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    Allen opts for retirement

    BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON (PAN): General John Allen, who served as commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan until early this month, has decided to retire from the military to address health issues within his family, President Barack Obama said on Tuesday.

    Obama, who accepted the commander’s decision, said: “I told Gen. 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.”

    In October 2012, Allen was nominated as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander of the US European Command, but the nomination was put on hold as the Pentagon probed his email contacts with a Tampa socialite linked to the scandal that led to CIA Director David Petraeus’ resignation.

    Allen presided over significant growth in the size and capability of Afghan National Security Forces, degradation of Al Qaeda, its extremist allies and ongoing transition to Afghan security responsibility across the country, Obama said in a statement after the White House meeting.

    “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,” the president added.

    “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.

    The president praised Allen as one of America’s finest military leaders, a true patriot and a man he had come to respect. “I wish him and his family the very best as they begin this new chapter, and we will carry forward the extraordinary work that Gen. Allen led in Afghanistan.”

    In Brussels, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said they fully respected Allen’s decision. “During his time in command, the Afghan security forces gained in strength and transition gained an irreversible momentum.” she added.

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