General David Petraeus (file)
General David Petraeus (file)

U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, General David Petraeus, is testifying Thursday on his nomination.

The current commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is addressing members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

If confirmed by the full Senate, Petraeus would succeed former CIA director Leon Panetta, the new U.S. defense secretary.  The general is expected to step down as commander in Afghanistan and retire from the military.

General Petraeus became the Afghanistan commander in July last year. Before that, he headed U.S. Central Command for nearly two years, overseeing a region including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen.

Previously, he commanded U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, presiding over the 2007 surge in American troops.  He is widely credited with turning around the Iraq war and pulling the country back from the brink of a full-fledged sectarian conflict.

In a newspaper interview two weeks ago, General Petraeus described the gains in Afghanistan as ?fragile? and ?reversible.?

He is expected to easily be confirmed by the full Senate.