Allen picked to lead NATO, US European command

“If confirmed, as I expect he will, his experience as head of the ISAF forces will be absolutely instrumental in his broader role and in leading NATO's oversight of the mission in Afghanistan,” Panetta said.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, currently assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, has been nominated to succeed Allen in Afghanistan as ISAF commander.

Both moves will have to be confirmed by the Senate.

As head of ISAF in Afghanistan, Dunford would be expected to oversee the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan ahead of plans to hand security control to the Afghans by the end of 2014.

Allen is planning to make a recommendation to the president about how the drawdown in Afghanistan should proceed from the current U.S. troop level of 68,000.