Report: Retired Gen. David Petraeus May Be Demoted by Pentagon

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AP Photo/Dan Kitwood
Washington, D.C.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is considering reprimanding misbehaving generals, including retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, perhaps the most revered commander of his generation, for his roles in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, The Daily Beast exclusively reports.

The Daily Beast reportedly learned from three people with direct knowledge of the matter that Secretary Carter is considering retroactively demoting retired Gen. Petraeus after he admitted to giving his mistress and biographer classified information while still in uniform.

“Carter is said to be concerned that because he has recommended other generals be reduced in rank for actions not becoming an officer, he’ll be seen as inconsistent if he doesn’t do the same for Petraeus,” notes the report. “The decision is as much about timing and politics as it is Petraeus’s own transgressions.”

“This is about Ash Carter, not David Petraeus,” an unnamed defense official told The Daily Beast.

Carter does not have a deadline to make a decision.

Secretary Carter reportedly “wants to be consistent in his treatment of senior officers who engage in misconduct and to send a message that even men of Petraeus’s fame and esteemed reputation are not immune to punishment.”

It is now up to Secretary Carter to consider bypassing an earlier recommendation by ex-Secretary of the Army John McHugh that the prominent retired general not have his rank reduced. Petraeus served as commander of U.S. Central Command, the commanding general of all ground forces in Iraq, and later as commander NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

“Carter could also recommend other actions that don’t result in Petraeus losing his fourth star,” reports The Daily Beast, but the Pentagon chief could also allow McHugh’s recommendation to stand.

However, the unnamed defense official told The Daily Beast, “The secretary is considering going in a different direction” from the Army.

Notwithstanding the additional blow his once-impeccable reputation would take, a demotion could also end up costing the storied general and former CIA director hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Reducing Petraeus’s rank, most likely to lieutenant general, could mean he’d have to pay back the difference in pension payments and other benefits that he received as a retired four-star general,” reports The Daily Beast, adding:

That would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars over his retirement. According to Pentagon figures, a four-star general with roughly the same years of experience as Petraeus was entitled to receive a yearly pension of nearly $220,000. A three-star officer would receive about $170,000.

Nevertheless, the report adds, “The financial pain to Petraeus isn’t likely to be severe. He has confided to friends and acquaintances that he’s making a hefty sum from his job at a private equity firm and through speaking fees.”

Before making a final determination, Carter has requested the information McHugh had at his disposal when he made the recommendation on Petraeus’ case, according to Pentagon Secretary Peter Cook.

“The Department of the Army is still in the process of providing the Secretary with information relevant to former Secretary McHugh’s recommendation,” Cook told The Daily Beast, adding, “Once the Secretary has an opportunity to consider this information, he will make his decision about next steps, if any, in this matter.”

“If Carter decides to strip Petraeus of his fourth star, he could be demoted to the last rank at which he ‘satisfactorily’ served, according to military regulations,” notes the report.

Read the story in its entirety here.