The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to confirm General David Petraeus, currently commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, to be the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The vote was 94-0, making Petraeus the second senior nominee for President Barack Obama's national security team to win Senate confirmation unopposed this month. The other was Leon Panetta, who is leaving the CIA director's job to become Pentagon chief.
Petraeus is expected to complete his command in Kabul in July, then hang up his military uniform and start his new civilian job at the CIA in September. Until then, the CIA's deputy director Michael Morell will serve as acting director of the intelligence agency.
Petraeus, hailed for his role in the Iraq war, faces daunting challenges at the CIA: providing accurate intelligence on trends in Afghanistan; tracking and neutralizing militants on multiple continents; and tracking issues as diverse as climate change and the political effects of global economic upheaval.
Before the vote, the 58-year-old Petraeus was lauded as "among the finest military officers and strategic thinkers of his generation," as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, put it.
He is credited with salvaging the U.S. effort in Iraq, where he led the 2007 surge of U.S. forces, and improving the security situation in Afghanistan during the U.S. military surge there in the past year. Throughout his career of 37 years in the military, he also has earned a reputation for brains and political savvy.
Petraeus was confirmed as CIA director one year to the day after he was confirmed by the Senate to become the commander of the troubled war in Afghanistan. Moving to Kabul last year required him to take a demotion from being head of U.S. Central Command overseeing a region including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen, a job he had held since 2008.