John R. Allen

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This article is about a U.S. Marine Corps general. For the United States Air Force general, see John R. Allen, Jr.. For other persons, see John Allen.
John R. Allen
General John R. Allen.jpg
General John R. Allen, Commander, International Security Assistance Force
Born (1953-12-15) December 15, 1953 (age 61)
Fort Belvoir, Virginia, U.S.
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1976–2013
Rank US Marine 10 shoulderboard.svg General
Commands held International Security Assistance Force
U.S. Forces Afghanistan
U.S. Central Command (Deputy Commander)
2nd Battalion, 4th Marines
2nd Battalion, 6th Marines
The Basic School
U.S. Naval Academy – Commandant of Midshipmen
II Marine Expeditionary Force
Battles/wars Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Enduring Freedom
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (4)
Leftwich Leadership Trophy
Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia

John R. Allen, AO (born December 15, 1953) is a retired United States Marine Corps four-star General, and past Deputy Commander of U.S. Central Command, prior to serving as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A). On 13 September 2014, the United States appointed General Allen as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Allen was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in 1953.[2] He attended Flint Hill School in Oakton, Virginia. He graduated with military honors from the U.S. Naval Academy with the Class of 1976, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations Analysis. He is a 1998 Distinguished Graduate of the National War College. He holds a Master of Arts degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University, a Master of Science degree in Strategic Intelligence from the National Defense Intelligence College, and a Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College.


Following commissioning in 1976, Allen attended The Basic School and was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, where he served as a platoon and rifle company commander. His next tour took him to Marine Barracks, 8th and I, Washington, D.C. where he served at the Marine Corps Institute and as a ceremonial officer.

Allen then attended the Postgraduate Intelligence Program of the Defense Intelligence College, where he was the Distinguished Graduate. He subsequently served as the Marine Corps Fellow to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He was the first Marine Corps officer inducted as a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Returning to the Fleet Marine Force in 1985 he commanded rifle and weapons companies and served as the operations officer of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. During this period he received the Leftwich Leadership Trophy. In 1988, Allen reported to the U.S. Naval Academy where he taught in the Political Science Department and also served as the Jump Officer and Jump Master of the Academy. In 1990 he received the William P. Clements Award as military instructor of the year.

Allen reported to The Basic School as the Director of the Infantry Officer Course from 1990 to 1992 and was subsequently selected as a Commandant of the Marine Corps Fellow. Allen has served as a special assistant on the staffs of the 30th Commandant and the Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command. In 1994, he served as the Division G-3 Operations Officer for the 2nd Marine Division and subsequently assumed command of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines; re-designated as 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines. This unit served with JTF-160 in Operation SEA SIGNAL during Caribbean contingency operations in 1994, and as part of the Landing Force of the 6th Fleet in Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR during Balkans contingency operations in 1995–1996.

Following battalion command, Allen reported as the Senior Aide-de-camp to the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, Charles C. Krulak, ultimately serving as his military secretary.

He commanded The Basic School from 1999 to 2001, when he was selected in April 2001 to return to the Naval Academy as the Deputy Commandant. Allen became the 79th Commandant of Midshipmen in January 2002, the first Marine Corps officer to serve in this position at the Naval Academy.[3] In January 2003 Allen was nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general.[4]

Allen's first tour as a General Officer was as the Principal Director, Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, a position he occupied for nearly three years. From 2006–2008, Allen served as Deputy Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force and Commanding General, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, deploying to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08, serving as the Deputy Commanding General of Multi-National Forces West and II MEF (Forward) in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq. In January 2007 Allen was nominated for appointment to the grade of major general.[5]

Allen meets with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 2011
Marine Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, presents his coin to Spc. Carol Sielawa of Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron of the 126th Cavalry Regiment, Michigan Army National Guard, during a command visit to Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, July 12, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brendan Mackie)

In June 2008 Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced Allen's nomination for promotion to the rank of lieutenant general.[6] He served as the deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command from July 15, 2008 until July 18, 2011 at MacDill Air Force Base.[7][8] On June 30, 2010 Allen temporarily commanded Central Command after General David Petraeus left to assume command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.[9] He served as acting commander until General James Mattis took command on August 11.[10][11][12] Allen was promoted to general by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen prior to his assumption of command of ISAF, and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) on 18 July 2011.[13]

Foreign awards include the Mongolian Meritorious Service Medal, First Class; the Polish Army Medal in Gold; and the Taiwan Order of Cloud and Banner with Special Cravat.

