The Tragedy of General John Allen

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Air Force photo / Master Sgt. Michael O'Connor

General John Allen in Afghanistan.

Danny Klaidman of the now all-digital Newsweek says that’s what it is. The Marine four-star general, after getting good marks for his stewardship in Afghanistan, finds himself wounded by an I-Email-D just as he is slated to ascend to perhaps the most prestigious overseas posting in the U.S. military: Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and NATO’s top military officer.

It does sound Shakespearean. Here’s the Cliffs Notes version of Klaidman’s piece:


…Last November, just as he was winding down his tour in Afghanistan, Allen became embroiled in the sex scandal that led to the downfall of CIA Director David Petraeus. The news had broken while he was back in Washington awaiting Senate confirmation for his next assignment: Supreme Allied Commander Europe, known colloquially as SACEUR. Instead of a smooth transition to one of the military’s most prestigious posts, Allen had become the subject of a full-blown Washington media frenzy.


For most of his life, John Allen seemed like the pure essence of a Marine officer—honorable, virtuous, and brave. In his physical bearing, he looked like he’d walked off of a movie set: he was lean and hard, with serious eyes; his posture was always ramrod straight. Allen, who attended the U.S. Naval Academy, was marked early as a golden boy. In 1988 he won the Leftwich Trophy, the prestigious award that went to the officer deemed to have the most promise of living up to the Marine Corps’ ideals.


…If his track record in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and at the Naval Academy is any guide, he would probably have performed admirably in the role of Supreme Allied Commander Europe as well. Instead, his private emails became a public obsession. And now America has one less general willing to go on bearing the extraordinary burdens of war.

Full thing’s worth a read, here.


TIME quoting Newsweek? Will ISAF be quoting the Islamic Emirates website next?

Anyhow, Klaidman is correct, General Allen should not be dumped because of private emails. He should be retired because of his incompetence.

General Allen, Feb 10, 2013
 "This insurgency will be defeated over time by the legitimate and well-trained Afghan forces that are emerging today, who are taking the field in full force this spring.  Afghan forces defending Afghan people and enabling the government of this country to serve its citizens.  This is victory.  This is what winning looks like, and we should not shrink from using these words."

which had no similarity to the truth about the Afghan Army.
Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan, December 2012l ("DOD 1230 Report")

brief summary of report:
Based on the 1230 report’s figures, the ANA lost 27 per cent of its fighting force to attrition from October 2011 to September 2012. For the same period the previous year, the ANA lost 30 per cent of its personnel due to attrition, which means that 57 per cent of the ANA has been lost to attrition over the last two years.

Fighting ability
In April of 2012, there were 135 kandaks (battalions) in the Afghan National Army, and eight of those had achieved the level of ‘independent with advisors.’ In October’s report, there were 20 out of 146 kandaks classed as ‘independent with advisors’ and  17 per cent of the ANA’s most essential fighting element has not been assessed. . .air support is non-existent.

The ANA logistics enterprise is in the early stages of development, and capabilities are widely variable, with some hubs functioning at a high level and others struggling to establish a basic level of self-sufficiency. Overall, the various Afghan logistical processes and organizations, regardless of proficiency level, do not operate as one national logistics system in an integrated and cohesive manner.


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