The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, is
under investigation for allegedly inappropriate communication
with a woman at the centre of the scandal involving former
CIA Director David Petraeus.
The shocking revelation threatens to fell another one of the
U.S. military's biggest names and suggests that the scandal
involving Petraeus - a former four-star general who had
Allen's job in Afghanistan before moving to the CIA last year
- could expand much further than previously imagined.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior U.S defence
official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000
pages of communications - mostly emails starting in 2010 -
between Allen and Jill Kelley, who has been identified as a
long-time friend of the Petraeus family and a Tampa, Florida,
volunteer social liaison with military families at MacDill
Air Force Base.
It was Kelley's complaints about harassing emails from the
woman with whom Petraeus had had an affair, Paula Broadwell,
that prompted an FBI investigation, ultimately alerting
authorities to Petraeus' involvement with Broadwell.
Petraeus resigned from his job on Friday.
Asked whether there were concerns about the disclosure of
classified information, the official said: "We are concerned
about inappropriate communications. We are not going to
speculate as to what is contained in these documents."
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement given to
reporters flying with him to Australia that he asked that
Allen's nomination to be Commander of U.S. European Command
and Supreme Allied Commander Europe be delayed "and the
president has agreed."
Allen, who is now in Washington, was due to face a Senate
confirmation hearing on Thursday (local time), as was his
slated successor in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford.
The FBI referred the case to the Pentagon on Sunday and
Panetta directed the Defence Department's Inspector General
to handle the investigation.
Panetta informed the top Republican and Democrat on the
Senate Armed Services Committee during the flight to
Australia. The House Armed Services Committee was also
The U.S. defence official said that Allen denied any
wrongdoing and that Panetta had opted to keep him in his job
while the matter was under review, and until Dunford can be
confirmed to replace him - a process that gains urgency given
the potentially lengthy review process and the cloud it could
cast over the mission in Afghanistan.
"While the matter is under investigation and before the facts
are determined, General Allen will remain commander of ISAF,"
Panetta said, referring to the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.
Only hours earlier, Panetta had said he was reviewing Allen's
recommendations on the future U.S. presence in Afghanistan
after most troops withdraw by the end of 2014.
Commending Allen's leadership in Afghanistan, Panetta said in
his statement: "He is entitled to due process in this
At the same time, he noted that wanted the Senate to act
"promptly" on Dunford's nomination.
The U.S. official said Panetta was informed of the matter
involving Allen on Sunday, as he flew to Hawaii, after the
Pentagon's top lawyer called Panetta's chief of staff. The
White House was informed next.