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The Senate Armed Services Committee is postponing a planned Thursday confirmation hearing for Marine Gen. John Allen but will move ahead with the nomination of Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford to replace Allen in Afghanistan.
"Uncertainties surrounding the schedule of the new Congress in January make it necessary for the confirmation process for Gen. Dunford to be completed before the end of this year," says a joint statement from Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee chairman, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the ranking minority party member.
The change of command where Dunford would succeed Allen as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is scheduled for early February, which is why the armed services committee doesn't want to delay Thursday's planned confirmation hearing.
Allen had been nominated to take a new job as head of the U.S. European Command, but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asked Monday that the Senate hold off on considering the nomination while the Defense Department inspector general reviews the relationship between Allen and a Tampa, Fla., woman who was a volunteer social director for the U.S. European Command.
The Associated Press reports that Allen and Jill Kelley appear to have exchanged "flirtatious" emails over a two-year period. Those emails were uncovered as part of an FBI investigation looking into the relationship between retired Army Gen. David Petraeus and a North Carolina woman who was co-author of a Petraeus biography. Petraeus resigned Friday as director of Central Intelligence, saying he had an extra-martial affair with the writer, Paula Broadwell.
Levin and McCain said the change of command in which Allen would become the U.S. commander Europe and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander is not expected until March, so waiting for the review may not interfere with the schedule for moving senior officers.