about the cultural differences between the C.I.A. and the military
he had grown up in.
"His was a short tenure," said Mr. Riedel, the C.I.A. veteran, now at the Brookings Institution. "But he was beginning the transformation of the C.I.A. from counterterrorism only to counterterrorism plus China, plus the euro zone, plus what the world will look like in 15 years."
Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the army and a mentor to Mr. Petraeus, called the resignation "an absolute tragedy for somebody who has accomplished so much for this country and made such an enormous sacrifice." He said he believed Mr. Petraeus would eventually be rehabilitated: "We have not heard the last of Dave Petraeus, possibly even in a public service role."
But amid the news media storm, many friends and admirers of the family thought of Holly Petraeus, his wife of 38 years, herself descended from a distinguished line of military officers. In a March 2012 profile, USA Today referred to her as "Army royalty," noting that her great-great grandfather fought in the Civil War and the American Indian Wars, and that her great-grandfather and grandfather had also served -- a point she made while testifying before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs in February 2011.
"I come from a military family, one that has a tradition of service going back to the Revolutionary War," she said then. "My father served in the army for over 36 years, fighting in both World War II and Vietnam. Two of my brothers also served in Vietnam and, of course, my husband is currently serving. And I'm a military mom as well."
Mrs. Petraeus has carved out a prominent role for herself as an advocate for the financial education of military families. In 2010, after six years running the Military Line, a program of the Better Business Bureau, she joined the Obama administration's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There, she runs a branch dedicated to monitoring the consumer complaints of military families.
"She is a role model for many of us because she found a way to develop a career for herself outside of her husband's very prestigious career," said Bianca Strzalkowski, who is married to a marine and visited a military base with Mrs. Petraeus last year. "That is something we all aspire to, not just to be the marine's wife or the soldier's wife, but to attain our own goals."
But the long separations from her husband seemed to weigh on Mrs. Petraeus. During a 2011 visit to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, she spoke of her dedication to her job. "I really can't think of anything better to be doing while my husband is deployed," she said with a pause, adding, "forever."
As news of Mr. Petraeus's affair spread, people who know Mrs. Petraeus reacted with shock and sadness. Amy Bushatz, who writes on military spouse issues (including for the At War blog of The New York Times) said that while the Petraeuses had been stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Mrs. Petraeus became a beloved figure there.
"When you are a general's spouse, it is easy to be kind of untouchable," Ms. Bushatz said. "You live in the big house, nobody ever sees you, you appear at events and give speeches. The feeling here is that she is not untouchable. She spent a lot of time being one of the people."
Jacey Eckhart, the spouse editor for Military.com, an online hub for members of the military and their families, said the fact that the Petraeuses had been married for so long, and survived so many separations, was a source of inspiration to younger military couples.
"The sense was they had a strong marriage, that this was a functioning relationship, that they had good kids," she said. "It's one of those relationships that you look up to, if they can do it, we can do it; this is what success looks like. So this is shocking. This is what it looks like when a hero falls."
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