WASHINGTON: The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday unanimously backed General David Petraeus to be the new director of the CIA, voting to send his nomination to the full Senate for consideration.
Petraeus, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Leon Panetta, who became Pentagon chief.
The Senate is expected to vote on Petraeus' nomination later this week; if confirmed, he would start the new job in September.
The intelligence panel's Democratic chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and vice chairman, Republican Saxby Chambliss, released a short statement announcing the vote.
"General Petraeus is an outstanding public servant and one of our country's finest officers," they said. "We look forward to a speedy confirmation this week so General Petraeus can take the reins of the CIA at this critical time for our country."
Petraeus, 58, says he will hang up his military uniform if confirmed by the full Senate as CIA director, and will not be taking his military aides with him to his new position.
If confirmed he is expected to embrace the drone strikes campaign in Pakistan, a nominally covert CIA operation that has fueled anti-American sentiment but successfully located and killed militants in safe havens.
Petraeus has a reputation for brainpower and political savvy, which he used to help salvage the US campaign in Iraq.
During his confirmation hearing last week, the general sought to reassure senators who may have worried that his superstar status on the battlefield would get in the way of offering the president objective advice from the behind-the-scenes world of the CIA.
Petraeus said that if confirmed he would be "keenly aware that I am the leader of an intelligence agency, and not a policy maker."
He also said that he had recommended a lower drawdown from Afghanistan than Obama had decided upon, but backed the decision and that no military commander in history gets "all the forces he would like to have, for all the time."
The drawdown, which calls for a third of US forces to leave by next summer, will begin while Petraeus is still the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. He has held that job since June 2010, when he replaced General Stanley McChrystal.
Earlier, as head of U.S. Central Command, Petraeus was widely credited with pulling Iraq back from the brink ofall-out sectarian warfare. A Republican favorite, Petraeus has often been mentioned as a possible future presidential candidate, but has said he has no interest in the job.