On March 6, 2012 he received the Polish Afghanistan Star Medal from Polish President, Bronisław Komorowski.[14]

On April 20, 2012 he received another Polish award, the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.[15]

In November 2012, he came under investigation for possible "inappropriate-communication" concerning his correspondences with Jill Kelley, the Honorary Ambassador to U.S. Central Command Coalition Forces.[16] In response to the investigation, Secretary Panetta suspended his confirmation hearing for commander of EUCOM and requested the U.S. Congress to speed the confirmation of General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. to command of forces in Afghanistan.[17] On January 22, 2013, General Allen was cleared in a misconduct inquiry.[18]

On February 10, 2013, Allen relinquished command of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) to General Dunford.[19]

On February 19, 2013, U.S. President Obama accepted Allen's request to retire from the military as his wife fell seriously ill.[20]

On April 29, 2013, Allen's official retirement ceremony was held in United States Naval Academy.[21] Since leaving the military in 2013, Allen still worked as an advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

On Sept 11, 2014, The Obama Administration announced that Gen Allen would coordinate international efforts against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.[22] Allen would be named as the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition against ISIL.[23][24]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Allen's personal decorations include the following:

United States Navy Parachutist Badge.png
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Defense Meritorious Service ribbon.svg
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Order of the Cloud and Banner 4th.gif Mongolia 1st class.png POL Order Zaslugi RP kl3 BAR.png AUS Order of Australia (military) BAR.svg
POL Złoty Medal Wojska Polskiego BAR.svg POL Gwiazda Afganistanu BAR.svg
Bronze star
USMC Rifle Expert badge.png USMC Pistol Expert badge.png
Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge.png
Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia
1st Row Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ 2 bronze oak leaf clusters
2nd Row Defense Superior Service Medal Legion of Merit w/ 3 gold award stars Defense Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal w/ 1 award star
3rd row Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 3 award stars Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal w/ 1 award star Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 1 oak leaf cluster Navy Unit Commendation w/ 2 service stars
4th Row Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 2 service stars National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal w/ 1 service star
5th Row Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Korea Defense Service Medal
6th Row Armed Forces Service Medal Humanitarian Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 7 service stars Legion of Honor France, Grade of Commander
7th Row Order of the Cloud and Banner with Special Cravat Mongolian Meritorious Service Medal, First Class Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, 3rd degree (Commander's Cross) Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia
8th Row Polish Army Medal in Gold Polish Afghanistan Star NATO Meritorious Service Medal NATO Medal for Former Yugoslavia w/ 1 service star
Expert Rifle marksmanship badge Expert Pistol marksmanship badge
Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Announcement of General John Allen as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL". State Department. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Nominations Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, First Session, 112th Congress" (PDF). FAS Committee on Armed Services. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  3. ^ Gen. Allen reflects on his assignment at the USNA in In the Shadow of Greatness. Naval Institute Press, 2012, book authored by the UNSA Class of 2002.
  4. ^ "Marine nominated for No. 2 CENTCOM post". Stars and Stripes. 15 June 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2009. 
  5. ^ "General Officer Announcement – nomination of MajGen John R. Allen for appointment as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command". Marine Corps Gazette. Retrieved 4 January 2009. 
  6. ^ "Lieutenant General John R. Allen, Deputy Commander". U.S. CENTCOM Leadership. CENTCOM. Retrieved 4 January 2009. 
  7. ^ "Lt. Gen. Allen named CENTCOM acting commander". CENTCOM (Press release). U.S. Central Command. 30 June 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2010. 
  8. ^ "Mattis takes over Central Command, vows to work with Mideast allies in Afghanistan, Iraq". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. August 11, 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2010. [dead link]
  9. ^ Mitchell, Robbyn (August 12, 2010). "Mattis takes over as CentCom chief". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  10. ^ "Mattis assumes command of CENTCOM". U.S. Central Command. August 11, 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  11. ^ "General John R. Allen Assumes Command of ISAF". ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  12. ^ Spotkanie z polskimi żołnierzami w Afganistanie – last (8th) photo.
  13. ^ Order dla gen. Johna Allena, dowódcy ISAF
  14. ^ The Telegraph (London), "Gen John Allen investigated for 'inappropriate communications' to Jill Kelley", Hannah Furness, 8:01AM GMT 13 Nov 2012
  15. ^ BBC News, "David Petraeus CIA scandal engulfs US Gen John Allen", 13 November 2012 Last updated at 05:26 ET
  16. ^ Chandrasekaran, Rajiv (23 January 2013). "Gen. John Allen cleared in misconduct inquiry". Washington Post. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  17. ^ BBC News, "Afghan Isaf commander John Allen sees 'road to winning'", 10 February 2013
  18. ^ Chandrasekaran, Rajiv (20 February 2013). "Gen. John Allen intends to retire, decline military’s top post in Europe". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  19. ^ "Gen. John Allen quietly retires from the Marine Corps". MarineTimes. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  20. ^ Michael R. Gordon (11 September 2014). "Retired Gen. John R. Allen in Line to Lead Effort vs. ISIS". NY Times. Retrieved 11 Sep 2014. 
  21. ^ Storey, David (12 September 2014). "Former U.S. Afghanistan commander to lead effort against Islamic State". Reuters. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  22. ^ "Gen. John Allen named as US envoy to anti-IS coalition". The Times of Israel. 14 September 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the United States Marine Corps.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Samuel Locklear
Commandant of United States Naval Academy
Succeeded by
Charles Leidig
Preceded by
David Petraeus
Commander of United States Central Command

Succeeded by
James Mattis
Commander of the International Security Assistance Force
Succeeded by
Joseph Dunford