Members of the US Navy pose with 2015 Honoree of the Year General David Petraeus, USA (Ret.)

2015 Phelps Award Recipient General David H. Petraeus

General David H. Petraeus (U.S. Army, Retired)

General David H. Petraeus (U.S. Army, Retired) is a Partner with the global financial investment firm KKR and the Chairman of the KKR Global Institute. He is also a Visiting Professor of Public Policy at the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College, a Judge Widney Professor at the University of Southern California, a non-resident Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Honorary Visiting Professor of the Strategy and Security Institute at the University of Exeter, and a member of the advisory boards of several veterans organizations. General Petraeus previously served over 37 years in the U.S. military, after which he served as the Director of the CIA.

General Petraeus was born and raised in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. He was commissioned an infantry officer following graduation with distinction from the U.S. Military Academy in 1974. Later in his career, he was the General George C. Marshall Award winner as the top graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College class of 1983, and he subsequently earned Masters and Ph.D. degrees in international relations from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He later taught international relations and economics as an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy and completed a fellowship at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

During his military career, General Petraeus served in Cold War Europe, the United States, Central America, Haiti, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In the decade that followed the 9/11 attacks, he was deployed for some 6-1/2 years, culminating his career with six straight commands, five of which were in combat.

General Petraeus commanded the 101st Airborne Division during the fight to Baghdad in 2003 and throughout the first year in Iraq, during which the Division was noted for having achieved a unique degree of success through a comprehensive counterinsurgency approach.

He returned to Iraq in June 2004, having left only a few months earlier, to establish and lead both the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq, completing that tour in September 2005 after initiating substantial programs to train and equip Iraqi forces.

General Petraeus is most widely known for his roles in the subsequent several years. On returning to the United States following his second tour in Iraq, he oversaw significant improvements in the U.S. Army’s preparation of leaders and units for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, including guiding the development of the Army/Marine Corps field manual on counterinsurgency. He then returned to Iraq to command the Surge and guide the implementation of the counterinsurgency manual’s concepts. During his 19-1/2-months at the helm of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, violence was reduced by some 90%, Iraqi forces were reformed and expanded, and transition of tasks to Iraqi forces was advanced considerably.

After returning from Iraq in the fall of 2008, General Petraeus took command of the U.S. Central Command, overseeing the operations of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central and South Asia, including in Yemen and Pakistan, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In early July 2010, General Petraeus deployed again, this time to command the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. During the subsequent year, the momentum of the Taliban was halted, development of the Afghan Security Forces was accelerated, and transition of tasks to Afghan forces was begun, all while preventing the reestablishment of the Al Qaeda sanctuaries in Afghanistan that existed when the 9/11 attacks were planned there.

Following retirement from the military, General Petraeus served as the Director of the CIA, leading the Agency during a period that saw significant achievements in the global counter-terrorism effort, initiation of a comprehensive strategic plan to guide the Agency, conduct of an effort to increase worldwide human intelligence coverage, establishment of the Agency’s Economic Security Center, and commencement of a number of initiatives to increase the Agency’s investments in its human capital.

General Petraeus has received numerous U.S. military, State Department, NATO, and United Nations awards and decorations. He also has been decorated by 13 foreign countries.