WASHINGTON – US veterans have called for top Afghanistan commander General David Petraeus to receive a rare fifth star, but a lawmaker said that Congress has no immediate plans to take up the proposal.
The extremely rare honor has not been bestowed on any general for decades, and has only been awarded ten times in the country's history. It is the equivalent of the British field marshal rank.
Previous recipients include General John Pershing at the end of World War I and generals Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz during World War II.
"The US war against terrorism is now the longest war in US history, and General Petraeus has clearly distinguished himself as a leader worthy of the rank held by generals MacArthur, Marshall and Nimitz," Pete Hegseth and Wade Zirkle, Iraq war veterans who head the Vets for Freedom group, said.
"A promotion would properly honor his service -- and it would also honor the troops he leads and has led," they wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week.
The two say they hope to gather up to 10,000 signatures and submit the petition to Congress, which would have to approve the promotion.
On a Facebook page dedicated to the idea, 738 people had expressed support for the move as of Tuesday afternoon.
But the Republican who leads the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, told AFP that adding Petraeus to the exclusive category of five-star officers was not a priority at the moment.
"That's not even something we're thinking about. He's a great general, and he's doing a great job, but that's sure not on my radar scope," McKeon said.
Petraeus, author of an influential manual on counter-insurgency, is revered particularly among Republicans in Congress and conservatives for his role in helping contain violence in Iraq during his stint as commander there.
The four-star general was named to lead US-led forces in Afghanistan last year after the former commander was quoted as making disparaging remarks about administration officials in a Rolling Stone magazine article.
He is seen as a possible successor to the military's highest ranking officer, four-star Admiral Mike Mullen, the current chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff who is due to complete his term later this year.
Pundits also have speculated that Petraeus might eventually run for president after he retires.
© AFP 2013