Gen. John Allen formally stepped into retirement Monday, moving on after more than 30 years in the Marine Corps with a ceremony at the Naval Academy.
Allen already had been described as “retired” numerous times, but he was still on active duty through this week, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out yesterday. Likewise, Gen. James Mattis has turned over his post as the head of U.S. Central Command to Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, but Mattis won’t formally retire until June. Marine Corps Times profiled him last month.
Allen’s actual retirement ceremony seems to have been conducted outside the limelight. There is no news coverage of yesterday’s ceremony that I’ve seen so far from journalists who were there, although the Marine Corps did release several photographs.
After Allen’s whirlwind run as the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, retiring quietly was probably a relief. He was investigated by the Pentagon for a potentially inappropriate relationship with a woman, but ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing. The White House announced in February that he’d retire.
Allen discussed the future of Afghanistan in a recent interview with Jim Michaels, but the resulting story has no mention of the investigation. Allen told the Washington Post in February that he was retiring to take care of his wife, who is chronically ill.
Until Allen’s retirement, the Corps briefly had six general officers wearing four stars — a first for the service, Marine officials said. They met at the Home of the Commandants in Washington earlier this month, posing for photographs like this one:
In an interview last month, Gen. John Kelly, one of Allen’s peers and friends, told me that the Corps will miss leaders like Allen and Mattis after they retire.
“Only a few guys like them come along per generation,” Kelly said. “They are brilliant. They are dedicated. They are selflessly devoted to their duties. … They give their unvarnished opinions and recommendations when asked by their political masters or the Congress, then salute and, to their deaths, will carry out the orders they are given. We are less as an institution when men like these ‘go over the side,’ as we Marines say, ‘for the last time.'”