"While I won't go into the details, my primary concern is for the health of my wife, who has sacrificed so much for so long. For more than 35 years, my beloved Kathy has devotedly stood beside me and enabled me to serve my country.
"It is profoundly sobering to consider how much of that time I have spent away from her and our two precious daughters. It is now my turn to stand beside them, to be there for them when they need me most," he said.
Allen told the Post that his decision to retire was not influenced by the investigation of his email exchanges with Kelley, who was tied to the sex scandal that forced Petraeus to step down last fall as CIA director. Allen told the newspaper, however, that publicity surrounding the email probe "took a toll" on his wife.
Word began to spread last week that Allen was having second thoughts about taking the Europe job. When asked at a news conference last week about Allen's status, Panetta told reporters that the general had been "under a tremendous amount of pressure," including difficult recommendations on the future course of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. Panetta said he advised Allen to take time to weigh his options, consult with his family, and decide his future.
In a statement following Obama's announcement Tuesday, Panetta heaped praise on Allen.
"He has earned the lasting thanks of this nation for carrying the heavy burden of leadership with utmost professionalism and courage," Panetta said. "I wish him and his entire family all the best in the next chapter of their lives."
Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.
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