US General John Allen to retire, declines top NATO job

Obama himself made this announcement after he met Gen Allen at the White House this morning.

Washington: General John Allen, who till recently was the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has decided to retire instead of accepting NATO`s top job citing health issues within the family, President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday.

Obama himself made this announcement after he met Gen Allen at the White House this morning.

For the past days, the US media had been reporting that Gen Allen has been asked by the White House to retire following the allegation of his links and voluminous emails with a socialite from Florida.

But there was no reference to this in the statement issued by the US President, who had earlier nominated him for the post of the NATO commander.

"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," Obama said in his statement.

Obama told the General that he has deep, personal appreciation for Allen`s 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," Obama said, as he praised Allen`s work in Afghanistan.

"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," Obama said of the General`s contribution.

"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," Obama said.

"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," the US President said.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Allen has proven himself to be one of the most outstanding battlefield leaders, a brilliant strategist, and an exemplary Marine.
"I will be forever thankful that the international effort in Afghanistan was in General Allen`s capable hands during much of my tenure as Secretary of Defense. His leadership over the last 19 months will long be remembered as pivotal to this campaign," he said.

"The strategy he developed and implemented has put us on the right path towards completing this mission, with Afghan forces now on track to step into the lead for security nationwide this spring and to assume full security responsibility by the end of next year," Panetta said.