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That process of including the field commanders first was actually started by then-Gen. Petraeus, who asked that his regional commanders review the draft CIA assessments before he did, one senior official said. Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan now, has now made the same request, the official said.

Critics of the change say allowing the military more pushback will have a chilling effect on the analysts’ ability to give the war a failing grade, a senior intelligence official said.

One intelligence official expressed concern that this would institutionalize the former general’s habit when in Afghanistan of challenging the CIA’s unflattering conclusions, the official said.

Senior U.S. officials insist the military will not be able to change the CIA’s analysis but only add comments if they dissent from it. How those comments will be reflected has not yet been determined.

Petraeus insisted at his confirmation hearing in June that he could “grade my own work.” But he vowed then to change the way the CIA grades wars, saying the analysts relied on battlefield data that was often six weeks to eight weeks old. He called that a snapshot that was outdated by the time it reached decision-makers.

Petraeus earlier told senators he’d disagreed with four such national intelligence estimates on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan __ two because he thought they were too pessimistic, and two he thought were too optimistic.

Tweaking the way data is collected and analyzed is not new for Petraeus, said one U.S. military official who worked as a troubleshooter for the general in Afghanistan.

Petraeus had been equally demanding of commanders in the field, asking them to constantly grade their district’s progress, and had been working to revamp the reporting process there as well, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the military intelligence collection process.

Petraeus would ask field commanders to assess everything from how secure the area was to whether the Afghan government was providing people adequate services, but his troubleshooting team had found there was no uniform scale within the military to compare progress district by district. The troubleshooters concluded that commanders making the calls were often less than well-versed in judging non-military measures of progress such as the integrity of local government, so the assessment was often based on the commander’s personal opinions.

That was something Petraeus was working to fix when he left, the official said.

The February Afghan intelligence assessment found that special operations night raids, combined with village-by-village security operations, had shown more lasting progress in undermining the Taliban and their influence than attempts by conventional military forces to drive out militants, according to three U.S. officials who have read the analysis and described it to The Associated Press.

Petraeus oversaw both the conventional and special operations military campaigns, but his ideas about how to outsmart insurgent militias are more closely associated with the conventional military.

The report did not favor one strategy over another. But the information gave ammunition to those who supported Vice President Joe Biden’s special operations-centered counterterrorism strategy over Petraeus‘ backing of traditional counterinsurgency. It was seen as proof for some that the additional conventional forces Petraeus championed made little impact on the overall campaign and a slam against parts of the strategy designed by its architect just as he seeks to lead the intelligence service.

President Barack Obama’s announcement of a drawdown of 33,000 troops is being seen as another departure from Petraeus‘ counterinsurgency strategy.

Petraeus would only say it was a more “aggressive … timeline” than he’d recommended, which meant greater risk that U.S. forces might not succeed.

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