By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
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.