Lieutenant Colonel Allen West (US Army, Retired) was born and raised in Atlanta Georgia and is third of four generations of military servicemen in his family. A member of the Republican Party, he is currently the U.S. Representative-elect for Florida’s 22nd congressional district.
His parents instilled in him a very basic principle, love of God and Country.
In 2004, when it was time to retire from more than twenty years of service in the US Army, he brought his wife and two young daughters to Broward County, Florida, where he taught high school for one year. He then returned to Afghanistan as an advisor to the Afghan army, an assignment he finished in November 2007.
Allen West received his Bachelors degree from University of Tennessee and Masters degree from Kansas State University, both in political science. He also holds a Master of Military Arts and Sciences from the US Army Command and General Staff Officer College in political theory and military operations.
“Education is the great equalizer,” he says. “With a good education, any child in America can live his dream.”
West entered active duty service in the U.S. Army on November 1, 1983 at Fort Sill to attend the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course. He later attended airborne training at Fort Benning. West’s first assignment was as an airborne infantry company fire support team leader and battalion training officer in the 325th Airborne Battalion Combat Team. In 1987, he was promoted to Captain and attended the Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course.
He was then assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, where he commanded Bravo Battery, 6th Field Artillery Regiment and was a Battalion Task Force fire support officer for 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment. While with the 1st Infantry Division, he participated in Operations Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
After redeployment from Kuwait, West served as an ROTC instructor at Kansas State University from 1991 to 1994. In January 1995, he was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division Support Command as the Assistant Operations/Combat Plans Officer. During that time, West was promoted to Major and selected for attendance to the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and graduated in 1997. Afterward, he became the Operations Officer of the 18th Field Artillery Brigade. That was followed by assignment as the Executive Officer of the 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment. Upon completion of these positions, West was assigned to the II Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Lejeune, selected to serve as an Army exchange officer to this headquarters from 1999 to 2002.
West’s culminating assignment to his career was as Battalion Commander of the 2d Battalion 20th Field Artillery, 4th Infantry Division. He assumed command of this unit on June 6, 2002.
While serving in Taji, Iraq, on August 20, 2003, as commander of the 2d Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel West was in charge of an interrogation of a civilian Iraqi police officer who was suspected of having pertinent information regarding attacks on American soldiers in the area. Interrogators had learned that the detainee had information about a planned ambush. When the interrogators were unable to extract the needed important information for some time, LTC West was asked to come try to obtain the important information. As the detainee continued to hold back the information, LTC West fired his pistol past the detainee’s head into a clearing barrel, frightening (but not physically harming) the detainee and getting him to finally give the information.
West, who at the time was just short of having 22 years of service, was charged with violating articles 128 (assault) and 134 (general article) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. At a hearing, West was asked by his defense attorney if he would do it again. “If it’s about the lives of my men and their safety, I’d go through hell with a gasoline can,” he said.
After West’s retirement was brought to public attention the next fall, he received over two thousand letters and e-mails from the American public offering him moral support. In addition, a letter in West’s support and signed by ninety-five members of Congress was drafted to the Secretary of the Army.
West spoke in September 2010 in defense of a group of US military personnel convicted of war crimes known as the “Leavenworth 10”.
In his Army career, Col. West has been honored many times, including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals (one with Valor), and a Valorous Unit Award. He received his valor award as a Captain in Desert Shield/Storm, was the US Army ROTC Instructor of the Year in 1993, and was a Distinguished Honor Graduate III Corps Assault School. He proudly wears the Army Master parachutist badge, Air Assault badge, Navy/Marine Corps parachutist insignia, Italian parachutist wings, and German proficiency badge (Bronze award).