Lieutenant General John ‘Jocko’ Toolan Jr served as the Commander, Marine Forces Pacific, from August 2014 until August 2016. He retired from active duty on 1 October 2016.
Commissioned in 1976 upon graduation from Fordham University, his first assignment was as an infantry platoon commander with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines in Okinawa in 1977. He subsequently served at every command billet in the Infantry, while gaining broad experience in the Joint arena through his service on both the NATO and PACOM staffs. He has extensive background in the Indo/Asia-Pacific region at both strategic policy and operational levels. He also holds a Master’s of Business Administration from National University.
From 1989 to 1991, Lieutenant General Toolan served as the operations officer for 2nd Light Armored Infantry Battalion, a role in which he led and planned ground combat operations in support of Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama and Operation DESERT SHIELD DESERT STORM during the liberation of Kuwait.
Following a tour serving as the Commanding Officer of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Lieutenant General Toolan attended Air Force War College in Montgomery, Alabama, and was subsequently assigned as the Deputy Joint Planning Officer at Supreme Allied Headquarters, Mons, Belgium. In this position, he assumed duties as the Lead Planner for Operation ALLIED FORCE, the liberation of Kosovo, and retrograde operations in Bosnia.
Selected to Colonel, he was selected for a training command and then was chosen to serve as the 1st Marine Division Operations Officer for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM I and the “march up” to Baghdad in 2003. Lieutenant General Toolan took command of Regimental Combat Team 1 during combat operations and led the regiment into Baghdad. His regiment returned to Al-Anbar Province, Iraq for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II in 2004 and led the initial assault into Fallujah. Following regimental command, he was assigned as the Director of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Virginia. In this role, he led significant changes to the college’s curriculum to emphasize socio-cultural understanding based on his experiences as a commander during combat operations in Iraq.
Promoted to Brigadier General in 2006, assigned to Office of the Secretary of Defence as the Principal Director for Asia/Pacific Affairs, this assignment required extensive understanding of the Asia / Pacific region, and an intense travel schedule, that took him throughout the region, interacting with multiple nations. He was a key participant in negotiations for a revised lay down of forces in the Pacific, assistance programs for the Philippines, and many other initiatives. Selected as Deputy Commander, United States Forces Japan from 2008 to 2010. This tour capitalized on his relationships he had built in the Pacific especially Japan. He was promoted to Major General in 2009. In July 2010, Lieutenant General Toolan was assigned as the Commander of the 2nd Marine Division.
In March 2011, he deployed on Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, as the Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in the role of Commander, Regional Command (South West) A NATO JOINT command until March 2012. In September 2012, Lieutenant General Toolan was promoted to his current rank and assumed command of the I Marine Expeditionary Force the largest fighting force in the Corps. Lieutenant General Toolan assumed command of Marine Forces, Pacific in August of 2014.
Boards, Advisory and other positions: Senior Member—Marine Corps General Officers’ Executive Conference; Senior Mentor—Marine Staff Training Program; Member—National Association Corporate Directors.