WASHINGTON--General John Allen decided to retire--yanking his name from consideration as the new NATO commander--after meeting with President Barack Obama on Tuesday citing "health issues within his family."
Allen, who had been the top commander for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, drops out after Pentagon probers cleared him last month of accusations of misconduct stemming from e-mails to and from a Florida socialite Jill Kelly. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Allen's wife is very ill.
Allen was collateral damage in the scandal that forced then CIA Director David Petraeus to quit; Kelly got the investigation going when she complained about threatening e-mails from Paula Broadwell, who had been having an affair with Petraeus. It turned out that Kelly and Allen also exchanged hundreds of e-mails, which froze the Allen nomination until the Pentagon probe was complete.
Still, it made going forward with his nomination more difficult.
Obama said in a statement, " Today, I met with General John Allen and accepted his request to retire from the military so that he can address health issues within his family. I told General 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. General Allen presided over the significant growth in the size and capability of Afghan National Security Forces, the further degradation of al Qaeda and their extremist allies, and the ongoing transition to Afghan security responsibility across the country.
"He worked tirelessly to strengthen our coalition through his leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and to improve our relations with the Afghan government. Above all, he cares deeply for the men and women in uniform who serve our nation - as well as their families - and I am grateful for the sacrifices made by his family in supporting him during his service. John Allen is one of America's finest military leaders, a true patriot, and a man I have come to respect greatly. I wish him and his family the very best as they begin this new chapter, and we will carry forward the extraordinary work that General Allen led in Afghanistan."