Gen. John Allen, top commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, speaks July 22 during an interview with The Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Musadeq Sadeq / AP)
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WASHINGTON — Gen. John Allen has returned to Kabul to resume his duties as the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, more than a week after the Pentagon announced it was investigating potentially "inappropriate" correspondence between the four-star general and a woman linked to the David Petraeus sex scandal.
Lt. Col. Les Carroll, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, said Allen returned to work Wednesday.
Allen's office in Kabul issued a brief statement saying he is happy to be back in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with his troops.
"The Defense Department inspector general's investigation into certain communications by Gen. Allen continues," it said. "Out of respect for that process, Gen. Allen will continue to refrain from commenting on those matters that may fall within the scope of the investigation."
Allen had been in Washington when news of his problematic email correspondence with Florida socialite Jill Kelley surfaced last Monday. He was expected to testify before a Senate committee last Thursday on his nomination to become the commander of U.S. European Command and the top NATO general. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has put that nomination on hold.
Well before the FBI referred the Allen emails to the Pentagon's chief lawyer last week, the Obama administration had nominated another four-star Marine, Gen. Joseph Dunford, to replace Allen in Kabul. The Senate has not yet voted on Dunford's nomination.
At the time Panetta announced that the Pentagon inspector general is reviewing as many as 30,000 pages of Allen's correspondence with Kelley, Panetta said he had determined that Allen should remain in command in Kabul, pending the outcome of the probe.
Allen's predecessor as Afghanistan war commander, David Petraeus, resigned from his post as CIA director earlier this month after acknowledging an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The FBI learned of the affair as it investigated anonymous, harassing emails, ultimately traced to Broadwell, that were sent to Kelley. The FBI investigation also turned up the emails between Allen and Kelley.