General John Allen is one of the nation’s most legendary military leaders and most respected thought leaders on U.S.-global engagement. When President Obama created the appointment of special envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, General Allen was the first American tapped to confront the Islamic State terror group. According to the President, “American leadership of this coalition is making the world a safer place, and we have been fortunate to have a great patriot like John Allen leading our efforts.” Widely hailed as a strategic thinker and a true battlefield leader, Gen. Allen is one of the nation’s foremost experts on the geopolitical relationships between U.S. and Asia and the Middle East. A unique combination of warrior and diplomat, Allen shares awe-inspiring stories of the challenges facing our nation, the keys to combating the danger, and the leadership lessons that can be applied to today’s business environment.
When General Petraeus became CIA director in 2011, Allen replaced him as the commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan. There, he led and managed one of the most complex military transitions of the last decade as he oversaw the strategic shift from troop-intensive counterinsurgency operations to the development of Afghan security forces.
Allen spent his early career in Washington, DC, and became the first Marine Corps officer to be inducted as a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He had field command during missions in the Caribbean and the Balkans and became the first Marine to serve as the commandant of midshipmen at the Naval Academy. He then served as the principal director of Asian and Pacific affairs for the office of the Secretary of Defense before heading to a command position and service in Iraq. Allen spent 13 months in the Anbar province, where he led efforts to persuade Sunni tribal leaders to stand against al-Qaeda militants. His success precipitated a shift in the nature of the war in western Iraq. In 2008, Allen became deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.
Leon Panetta, the former defense secretary, described Gen. Allen as “one of the United States military’s most outstanding battlefield leaders, a brilliant strategist, and an exemplary Marine,” and Secretary Kerry said, “He worked relentlessly to build a vision among a diverse group of nations and bound them together with common purpose. I have relied on—and deeply valued—General Allen's advice and counsel.” He was also recognized with prestigious awards from both Australia and Italy, the Order of Australia and the Order of Merit, for his leadership of their forces in Afghanistan and his leadership of the Global Coalition Against ISIL.
Allen is currently affiliated with the Brookings Institution, where he is a co-director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, and is a senior fellow at the Merrill Center of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.