Obama Taps Allen to Command Forces in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2011 — Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John R. Allen, deputy com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, is poised to become the first Marine to com­mand all U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma today named Allen as his pick to replace Army Gen. David H. Petraeus as com­man­der of the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan as part of a reshuf­fling of his nation­al secu­ri­ty team.

Oba­ma is nom­i­nat­ing CIA Direc­tor Leon E. Panet­ta to suc­ceed Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates, who is retir­ing June 30. Oba­ma plans to pull Petraeus from Afghanistan to become the new CIA direc­tor in Sep­tem­ber, after he retires from the Army. The pres­i­dent also announced his nom­i­na­tion of Ryan C. Crock­er, for­mer ambas­sador to Iraq, as the next ambas­sador to Afghanistan. All must be con­firmed by the Sen­ate.

Allen assumed his cur­rent duties in July 2008. He served briefly as Centcom’s act­ing com­man­der when Petraeus, Cent­com com­man­der at the time, left for Afghanistan until Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mat­tis suc­ceed­ed Petraeus.

“It is absolute­ly crit­i­cal we have this team in place to sus­tain our mis­sion,” Oba­ma said in announc­ing his selec­tions at a White House event. The new team, he added, would pro­vide “the con­ti­nu­ity and uni­ty of effort that this time in his­to­ry demands.”

Oba­ma called Allen “a bat­tle-test­ed com­bat leader in Iraq who helped turn the tide in Anbar province,” where Allen served as deputy com­mand­ing gen­er­al of Multi­na­tion­al Divi­sion West and the 2nd Marine Expe­di­tionary Force from 2006 to 2008.

Since becom­ing Centcom’s deputy com­man­der, Allen also has been immersed in the war in Afghanistan, help­ing to exe­cute mil­i­tary strat­e­gy there, Oba­ma said. “I under­stand well the demands of this mis­sion,” Allen said at the White House today. “If con­firmed, I will ded­i­cate my full mea­sure to the suc­cess­ful accom­plish­ment of the tasks before us.”

A senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial speak­ing to reporters on back­ground yes­ter­day said Allen and the oth­ers were cho­sen because they have a proven record of work­ing close­ly as a team. For his part, Allen is well-known to White House offi­cials for work­ing through some of the tough­est prob­lems in deal­ing with Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, the offi­cial said.

Allen is a 1976 Naval Acad­e­my grad­u­ate who holds three master’s degrees in nation­al secu­ri­ty-relat­ed sub­jects. He is a for­mer com­man­der of The Basic School and deputy com­man­dant of the Naval Acad­e­my. In 2002, he became the first Marine to serve as the academy’s com­man­dant of mid­ship­men.

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

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