- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Marine Gen. John Allen, the former top commander in Afghanistan, 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 was on track for the prestigious NATO post until his name surfaced in the adultery scandal that toppled former CIA chief David H. Petraeus and the White House put his nomination on hold pending a Pentagon investigation.

Gen. Allen, who was officially cleared of misconduct in the probe, cited health issues within his family for withdrawing from consideration for the NATO post, but friends said the investigation took a toll on the four-star general.

“The reasons for my decision are personal. I did not come to it lightly or quickly, but given the considerations behind it, I recognized in the end it was the only choice I could make. While I won’t go into the details, my primary concern is for the health of my wife, who has sacrificed so much for so long,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

President Obama is reviewing his options for filling the NATO slot. Two names are being mentioned at the Pentagon: Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Navy Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.

Gen. Allen’s decision, which he delivered to Mr. Obama Tuesday, comes days after Foreign Policy magazine and other news outlets reported that the general was leaning toward pulling his name to avoid the confirmation process and reviving the scandal. Lawmakers would have been expected to ask about thousands of pages of possibly inappropriate and “flirtatious” emails between the general and a Tampa, Florida-socialite Jill Kelley, a married mother of two.

Ms. Kelley had clashed with Paula Broadwell, Mr. Petraeus’ biographer and mistress.

In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Obama praised the 38-year military career of Gen. Allen, crediting 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.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee that would have held the confirmation hearing, expressed disappointment over the news.

“General Allen and his family have served this nation with distinction, and his leadership in the future will be missed. I wish him and his family all the best, and know that he will continue to contribute to our great nation outside of military service,” the South Carolina Republican and Air Force Reserve colonel said in a statement.

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