GEN (Ret.) John Allen

John R. Allen is a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, a force which at its peak number nearly 150,000 troops.  Immediately following his retirement from the military, Allen served as the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense on Middle East Security, and in that role, he led the security dialogue with Israel and the Palestinian Authority for 15 months within the Middle East peace process.  At the request of President Obama, Allen subsequently served as Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, growing the international coalition to 65 members in the face of the onslaught of the so-called Islamic State. 

Allen commanded the NATO International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces in Afghanistan from July 2011 to February 2013.  As such, he was the first Marine Corps general officer to command a theater of war.  Allen’s extensive contingency and combat operations include the Caribbean in 1994, the Balkans from 1995 to 1996, Iraq from 2007 to 2008, and Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013.  In Iraq, he participated in intense combat operations in the Al Anbar province where he was one of the principal actors supporting the emergence of the tribal “Awakening movement” that helped defeat Al Qaeda.  From 2008 to 2011 he served as the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the combatant command charged with the strategic responsibility for Central Asia and the Middle East.

As a general officer, Allen served as the principal director of Asia-Pacific policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, a position he held for nearly three years. In this assignment, he was involved extensively on policy initiatives involving Mongolia, China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. He was also involved in the Six Party Talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. He played a major role in organizing the initial relief effort in the aftermath of the devastating South Asian tsunami from 2004 to 2005.

John Allen is a Strategic Advisor to the Microsoft Corporation and has joined the Microsoft Advisory Council.  He is a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He is a permanent member of the Council On Foreign Relations and was appointed by President Biden to be a member of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors.  He is a Distinguished Graduate of the Naval Academy.  He was President of The Brookings Institution from 2017 to 2022. 

He is the co-author of the book Turning Point: Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence alongside Dr. Darrell M. West (Brookings Press, 2020). He is also the co-author of Future War and the Defence of Europe alongside LTG (Ret.) Frederick “Ben” Hodges and Professor Dr. Julian Lindley French (Oxford University Press, 2021).  Future War has been translated into German, Romanian, and, most recently, Ukrainian.  He is one of the originators of the term “hyperwar”.  As a co-inventor, Allen shares five AI related patents.  He advises several tech start-ups.

He is the recipient of multiple US military and civilian agency personal and campaign awards, and has received international military awards from ten countries.

John Allen is a reader of history, particularly about the American Civil War, and is an enthusiastic, but by no means expert, cyclist.