US commander in Afghanistan retires to spend time with family following Pentagon investigation related to Petraeus scandal.
The Guardian, By Chris McGreal, February 19
Washington – General John Allen, the US commander in Afghanistan, has chosen to retire just weeks before he was expected to be appointed the next military chief of Nato.
Barack Obama announced in a statement that he had accepted Allen’s request to retire “so that he can address health issues within his family”. But the marine general’s decision to decline the appointment of supreme allied commander of Nato follows an embarrassing Pentagon investigation into thousands of emails he sent to a woman at the centre of the sex scandal that brought down the CIA director, David Petraeus. The investigation cleared Allen, and the White House said it would press ahead with his nomination to the top Nato military post, but over recent weeks there was speculation within the military that Allen would back out.
“For more than 35 years, my beloved Kathy has devotedly stood beside me and enabled me to serve my country,” Allen said in announcing his retirement. “It is profoundly sobering to consider how much of that time I have spent away from her and our two precious daughters. It is now my turn to stand beside them, to be there for them when they need me most.”
The investigation revealed that Allen had sent Kelley, a socialite well known on the Tampa military base where both men had served, thousands of emails, some of which Pentagon officials described as racy and flirtatious. A subsequent Defense Department investigation cleared Allen of any breach of the military code of conduct, but the incident was highly embarrassing, in part because of revelations about the volume of emails and other communications between the general and Kelley, which amounted to more than 20,000 pages over two years.
“The stuff that took place as a result of the Petraeus fallout took a pretty heavy toll on John, just because he’s a man of such great integrity and his integrity was being questioned,” he said.