White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today that President Obama continues to have “faith” in Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan under investigation for potentially inappropriate communication with a woman involved in the scandal surrounding former CIA Director David Petraeus.
“I can tell you that the president thinks very highly of General Allen and his service to his country, as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan,” Carney told reporters in the White House briefing.
The president first became aware on Friday that there may be an issue associated with Allen’s nomination as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, according to Carney. Obama was notified Monday evening that the matter had been referred to the Defense Department IG.
At the request of the Secretary of Defense, the president has put Allen’s nomination as SACEUR on hold pending the investigation. “Meanwhile, the president has nominated General Dunford to be the next commander of ISAF and reiterates his belief that the Senate should act swiftly to confirm General Dunford,” Carney said.
“The president remains focused on fully supporting our extraordinary troops and coalition partners in Afghanistan who General Allen continues to lead as he has done so ably for over a year,” he said.
In his first public comments since the scandal broke, Carney said the president was “certainly surprised when he was informed about the situation regarding General Petraeus.”
“He greatly appreciates General Petraeus’ remarkable service to his country, both in uniform and at the CIA,” Carney said. “His thoughts and prayers go out to both General Petraeus and Holly Petraeus at this time.”
Carney refused to comment when asked about personnel changes, saying “I have no announcements to make with regards to personnel and no speculation to engage in.”