The Pentagon is denying a report from the Times of London that Gen. David Petraeus will leave his post as chief of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan before the end of the year.
Calling the article from the Times “sensational speculation,” Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary issued a statement saying, “I can assure you General Petraeus is not quitting as ISAF commander.” Morrell said that while Petraeus does not “plan to stay in Afghanistan forever” his departure is certainly not imminent. “Obviously he will rotate out at some point, but that point has not yet been determined and it will not occur anytime soon,” Morrell said. “Until then, he will continue to ably lead our coalition forces in Afghanistan."
The statement came out after the Times reported Petraeus would be leaving as “part of a sweeping reorganisation of top American officials in Afghanistan, which the Obama Administration hopes to present as proof that its strategy does not depend on the towering reputation of one man.”
The reports of his departure sparked speculation that Petraeus, a popular military figure, might be trying to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the post from which Mike Mullen is expected to retire in October.