIN and Islamic culture, plus a Pashtu- or Arabic-language elective, to the traditional curriculum in strategy, tactics and logistics. “We did that throughout the Army,” Petraeus says. “Every soldier gets that now.

To read the whole thing, pick up a copy of the magazine on newsstands Friday or subscribe to read online.