Entering Politics, Retired Four-Star Marine General Endorses Clinton

The Marine general who succeeded Army Gen. David Petraeus as commander of all coalition forces in Afghanistan publicly endorsed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton today in a statement released by her campaign.

Retired Gen. John Allen will also speak this week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the only four-star general officer to take the stage at either convention this year.

In a statement, Allen said the move marked his first foray into politics, as he had avoided the arena throughout his 37-year military career.

"Given the complexities of issues facing our country today and its longtime allies, I felt compelled to speak up and be heard," Allen said. "I have no doubt that [Clinton] is the leader we need at this time to keep our country safe, and I trust her with that most sacred responsibility of commander-in-chief."

Allen has reinvented himself multiple times since he hung up his Marine Corps uniform in 2013, citing a need to care for his wife, Kathy, as she battled chronic health issues. He turned down the prestigious post of Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the top military position in NATO, in order to do so.

His retirement also came on the heels of a Pentagon investigation into emails exchanged with Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite whose report to the FBI would uncover an affair between Petraeus and biographer Paula Broadwell, ultimately resulting in Petraeus' resignation from the CIA and charges regarding classified information he had shown her.

Allen ultimately was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Allen's time away from public office was short-lived. In September 2014, President Barack Obama named him the first special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, making him a key diplomat in coordination of the multinational fight against the militant extremists.

Allen was also named to key think tank posts following his retirement. In 2013, he became a member of the board of directors at the Center for a New American Security, a prominent Washington, D.C., think tank co-founded by Michele Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration. The same year, Allen was named a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution.

In October 2015, Allen quietly resigned from his post as special presidential envoy, to be succeeded by diplomat Brett McGurk. It was widely rumored that Allen had been at odds with military brass over efforts to create an army of Syrian volunteers to combat the Islamic State.

In an American culture in which the military enjoys a rare premium of trust and approval, securing the support of retired brass can be a political coup. In 2012, a coalition of 500 retired generals and admirals wrote a letter of support for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In this race, Republican nominee Donald Trump reportedly flirted with choosing retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, as his running mate. Flynn was ultimately passed over in favor of Indiana governor Mike Pence, but was featured as a headline speaker at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, last week.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@HopeSeck.

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