Citadel honors Petraeus

Gen. David Petraeus spoke about the upcoming surge in Afghanistan during a question-and-answer session with Citadel cadets earlier this year at McAlister Fieldhouse. Petraeus was named the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Wednesday after President Barack

Wade Spees

Army Gen. David Petraeus says the United States for the past year has been laying the foundation and is now ready for a surge in Afghanistan.

Petraeus, commander of the U.S. Central Command and former commander of American forces in Iraq, spoke and answered questions from cadets and the public Thursday at a Greater Issues Series event at The Citadel.

He also was inducted into the School of Business Administration's Hall of Fame, along with James J. Kerr, chairman and owner of Asset Management and Consulting Services; Travis O. Rockey, president and chief operating officer of Evening Post Publishing Co., which produces The Post and Courier; and Joseph Salley, president and chief executive officer of Milliken & Co.

Petraeus said the U.S. first had to "get the inputs right for a civil, military, comprehensive, counterinsurgency campaign." Those "inputs" include: a solid organizational structure, the right people in charge, consensus on "the big ideas" and sufficient and proper resources.

President Barack Obama made a "substantial additional commitment" in December when he committed 30,000 more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan, Petraeus said. About 14,500 of them already have been deployed, and the majority of the rest will be deployed by the end of August, he said.

The president also announced that he would begin bringing troops home as early as July 2011, Petraeus said. But that doesn't mean we "sprint for the exits," he said.

It is instead "a realistic statement that the U.S. is not going to be there forever," he said.

Petraeus also answered questions on many other topics, including his views on reversing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gay people in the military and whether he will run for president in 2012, as has been suggested by several media outlets.

On the former, he said, "it's time to consider a change." Twenty-five other countries with "some pretty competent fighting forces" have reversed their policies on gays in the military, including Israel, the United Kingdom and Canada, he said.

But, he said, research and surveys first must be completed to assess the impact of the change and identify policies needed to implement it. And if the change does come, it must come with "uniform standards of personal conduct," he said.

On whether he's considering a run for president, Petraeus said he's not. He's said repeatedly that he has no intention of running and doesn't know why the question keeps coming up, he said.

Petraeus also spoke to school, community and business leaders on leadership lessons from the surge in Iraq at the School of Business Administration's banquet and Hall of Fame awards presentation.

The Hall of Fame recognizes leaders who demonstrate integrity and respect and work for the professional and intellectual development of people. Three people in addition to Petraeus were inducted into the Hall of Fame:

--Kerr is a 1965 graduate of The Citadel, served as president of the Charleston Area Citadel Club and established the Kerr Family Scholarship with The Citadel Foundation.

--Rockey has served as a member of the Board of Directors and committee chair for state and national television and newspaper associations and has served as a mentor to upper-level business students at The Citadel for the past five years.

--Salley is a 1989 Citadel graduate, chairman of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and a participant in the Palmetto Business Forum. He also was awarded the Alvah H. Chapman Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or dknich@postandcourier.com.