WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said today he accepted Marine Gen. John Allen’s request to retire rather than proceed with the White House’s previous plan to make him commander of NATO forces in Europe.
Allen, who earlier this month completed a 19-month stint as the top commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, requested retirement “so that he can address health issues within his family,” Obama said in a brief written statement. The president did not elaborate on the health issues.
In a separate written statement, Allen said he wants to focus on helping his wife, Kathy, cope with health issues. He was not specific, but The Washington Post quoted Allen on Monday as saying that his wife suffers from a combination of chronic health issues that include an autoimmune disorder.
Allen’s highly regarded career, which includes a tour of duty in Iraq that is credited with helping turn the tide of that war in 2007, took a surprise turn last fall when the Pentagon announced that he was being investigated for potentially inappropriate e-mail exchanges with a civilian woman in Florida. Last month the Pentagon announced that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing.