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'Warrior-scholar' to be top commander in Iraq

Story Highlights

• President Bush tapped Petraeus to lead troops in Iraq
• Petraeus helped rebuild Mosul and train Iraqi troops
• The general has a doctorate from Princeton University
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(CNN) -- Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, President Bush's choice to lead coalition ground forces in Iraq, helped write the book on fighting the enemy he'll face there; the U.S. Army's counterinsurgency manual to be specific.

The manual warns against using too many non-Iraqi troops and argues that local forces are essential to defeating insurgent groups.

Petraeus, 54, has said that the situation in Iraq was difficult, but that he would not have agreed to take the job if he did not think the mission would be successful.

"The situation in Iraq is dire. The stakes are high. There are no easy choices. The way ahead will be very hard. ... But hard is not hopeless," he said. (Watch Petraeus define what Iraqi government must do Video)

Petraeus is regarded as an incisive leader and a "warrior-scholar." The 1974 West Point graduate also has a doctorate from Princeton University.

"He is always two or three steps ahead of you," said Brig. Gen. James Marks (Ret.), who has known Petraeus since their academy days.

Petraeus also is known as a tough fighter.

"He'll do things with a smile, but he's vicious behind the scenes. He knows what needs to be accomplished, and he'll be dogmatic in getting it," Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (Ret.) said.

At a hearing on Tuesday, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee peppered the general with questions about President Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq. Petraeus, 54, testified that the extra troops were needed to help drive insurgents out of Iraqi neighborhoods and then hold the areas so insurgents won't return.

"It's not just that there will be additional troops in Baghdad, it's what they will do and how they will do it that is important," Petraeus said. "Some members of this committee have observed that there is no military solution to the problems in Iraq. They are correct."

He said success would depend on Iraqi political and economic progress and the increased capacity of the Iraqi military -- areas in which he is well-versed.

Petraeus led the 101st Airborne Division into northern Iraq during the 2003 invasion and then led the reconstruction efforts in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city.

He was sent back to Iraq in 2004 to oversee the training of the new Iraqi Army.

Petraeus was accidentally shot and nearly killed in a 1991 training exercise. The bullet just missed his heart.

Physician and future Republican Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee operated for five hours to save him.

The Armed Services Committee is expected to send Patraeus' nomination to the full Senate in time for a Friday vote. If confirmed, he will be promoted to the four-star rank required for the top military officer in Iraq.

CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre, Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr and Brian Todd contributed to this report.

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Lt. Gen. David Petraeus testifies Tuesday before senators, some of whom oppose Bush's troop increase.

SPECIAL REPORT

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