General John R. Allen, USMC (Ret.) is a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense on Middle East Security. Previously, he commanded the International Security Assistance Force – Afghanistan and United States Forces – Afghanistan from July 18, 2011, to Feb. 10, 2013.
During a 38 year career in the Marine Corps, General Allen served in a variety of command and staff positions in the Marine Corps and the Joint Force. Prior to assuming command of the NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, General Allen commanded at every level in the Marine Corps through Marine Expeditionary Brigade. He served as the G-3 Operations Officer of the 2d Marine Division. He was the Aide de Camp and Military Secretary to the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Contingency and combat operations include Operation Sea Signal during Caribbean contingency operations in 1994, Operation Joint Endeavor during contingency operations in the Balkans in 1995-1996; Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq from 2007-2008, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013.
Beyond his operational credentials, General Allen has also led a number of professional military educational programs including service as the Director, Marine Infantry Officer Program; Commanding Officer, Marine Corps Basic School; and Commandant of Midshipmen, United States Naval Academy.
He has served as the Marine Corps Fellow to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Commandant of the Marine Corps Fellow, and was the first Marine officer to serve as a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
General Allen's first tour as a general officer was as the Principal Director, Asian and Pacific Affairs, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, a position he occupied for nearly three years. From 2006-2008, General Allen served as Deputy Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), and Commanding General, 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, deploying to combat operations in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006-2008, and serving as the Deputy Commanding General of Multinational Force - West (MNF-W) and II MEF (Forward) in the Al Anbar Province. General Allen served as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command, a position he held from July 2008 - June 2011.
General Allen’s command of the 150,000 US and NATO forces in Afghanistan occurred at a particularly critical period in the war. During his command, General Allen recovered the 33,000 U.S. surge forces, moved the Afghan National Security Forces into the lead for combat operations, and pivoted NATO forces from being a conventional combat force into an advisory command. Further, he established the division size
Special Operations Joint Task Force. In the process, his forces closed or realigned over 500 bases and facilities. All of these activities were conducted in contact with the enemy and during active combat operations.
Following retirement, and among other activities, General Allen has become a Distinguished Fellow at Brookings, is a member of the Board of Advisors with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and is on the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Council. He is a permanent and active member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
General Allen graduated with military honors from the 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 Defense Intelligence College, and a Master of Science degree in national security strategy from the National War College. He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Strategic Intelligence degree from the National Intelligence University.
Personal decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of his second award; the Defense Superior Service Medal; and the Legion of Merit with three Gold Stars in lieu of four awards.
Foreign awards include the NATO Meritorious Service Medal; the Ghazi Mir Bacha Khan Medal of Afghanistan; the French Legion of Honour; the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Polish Republic; the Polish Afghanistan Star Award; the Mongolian Meritorious Service Medal, First Class; the Gold Medal of the Polish Armed Forces; and the Taiwan Order of the Resplendent Banner with Special Cravat.