We learned today that General John Allen, whose primary responsibilities in Afghanistan included emailing Jilly Kelley and apologizing for killing Afghan civilians, decided that he would retire and not seek the top NATO spot in Europe. It’s rumored that the next SACEUR will actually have his own email account, vs. the telegraph that NATO had planned to install in case General Allen did take the position.
Marine Gen. John Allen, who spent the past 19 months in Afghanistan overseeing efforts to end America’s longest war, said Tuesday that he was retiring from the military so he could spend more time with his ailing wife.
Gen. Allen, 59 years old, met Tuesday with President Barack Obama to announce his decision to end his military career instead of pursuing the job of North Atlantic Treaty Organization supreme allied commander in Europe.
Surprisingly enough, the Afghan Analysts’ Network had a remarkably (for the AAN) upbeat assessment of Allen’s tenure in Afghanistan as Commander, International Security Assistance Force (COMISAF):
That ISAF and the largely US forces of Operation Enduring Freedom have gradually changed the ways they fight in Afghanistan in order to reduce suffering is the result of years of harrying by human rights defenders and the press and political pressure from Afghans. General Allen probably has the best record of any of the commanders in this regard. However, with full transition and withdrawal looming, foreign forces will be fighting and detaining less, which will make the twin issues of civilian casualties and the torture of detainees less pressing for them.
So emails and civilian casualties (which have been dramatically reduced on Allen’s watch, it must be said) aside, what lies ahead for General Allen now? Yes, he’s going to retire, which means that we’re about to see a whole lot of photos of the man dressed like the guy with the baseball hat here:
But after the inevitable round of parties and…Mardi Gras beads…John Allen is going to find himself with a lot of something on his hands: time. To get all that time off his hands, what General needs to do is start an advice blog, and here’s the five areas we know he can cover.
1. Email etiquette
Ever wondered how many emails are too many? Not sure if you should hit “send” on a questionable draft? Concerned that the media might take your innocent flirtation the wrong way and ultimately destroy your military career? Then log in to “John’s Gmail Jamboree,” where you can get a retired Marine Corps general to answer all your burning email questions.
2. Apologize for doing something really horrible
Who better than the man who’s had to explain to Afghan villagers how being dead at American hands is better than being dead at Taliban hands? Suddenly your broken window, smashed up car, or DWI doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, does it? Play to your strengths, General.
3. Dealing with the in-laws
Think your in-laws are worse than a capricious, corrupt pseudo-puppet President that you’d put in power in the first place? Think your Thanksgiving dinners are awkward? Imagine how hard it was to explain why Americans had set fire to Qurans in the trash. Trust me, your mother-in-law’s got nothing on tea time with a Karzai.
4. Keeping your kids in line
So your kid stole a car. Held up a liquor store. Is going to have to repeat the 10th grade. Big deal. If any of your kids have been charged with the mass murder of civilians in their beds, then you don’t need Allen’s advice. Otherwise, he might have a perspective that can help you hold that head high.
5. Career changes
I see a co-blogging opportunity here, I really do. I’m fairly certain that neither Allen nor Petraeus ever pictured their careers taking the paths that they did. So why not maximize that experience and help others facing everything from downsizing to just general face-saving awesomeness.
- Gen. John Allen, former top military leader in Afghanistan, retiring (cnn.com)
- After Kelley scandal, Gen. Allen to retire (edition.cnn.com)
- General John Allen Salutes…His Wife (nation.time.com)