Lieutenant General John A. Toolan Jr. was commissioned in October 1976 and reported to Okinawa as an Infantry Officer with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. Following this tour, he spent three years at MCRD San Diego, California, and was subsequently reassigned as a Company Commander with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines.
Lieutenant General Toolan served as the Marine Officer Instructor at the University of Pennsylvania from 1984 to 1987. He was then transferred to the II Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Lejeune as the Staff Secretary and then to 2nd Light Armored Infantry Battalion as Operations Officer and Executive Officer from 1987-1991; Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM highlighted his tour with the Carolina MAGTF. Manpower Officer Assignments was his next posting until 1994 when selected for command of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, “Wolfpack”, in Twentynine Palms from 1994-1997.
Following battalion command, Lieutenant General Toolan attended Air Force War College in Montgomery, Alabama, and was subsequently assigned as the Deputy J5 at Supreme Allied Headquarters, Mons, Belgium. Bosnia and Kosovo, particularly Operation ALLIED FORCE, consumed his attention during this tour.
From 2000-2002 he commanded Weapons and Field Training Battalion in Camp Pendleton and then joined the 1st Marine Division as the Operations Officer for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
In March 2003, Lieutenant General Toolan took command of Regimental Combat Team 1 and led the RCT in the march up to Baghdad. His RCT returned to Al Anbar Province, Iraq for OIF II in 2004. Following regimental command, he was assigned as the Director of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Virginia.
Promoted to Brigadier General in 2006, he was assigned as the Principal Director for Asia/Pacific Affairs, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in Washington, DC with follow on assignment as Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Japan from 2008-2010. He was promoted to Major General in 2009.
In July 2010, Lieutenant General Toolan was assigned as the Commander of the 2D Marine Division. In March 2011, he deployed as the Commanding General, II MEF (Fwd) to Helmand Province, Afghanistan for duties as Commander, Regional Command (South West) until March 2012. In September 2012, Lieutenant General Toolan was promoted to his current rank and assumed command of the I Marine Expeditionary Force.
Lieutenant General Toolan assumed command of Marine Forces, Pacific in August of 2014.