Broadwell is primarily known for her extramarital affair with then-CIA director, David Petraeus.
Born and reared as Paula Dean Kranz in Bismarck, North Dakota, she attended Century High School, where she was homecoming queen, valedictorian of the class of 1991, and an All-State basketball player. Her father was a high school teacher and coach and successful cattle rancher. In 2006 she was inducted into the Century High School Hall of Fame.
Broadwell graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering and political geography. She earned a Master of Arts degree in international security from the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies in 2006. She earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2008. Broadwell was a Research Associate in the Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership Fellows, a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Distinguished Young Leader in the French-America Foundation and American Council on Germany, and a national finalist in the White House Fellows program. She was elected as the Harvard student representative to the Academy of Achievement in 2006. During this time, she also worked at The Fletcher School at Tufts University as the Deputy Director of the Jebsen Center on Counter-Terrorism. In 2008, she entered the PhD program at Department of War Studies at King's College London. As of February 2014 Broadwell is listed as a "former student" presumably without receiving a Ph.D. Her lead supervisor at KCL was Lawrence Freedman.
Broadwell served in the United States Army and the United States Army Reserve as a military intelligence officer on four different continents, serving in the disciplines of electronic warfare, document exploitation, counter-terrorism analysis and operations, and human intelligence work. She rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Reserve as of August 2012. In February 2013 it was reported that the Army had revoked Broadwell's promotion to lieutenant colonel. She was classified as ineligible for promotion due to being under investigation by the Army for the Petraeus affair scandal. It was also reported that she would not be eligible for promotion until the investigation was fully resolved.
Broadwell applied for a position with the FBI in 2001, passing the polygraph, academic, and life-experience requirements. A retired FBI agent quoted by The Daily Beast has suggested that the FBI would have been very impressed with her qualifications and experience. The FBI offered her a job, but Broadwell decided instead to go to Harvard University.
Broadwell met Petraeus in 2006 when he was a speaker at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She was a graduate student at the University of Denver at that time. According to The Charlotte Observer, she told him about her research interests after he spoke. He handed her his card and offered his help. She began a doctoral dissertation that included a case study of his leadership, with Petraeus fully cooperating. Broadwell then co-authored a biography of Petraeus, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, with Vernon Loeb that was published in January 2012. The writer Joshua Foust has challenged the accuracy of Broadwell's account of the US destruction of the Afghan village of Khosrow Sofla. Soldiers and officers came to her defense, questioning Foust's hostility toward Broadwell.
Broadwell was deputy director of the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She also worked with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Broadwell has also written for The New York Times, CNN Security Blog, and The Boston Globe, as well as publishing book chapters in edited volumes.
In June 2009 and June 2011 Broadwell attended meetings on Afghanistan-Pakistan policy in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is part of the White House complex.
In February 2013 it was reported that the Army had revoked Broadwell's promotion to lieutenant colonel. She was classified as ineligible for promotion due to being under investigation by the Army for the Petraeus affair scandal. It was also reported that she would not be eligible for promotion until the investigation was fully resolved.
Broadwell is married to Dr. Scott Broadwell, an interventional radiologist who graduated from George Washington University School of Medicine in 1996. They reside in Charlotte, North Carolina, and have two young sons.
The couple met in 2000, when they were both active duty U.S. Army captains serving in the U.S. National Ski Patrol. Scott Broadwell was then a physician and commander of the Mannheim military clinic in Germany and Kranz was completing a military intelligence deployment. They were married in Heidelberg Castle, with Lt. Col. Ronald Leininger, a Protestant Army chaplain, officiating.
Broadwell is also known for her extramarital affair with then-CIA director, David Petraeus.
In mid-2012, Broadwell sent stalking emails to Gen. Petraeus, Gen. Mattis, Gen. John Allen, Adm. Harward and Dr. Scott Kelley. Per the request of the Generals, the FBI began investigating the stalking emails from Broadwell since they contained confidential information about the CIA Director's schedule. The Department of Justice pursued an invasive investigation into Broadwell for possessing classified information by illegally accessing CIA Director's emails to learn the confidential schedules of the generals she was stalking. The FBI called Broadwell in for questioning, at which time she admitted to the illegal access of Petraeus's emails to stalk her victims. After Broadwell turned over her computer, classified documents were found. The affair was revealed in early November 2012 and was cited by Petraeus as the reason for his resignation on November 9.
When the news of the scandal became public, Broadwell spent time away from her husband and family secluded in Washington D.C. at the home of her brother, Stephen Kranz. At the same time her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, was being searched by the FBI. She subsequently returned home to her family. The media has taken note of how Scott and Paula Broadwell have tried to get back to normal life.
Following the revelations about her relationship with Petraeus, Broadwell had retained the services of former Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers with the public relations firm The Glover Park Group. The founders of the group had previously served as officials in the Clinton White House and on the presidential campaign of former Vice President Al Gore.