Republican SASC Members Close Ranks Around Gen. Allen

The witness table in the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing room on Thursday had just one seat, for Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, tapped to become the top U.S. general in Afghanistan. Absent was the embattled Marine Gen. John Allen. The president has frozen his nomination to become the top U.S. general in Europe and NATO's top general. (Photo by JOHN T. BENNETT/DEFENSE NEWS)

Senate Armed Services Committee Republicans got President Obama’s attention this week when they vowed to prevent U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice from becoming secretary of state.

They were at it again Thursday (Nov. 15), issuing a firm joint vote of confidence in Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan before a Pentagon review of his relationship with a Florida woman has really gotten started.

Obama, as recommended by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, has frozen Allen’s nomination to become the top U.S. general in Europe and the top NATO commander after it was revealed Allen had traded up to 30,000 pages of emails with the Florida woman who sparked the FB I probe that led to former CIA Director David Petraeus’ resignation last Friday.

Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain, R-Ariz., led the way at the outset of a hearing to consider the nomination of Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford to replace Allen in Kabul. Allen was initially slated to appear beside Dunford over his confirmation for the U.S. European Command and NATO jobs.

“I continue to believe that Gen. Allen is one of our best military leaders,” McCain said. “And I continue to have confidence in his ability to lead the war in Afghanistan.”

GOP Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who is slated to take over as ranking member when the next Congress is seated in January, later made a point to associate himself with McCain’s assessment of Allen. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., later did the same.

McCain did say the panel is waiting for a Panetta-ordered Pentagon IG probe into Allen’s conduct to conclude. But it is notable the panel’s Republican members already are backing Allen, when the investigation is just days old and nowhere near completion.


John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett