As President Obama is attempting to realign his cabinet and national security team, Marine General John Allen, who recently stepped down as top NATO and US commander in Afghanistan, handed in his resignation and has turned down the opportunity to become NATO's top commander. Citing personal reasons, Allen said that it was time to focus on his family
, especially his wife, Kathy, to help her cope with a combination of chronic health issues, which include an autoimmune disorder.
For more than 35 years, my beloved Kathy has devotedly stood beside me and enabled me to serve my country, 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."
General John Allen was the fourth general to command NATO troops
in Afghanistan under President Obama. In a rare decision Obama demanded the resignation of General McKiernan and replaced him with General Stanley McChrystal. There were rumors of differences of opinion in the conduct of the war in Aghanistan and it came to a head when an article in Rolling Stone magazine revealed that McChrystal held Obama and his cronies in contempt. Prior to the Rolling Stone article, McChrystal had publicly challenged Obama to increase the troops strength in Afghanistan. Obama eventually approved a troop surge of 30,000.
After McChrystal's resignation, Obama appointed General David Petraeus to direct the war in Afghanistan. Petraeus was replaced by General John Allen, when Petraeus was nominated to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Petraeus was forced to resign from the CIA after he became embroiled in a sex scandal, which revealed that he had had an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. Allen became embroiled in the same scandal when e-mails send to a Tampa socialite, Jill Kelley,were uncovered. Allen was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Allen told the Washington Post that his decision was not based on the e-mails
, but that publicity surrounding the email probe “took a toll” on his wife.
There were indications in November, when the Petraeus scandal was revealed, that Allen may not take the post as SACEUR and his appointment was put on hold. Leon Panetta at the time said
that the investigation had been handed over to the Pentagon's Inspector General.
While the matter is under investigation and before the facts are determined, General Allen will remain Commander of ISAF. His leadership has been instrumental in achieving the significant progress that ISAF, working alongside our Afghan partners, has made in bringing greater security to the Afghan people and in ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists. He is entitled to due process in this matter. In the meantime, I have asked the President – and the President has agreed – to put his nomination on hold until the relevant facts are determined.
General John Dunford is Obama's fifth commanding general in Afghanistan. Dunford will have the thankless job of overseeing NATO's withdrawal from the war torn country, including the return of US equipment. It is anticipated that a residual US force of up to 10,000 will remain in the country.
In the meantime it is back to the drawing board for the president to find a suitable replacement for SACEUR.