WASHINGTON (AP) -- He'd been in line to head NATO forces in Europe -- but instead, Marine Gen. John Allen is retiring. In a statement, he says he wants to focus on helping his wife deal with health issues.
Allen recently completed 19 months as top commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. His career also included a tour of duty in Iraq that was credited with helping turn the tide of that war.
Last fall, the Pentagon announced that Allen was being investigated for potentially inappropriate email exchanges with a civilian woman in Florida. But officials announced last month that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Shortly before that issue surfaced, the White House had nominated Allen for the NATO job. The nomination was put on hold during the investigation, but after he was cleared last month, the White House said it was ready to proceed with the nomination. That's when Allen asked for time to reconsider.
In a statement, Allen says his "primary concern" is for the health of his wife, Kathy. He says she has stood beside him for more than 35 years, allowing him to serve his country.
President Barack Obama is calling Allen one of the nation's finest military leaders and a true patriot.
128-c-15-(Sagar Meghani (SAH'-gur meh-GAH'-nee), AP national security correspondent)-"an auto-immune disorder"-AP National Security Correspondent Sagar Meghani reports General John Allen says he's leaving the military for personal reasons. (19 Feb 2013)
107-c-19-(Sagar Meghani (SAH'-gur meh-GAH'-nee), AP national security correspondent)-"of any wrongdoing"-AP National Security Correspondent Sagar Meghani reports the president said he has accepted General John Allen's request to retire from the military. (19 Feb 2013)
APPHOTO WX101: FILE - In this March 26, 2012 file photo, Marine Gen. John Allen speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon. President Barack Obama says he has accepted Allen's request to retire from military. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File) (26 Mar 2012)
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