Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer, became involved with the general years ago while he was still in charge of the troops in Afghanistan, and reportedly the couple cut off their affair after he was named CIA director in 2011.
Until now, Broadwell was a highly respected writer and speaker, with the academic credentials to back up her reputation. She’s easy on the eyes, but the general may have been as enamored with her brain as he was with her body.
So what’s behind Paula Broadwell?
1. Other Than Where Petraeus is Concerned, She’s Brilliant
Broadwell is a research associate at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership and a doctoral candidate in the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London, according to the Penguin Speakers Bureau, which schedules her appearances. She is a 1995 graduate of the West Point Military Academy with degrees in Political Geography and Systems Engineering, and she has earned a master’s degree with honors from the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and an MPA degree from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
2. She Could Probably Kick Your Ass
Broadwell is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, having graduated in 1995 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. While there, she graduated with academic and leadership honors, but most importantly for this point, she graduated at the top of her class for physical prowess. And she hasn’t slacked much during the years since. She also reportedly enjoys running, skiing, cycling, triathlon, surfing, kayaking, weight lifting and kickboxing.
Oh, and she’s also good at shooting things.
3. Name a Country, She’s Probably Been There
Broadwell has lived worked in or traveled in more than 60 countries during her 15 years of military service, including serving with the U.S. Intelligence community, U.S. Special Operations Command and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces.
4. The Petraeus Book Isn’t Her Only Work
Petraeus and Paula Broadwell have actually done us all a favor by making manifest what access journalism is all about.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 9, 2012
While much has been said about the book “All In” being like a “valentine” to the disgraced CIA leader, it’s not like Broadwell had an affair with the guy and wrote nice things about him without having a set of highly impressive credentials first. She has written for the Kings of War and Foreign Policy’s Best Defense blogs, and she has published op-eds in The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, and The Boston Globe. She’s written chapters in books on counterinsurgency, transformational leadership, and women in defense, and has contributed to national TV networks, BBC radio and National Public Radio on similar topics.
5. She Gave Up Her Skydiving Trip Today to a Disabled Vet
Army Corporal David Bixler never got to jump out of a plane when he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan, but instead lost both legs in an explosion in 2010. Thanks to Broadwell, he’s got his chance. She was supposed to have gone up for her birthday — ironically, it was today, Nov. 9, while all the big news was coming out — but she donated her jump to Bixler, who jumped on Nov. 2.
Oh, and while the rest of the world was finding out all the dirt on her? She was in Charlotte, meeting Bixler and saying she and her husband would help him find a job when he’s ready.
“He’s so amazingly positive, it just makes you cry,” she said.
6. She Put her Dissertation on Hold for Petraeus
Broadwell traveled to Afghanistan to travel with Petraeus and “I got a great perspective of the war through his eyes. That is what I wanted, was the war through the commander’s eyes.”
But did she get too close? Apparently. She went on runs with him, followed him to battlefield visits and watched how he handled the burden of command.
Among other things.
7. She Felt Safe in Afghanistan
She says her attire made her stand out, not her gender or role as a writer:
I never felt threatened as a Westerner, nor did I feel that out of place as a female journalist. As you know, many female journalists have covered Afghanistan over the years, and a significant number of women serve in the military … so I wasn’t that much of an anomaly. In the field, however, I was probably more of a curiosity for the children, who rarely saw other women, much less a Western woman, and much less a woman in jeans and Kevlar.
8. She Wanted to Bring Attention to Wounded Warriors
My intention with this tour is to bring attention to ‘Wounded Warriors.’ Over half a million soldiers have debilitation post-traumatic stress disorder, and as a society we need to draw attention to that and welcome them back.
9. Her Husband is a Prominent Doctor
Her husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell, is a prominent doctor in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. The couple have two small children.
10. She’s a Lot Younger than Petraeus and his Wife, Holly
Broadwell just turned 40 years old today, but Petraeus is 60 and his wife is of similar age. They’ve been married for 37 years, or if you want to do the math, for about as long as Broadwell has been alive. Holly’s father was the superintendent at West Point when Petraeus graduated.