General John R. Allen assumed his duties as the Commander, International Security Assistance Force – Afghanistan and United States Forces – Afghanistan on July 18, 2011.
Following commissioning, he attended The Basic School and was assigned to Second Battalion, 8th Marines, where he served as a platoon and rifle company commander. His next tour took him to Marine Barracks 8th and I, Washington, D.C., where he served at the Marine Corps Institute and as a ceremonial officer. General Allen then attended, and was the distinguished graduate of, the Postgraduate Intelligence Program of the Defense Intelligence College. He would serve subsequently as the Marine Corps Fellow to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He was the first Marine Corps officer inducted as a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Returning to the Fleet Marine Force in 1985, he commanded rifle and weapons companies and served as the operations officer of Third Battalion, 4th Marines. During this period he received the Leftwich Leadership Trophy. In 1988, General Allen reported to the Naval Academy where he taught in the political science department and also served as the jump officer and jump master of the Academy. In 1990, he received the William P. Clements Award as military instructor of the year.
General Allen reported to The Basic School as the director of the Infantry Officer Course from 1990-1992 and was subsequently selected as a Commandant of the Marine Corps Fellow, serving as a special assistant on the staffs of the 30th commandant and the commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command. In 1994, he served as division G-3 operations officer for the Second Marine Division and subsequently assumed command of Second Battalion, 4th Marines; re-designated as Second Battalion, 6th Marines. This unit served with Joint Task Force 160 in Operation Sea Signal during Caribbean contingency operations in 1994, and as part of the Landing Force of the 6th Fleet in Operation Joint Endeavor during Balkans contingency operations in 1995-1996.
Following battalion command, General Allen reported as the senior aide-de-camp to the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, ultimately serving as his military secretary. He commanded The Basic School from 1999 to 2001, when he was selected in April 2001 to return to the Naval Academy as the deputy commandant. General Allen became the 79th Commandant of Midshipmen in January 2002, the first Marine Corps officer to serve in this position at the Naval Academy.
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 Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006-2008, serving as the deputy commanding general of Multinational Force - West (MNF-W) and II MEF (Forward) in the Al Anbar Province. General Allen's most recent tour as a general officer was as the deputy commander, U.S. Central Command, a position he held from July 2008 - June 2011.
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. Personal decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit with three Gold Stars in lieu of four awards.
Foreign awards include 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.