A Black Hawk View on Bin Laden (Page 5 of 5)

You’ve had a long career in the military. From your experience and viewpoint, does it make sense for the head of the CIA to now be a military general, and for the new head of the Defence Department to come from heading up the civilian CIA?

I think both their records are incredible, and Gen. David Petraeus is, I think, the closest thing that our generation has seen of a ‘George Marshall’ type leader.  Gen. Petraeus has given so much to this nation. He understands Afghanistan, he understands Iraq.  He can continue to serve our nation at a time when there aren’t a lot of folks that have the kind of background that he has. He’s a statesman.

How do you think he’ll fit in with the mission and culture of the CIA, where it’s an intelligence-gathering, civilian, secretive agency, not a military organization?

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

He’s going to do great. He’s the kind of leader who wants you to kind of check your rank at the door when he has his sessions. He expects his people to speak the truth to him.  He has the ability to get the best out of his people. When you have a session with him, you think he’s really interested in how you think, what you think. I was sitting next to him in a meeting in Afghanistan in 2009. He was genuinely interested in the way in which we were working with the Canadians in an area west of Kandahar City. Petraeus probably knew the answers to the questions before he asked them. But this gives him an opportunity to confirm or deny what he thinks. He asked very probing questions and was constantly taking notes. 

We’ve been much closer involved with the intelligence agencies in the battlefield today because tactical intelligence is critical to our soldiers. And so we get information when we’re deployed. Sometimes we don’t know where it comes from, but I’ve got to believe that there’s a much greater consensus and much better ability for folks who work at certain levels to ensure that the folks who need the information are getting it. He understands what the war fighters need, and I think he’ll just increase that focus as the director of Central Intelligence.  

Col. Paul Bricker has just completed a year at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center as Harvard's Senior US Army Fellow. Prior to this posting, he commanded the 82nd Airborne Division's Combat Aviation Brigade, and recently completed a 12-month deployment in Kandahar Afghanistan in support of the International Security and Assistance Force. Col. Bricker has served in a variety of command and staff positions in the US, South Korea, Afghanistan twice, and Iraq.This interview was conducted by US-based reporter Cynthia Iris.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief