President Barack Obama said Tuesday that General John Allen will retire instead of accepting the top job at NATO, as he seeks to take care of his family after a 19-month tour in Afghanistan.
Speculation had been rife for weeks that Allen, who led the war effort in Afghanistan for 19 months, would not take up Obama's offer to serve as the alliance's supreme commander, even after he was cleared of wrongdoing in a drama over emails to a Florida socialite.
"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 a written statement.
Allen recently returned from his post as the top commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan and had asked for more time to think over his future.
Obama praised the Marine Corps general for presiding over "significant growth" in Afghanistan's security forces and a "further degradation" of Al-Qaeda.
"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.
Allen told the Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday that he wanted to focus on helping his wife, Kathy, who has chronic health problems that include autoimmune disorder.
"Right now, I've just got to get her well," Allen said. "It's time to take care of my family."
He said his decision was not related to the episode over his email exchanges with a Florida woman, Jill Kelley. The Pentagon inspector general investigated the correspondence but concluded Allen had not violated rules on conduct "unbecoming of an officer," including adultery.
The probe stemmed from a scandal that forced David Petraeus to resign as CIA director over an extramarital affair. Kelley had complained to the FBI about harassing emails and authorities then uncovered an affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
During the investigation, authorities also found emails between Allen and Kelley that were deemend potentially "inappropriate."
During his time in Afghanistan, Allen presided over a shift from counter-insurgency operations led by large numbers of US troops to efforts to advise and build up the Afghan security forces.