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Allen Opts to Retire: Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, who up until Feb. 10 led US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, announced on Tuesday that he would retire and step away from his nomination to become the senior US and NATO commander in Europe. Allen cited concern over the health of his wife as the reason for his decision, reported Reuters. President Obama accepted Allen's resignation on Feb. 19 after a private meeting with him. "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," said Obama in his statement. Obama last October nominated Allen to succeed Navy Adm. James Stavridis as NATO supreme allied commander and US European Command boss. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta subsequently placed the nomination on hold pending the outcome of an investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general into Allen's email contact with one of the women linked to the David Petraeus sex scandal. The IG last month cleared Allen of any wrongdoing. "Gen. John Allen has proven himself to be one of the United States military's most outstanding battlefield leaders, a brilliant strategist, and an exemplary marine," said Panetta in a statement on Tuesday.