“We’re gonna get after this. It reverberates everywhere, across the United States,” Allen said. “You know, we’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.”
Allen suspended training — a cornerstone of the administration’s exit strategy — twice because of the spike in insider attacks.
“The nature of this campaign is not ultimately for us to defeat the Taliban,” Allen told NBC the same week. “The nature of this campaign is for us to give the Afghan national security forces the wherewithal ultimately to create security in this country so that governance can take root, rule of law can be embraced, and economic development and opportunity can move forward.”
The general was to give recommendations to the president before the end of the year on the status of U.S. operations and whether they are on pace with the administration’s withdrawal timetable.
“I’ll evaluate the nature of the insurgency. I’ll evaluate the progress that we have made with the Afghan national security forces. We’ll look at the operational environment we think we’ll — we’ll face in 2013. And the combination of all of those will permit me to make a recommendation,” Allen told NBC, adding that he was working “around the clock” to stem Taliban infiltration in the Afghan National Security Forces. “…We really need to look at how far the Afghans have come this year.”
Allen is now being investigated for thousands of alleged “inappropriate communications” with Jill Kelley, a married Tampa socialite and friend of David and Holly Petraeus. Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer with whom the CIA director was having an affair, sent the allegedly threatening emails to Kelley that sparked the investigation and Petraeus’ eventual resignation.
The Allen-Kelley emails have been described to various outlets today as flirty rather than sexual — and Allen has denied having an extramarital affair — but the intercession of the inspector general suggests that Allen is on the hook for more than calling CENTCOM’s “unpaid social liaison” a “sweetheart.”
The Allen case also provided handy penance for an administration coming under sharp bipartisan criticism for concealing the Petraeus investigation from intelligence committee leaders for months: Capital Hill was promptly informed about the Allen email probe.
On the same day that the investigation was announced, though, support began lining up in Allen’s corner.
“Bill Kristol says charges against Gen. Allen are a ‘smear.’ He’s right. No evidence, all anonymous talk about emails & alleged flirtation,” tweeted Brit Hume.
Perhaps the early support comes in part from knowledge about the job security rate for Obama’s previous commanders in Afghanistan.
Gen. David McKiernan, who began commanding forces in Afghanistan in June 2008, was forced out by Obama a year before his term was up. The reason given for McKiernan’s requested resignation was the new president’s desire to switch to a “counterinsurgency” strategy instead of conventional warfare. McKiernan retired after this rare ouster of a wartime commander.
The next guy, Gen. Stan McChrystal, lasted only a year as well. The leader of the troop surge stayed from June 2009 to June 2010, when he was forced to resign after members of his staff made disparaging comments about Obama and other administration officials in a Rolling Stone article (remember “Bite Me” Biden?). The magazine now touts its archive story as the profile “that changed history.”
Next was Petraeus, who was asked to be demoted as head of U.S. Central Command to take over for McChrystal. Petraeus assumed leadership in Afghanistan in July 2010, but a year later was plucked out of the country to become CIA director. There he would resign after his extramarital affair was exposed. Petraeus traveled to Libya shortly before the election to conduct his own investigation into the Benghazi attacks; now the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee can’t get access to the report. His testimony Thursday before the Senate and House intelligence panels was also called off.
And now, Allen’s nomination as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander has been put on hold.