U.S. President Barack Obama has put his nomination of General John Allen as NATO's supreme commander on hold, pending an investigation into the U.S. commander in Afghanistan's alleged "inappropriate communications" with a woman involved in the scandal that led to the resignation of Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus.
A National Security Council spokesman, Tommy Vietor, says President Obama delayed the nomination at the request of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Obama nominated General Allen to take over as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe a month before Petraeus resigned Friday, citing an extramarital affair.
The allegations against General Allen involve his correspondence with Jill Kelley, who has been described as a Petraeus family friend. It was her complaint to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about threatening emails from the woman with whom Petraeus had the affair, his biographer Paula Broadwell, that led to his resignation.
A senior defense official says the FBI is examining 20,000 to 30,000 pages of communications involving General Allen and Kelley - mostly emails sent between 2010 and 2012.
A Pentagon spokesman, George Little, said the FBI brought the matter involving General Allen to the Defense Department on Sunday and Panetta directed the Pentagon's inspector-general to investigate.
General Allen has denied wrongdoing and will retain his command position in Afghanistan during the probe.
The U.S. defense official who discussed the case would not specify the nature of the documents, but said there is a "distinct possibility" the matter is connected to the Petraeus investigation. He said he did not know whether Petraeus was mentioned in the emails between General Allen and Kelley.
The official also would not say whether the investigation is criminal, but said the situation prompted enough concern that the Pentagon believed it was prudent to order an investigation and notify Congress.
President Obama had previously nominated General Joseph Dunford to replace General Allen in Afghanistan. The Pentagon says Panetta would like General Dunford confirmed as quickly as possible, regardless of the new investigation:
"On Sunday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred to the Department of Defense a matter involving General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, in Afghanistan. Today the secretary directed that the matter be referred to the inspector general of the Department of Defense for investigation, and it is now in the hands of the department's inspector general. While this 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. General Allen is entitled to due process in this matter. In the meantime, the secretary has asked the president -- and the president has agreed -- to put his nomination on hold until the relevant facts are determined. The secretary has asked both Senators Levin and McCain that the confirmation hearing on Gen Allen's pending nomination to be commander of United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe be delayed."
Resigned from CIA on November 9, 2012
Senate confirmed him as CIA director in 2011
Appointed head of U.S. Central Command in 2008, oversaw military operations in Afghanistan
Commanded U.S. troops in Iraq in 2007
Commanded 101st Airborne Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq
Graduated from West Point in 1974
Article by Luis Ramirez, VOA News