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Gen. John Allen to retire

Published On: Feb 19 2013 12:08:39 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 19 2013 12:49:44 PM CST
Gen. John Allen

Jack Pagano/ISAF

WASHINGTON (CNN) -

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the former leader of coalition forces in Afghanistan, is retiring, President Barack Obama announced Tuesday.

Allen informed the president he will retire rather than move forward with the nomination to become the supreme allied commander of NATO, the White House announced Tuesday.

"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 a statement.

Allen was the top coalition commander in Afghanistan for nearly two years, and relinquished that command earlier this month.

He was caught up in a scandal over embarrassing emails with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley that came to the public's attention during the same investigation into an extramarital affair that brought down former CIA Director David Petraeus.

After several months, Allen was cleared of wrongdoing, and the White House initially indicated that Obama would proceed with the nomination for the supreme commander spot.

Obama called the general one of America's finest military leaders.

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 in the statement.

CNN's Tom Cohen and Joe Sterling contributed to this report

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