Today, President Obama accepted the resignation of General John Allen, former Top U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan, for “family reasons.” The brief statement from the White House appears to have been unexpected and ran as follows:
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.
Since the statement, however, media outlets have begun aggressively searching for reasons behind Allen’s resignation, especially given that the General had been expected to seek nomination as NATO Supreme Allied Commander. Given the information already available, sources like Reuters reported that the health troubles of Allen’s wife might have worried him too much for him to accept such a progression of his career, while also hinting at something darker:
Allen, whose wife has suffered from chronic health problems, has been under pressure in recent months as the target of a high-profile Pentagon investigation that in January cleared him of wrongdoing after examining email exchanges with a Florida socialite.
The investigation arose from the sex scandal that forced retired General David Petraeus to resign as CIA director in November. The White House had publicly said it would move forward with Allen’s nomination for the NATO job.
Obama’s brief statement on Allen Tuesday made no mention of the investigation. Obama praised the general’s performance in Afghanistan, where he oversaw the start of the withdrawal from America’s longest war and rapid expansion of Afghan forces who are increasingly bearing the brunt of the conflict.
However, in the week prior to the resignation, other outlets had predicted Allen wouldn’t seek the post for reasons explicitly linked to Tampa Bay socialite (and sometime David Petraeus mistress) Jill Kelley. NBC and the New York Daily News both reported on this taudry interpretation:
Allen’s official reason will be that he wants to do what’s best for his family, the network reported. But several sources say the real reason is that the nomination process would probably involve more humiliation regarding his relationship with Kelley.
“After 19 months in command in Afghanistan, and many before that spent away from home, Gen. Allen has been offered time to rest and reunite with his family before he turns his attention to his next assignment,” a source on Allen’s staff told NBC.
In November Allen became ensnared in the bizarre scandal that brought down the former CIA Director David Petraeus.
Allen, it was revealed, had an email relationship with Kelley, a social climber enamored of the military scene in Tampa.
Previously, Allen had been cleared of any wrongdoing in the investigation surrounding emails with Kelley. Nevertheless, in the event that he’d sought a higher position, those emails almost certainly would have become a lightning rod, and could have embarrassed both him and his family.