Allen Vows to Emulate Petraeus’ Leadership

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2011 — If he becomes the new com­man­der of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John R. Allen said he’ll seek to equal the strong lead­er­ship of his pre­de­ces­sor, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus.

“If con­firmed, I will seek to emu­late Gen­er­al Petraeus’ res­olute lead­er­ship,” Allen said today dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing before the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee.

Petraeus appeared before the com­mit­tee last week for his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing to become Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s CIA direc­tor, replac­ing Leon Panet­ta, who becomes defense sec­re­tary on July 1.

“I assure you, I will do what­ev­er I can to pro­vide our forces with every­thing they need in Afghanistan and [for them] to arrive home safe­ly,” Allen said.

The gen­er­al told the sen­a­tors he did not par­tic­i­pate in mil­i­tary rec­om­men­da­tions that led to Obama’s deci­sion this month to bring home all 33,000 U.S. surge forces from Afghanistan by Sep­tem­ber 2012, but he agrees with it. The rede­ploy­ment of 10,000 of those troops this year will begin next month.

“The troops that will be rede­ployed in July rep­re­sent the ful­fill­ment of the president’s com­mit­ment to both resource the strat­e­gy he enun­ci­at­ed at West Point [in Decem­ber 2009], but also to demon­strate to Afghan lead­er­ship the urgency of increased Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty force strength and capa­bil­i­ty to assume its prop­er role in secur­ing Afghanistan,” he said.

Allen not­ed that 68,000 U.S. troops and tens of thou­sands of NATO forces will remain in Afghanistan after the surge forces rede­ploy. He added under ques­tion­ing that it will be enough to con­tin­ue coun­terin­sur­gency oper­a­tions there, and that if con­firmed, he will mon­i­tor the draw­down close­ly.

“It is my inten­tion, as com­man­der, to mon­i­tor that progress,” he said. “Should I become con­cerned that our abil­i­ty to accom­plish our objec­tives is threat­ened, I will give forth­right rec­om­men­da­tions up the chain of com­mand.”

Allen recent­ly became a spe­cial assis­tant to the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after serv­ing as deputy com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, which over­sees the Afghanistan and Iraq the­aters. He was the deputy com­mand­ing gen­er­al of Multi­na­tion­al Force Iraq – West and com­mand­ed the II Marine Expe­di­tionary Force in Anbar province, Iraq, from 2006 to 2008.

If con­firmed as com­man­der in Afghanistan, Allen said he looks for­ward to serv­ing again with Ryan Crock­er, for­mer U.S. ambas­sador to Iraq and the new ambas­sador in Afghanistan, and will “ful­ly syn­chro­nize” mil­i­tary and civil­ian efforts there.

Based on his recent time in Afghanistan, Allen said, he agrees with assess­ments that U.S. and NATO forces have made sig­nif­i­cant progress there, but that chal­lenges remain.

Afghan and coali­tion forces con­trol much of the bat­tle space in Afghanistan, includ­ing the cap­i­tal of Kab­ul, which con­sists of one-fifth of the pop­u­la­tion, as well as oth­er pop­u­la­tion cen­ters in Kan­da­har and Hel­mand provinces, the gen­er­al said.

Mil­i­tary oper­a­tions increas­ing­ly are being led by Afghan forces, which are on track in a surge of their own to meet a goal of 305,000 troops lat­er this year, Allen said.

Asked about the impor­tance of Afghan forces tak­ing over secu­ri­ty, Allen said, “It’s essen­tial to the strat­e­gy.”

The Afghans also are mak­ing much progress in get­ting Afghan men to leave the insur­gency and rein­te­grate into Afghan soci­ety, the gen­er­al said. About 1,900 Afghan men have been rein­te­grat­ed from the insur­gency and about 3,000 more are wait­ing rein­te­gra­tion, he said.

Still, “there are sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges” in Afghanistan, Allen said, includ­ing the need for more oper­a­tional train­ing and lit­er­a­cy edu­ca­tion, and the need to get rid of gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion in Afghanistan and insur­gent safe havens in Pak­istan. NATO still needs about 480 more train­ers for Afghan troops, he said.

“There are sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges, but I believe in the cur­rent cam­paign, … the objec­tives are attain­able,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)