General John Allen is the most recent figure to be involved in what Rush Limbaugh is calling “The Real Housewives of Westpoint,” a sarcastic title describing the convoluted circle of affairs and indiscretions that are currently rocking the U.S. government.
Though it all began when General Petraeus admitted to having an affair last Friday, General Allen became entangled in the situation after it was discovered he was sending “inappropriate” emails to Jill Kelley, the same woman who had been receiving “threatening” emails by Petraeus’ reported mistress.
So who is Gen. John Allen? What is his background, and what are his accomplishments?
Early Life and Military Career:
Born in 1953 in the southern state of Virginia, Gen Allen graduated with military [honors] from the US Naval Academy in 1976, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations Analysis.
After his Marine training at Camp Baret, Gen Allen transferred to Washington DC in the early 1980s where he successfully completed the Postgraduate Program of the Defense Intelligence Center.
During this time, he also became the first Marine Corps officer to be inducted as a term member into the Council of Foreign Relations, considered one of America’s most influential foreign-policy think tanks.
The following decade, Gen Allen started to lead major Marine Corps deployments overseas, including the 1995-6 Operation Joint Endeavor in the Balkans.
His unit was part of the landing force of the sixth fleet sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina to support Nato-led peace-keeping efforts.
In 2002, Gen Allen was promoted to Commandant of Midshipmen, the first Marine Corps officer to serve in this position at the Naval Academy.
He subsequently joined the Pentagon as director for Asian and Pacific affairs, in charge of devising foreign policy for the region.
Recent Military Accomplishments:
In July of 2011 General Allen, by then a four-star Marine general, succeeded General Petraeus as the top commander in Afghanistan.
Appointed by President Obama to oversee the drawdown of U.S. and international forces ahead of the planned transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan government in 2014, Allen’s work has been widely praised.
He was due to give troop recommendations in the near future, but his nomination to become the next commander of U.S. European Command and the commander of NATO forces in Europe has been put on hold pending an investigation into his relationship with Jill Kelley
What Do We Know About Allen’s Relationship With Jill Kelley?
General John Allen had remained largely out of the public eye until the wee hours of Tuesday morning, when it was revealed that there are 20,000-30,000 pages worth of “inappropriate” correspondence between him and the State Department’s liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, Jill Kelley.
Kelley is now being described by sites like the Associated Press as more of a “Florida socialite” and “social ambassador” who has been known to host parties for her close friend General Petraeus, but it seems as though General Allen also spent a significant amount of time with the woman at “command social functions.”
So much time, in fact, that he intervened in the custody battle of Kelley’s “unstable” twin sister, who had lost custody of her child a year before due to “outrageous conduct” and “illogical thinking,” based on his secondhand observation at these functions.
Fox News reported Tuesday that one senior U.S. official said Allen’s emails were “flirtatious in nature,” but that General Allen steadfastly maintains his relationship with Kelley is not sexual. However, now its sources are saying the communications were the email equivalent of “phone sex.”
Other officials say that, even if the relationship was not sexual, some other form of “inappropriate relationship” is being investigated. Details on what exactly that would entail remain scarce.
What Obama Thinks:
President Barack Obama was “surprised” to learn of Gen. David Petraeus’ extramarital affair and still has faith in Gen. John Allen, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday as lawmakers in both parties expressed bewilderment at the conduct of the country’s top four-star commanders and are demanding answers.
Carney said Obama continues to back Allen for the position of Supreme Allied Commander Europe, following a statement from the National Security Council earlier in the day that the general’s nomination was being placed on hold, “pending an investigation.”
“He has faith in Gen. Allen,” Carney told reporters. He added that the president “thinks very highly of Gen. Allen.”
In his first comments about the ongoing revelations that led to the resignation of Petraeus as CIA director, Carney said: “The president was certainly surprised when he was informed about the situation regarding Gen. Petraeus. … His thoughts and prayers go out to both Gen. Petraeus and Holly Petraeus.”
There you have it. Certainly these developments will add a chapter to his bio — it remains to be seen, though, how that chapter will read.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.