Gen. John Allen is retiring from the military instead of enduring what likely would have been a messy Senate confirmation process to be NATO supreme commander.
The general, who previously served as top commander in Afghanistan, was on track for the prestigious NATO post until his name surfaced in the adultery scandal that toppled former CIA chief David Petraeus.
Gen. Allen was officially cleared of misconduct by the Pentagon in January after a probe into his exchange of e-mails with a socialite in Tampa, Fla., who had clashed with Paula Broadwell, Mr. Petraeus's biographer and mistress. But it was likely the incident would be revived in any congressional confirmation hearing.
In a statement Tuesday, President Obama said Gen. Allen cited health issues within his family in making his decision to take his name out of consideration for the role of supreme allied commander in Europe.
"Today, I met with Gen. John Allen and accepted his request to retire from the military so that he can address health issues within his family," Mr. Obama said. "I told Gen. Allen that he has my deep, personal appreciation for his extraordinary service over the last 19 months in Afghanistan, as well as his decades of service in the United States Marine Corps."
The president called Gen. Allen "one of America's finest military leaders, a true patriot and a man I have come to respect greatly." He credited him with presiding over "significant growth in the size and capability" of Afghan National Security Forces, helping further degrade al Qaeda and its allies and "tirelessly" working to strengthen the international coalition fighting in the country alongside the U.S.
"I wish him and his family the very best as they begin this new chapter and we carry forward the extraordinary work that Gen. Allen led in Afghanistan," he said.
There were media reports late last week that Gen. Allen was likely to withdraw his name from consideration for the NATO commander position out of concern that the emails he sent to the woman would become public. A White House spokesman said Friday that the general was taking some personal time with his family to decide what he wants to do.
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