Obama picks Gen. Breedlove for top European post

Hagel urged Congress to confirm Breedlove quickly. “We need to get that position filled,” he said at a Pentagon press briefing Thursday.

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“Not only is he particularly well qualified, but the job that Adm. Stavridis has done over there has been significant — and I think you've extended him a few times — so he needs a little relief one of these days.”

Allen had been picked last year to replace Stavridis as Allen finished his tour as chief of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. But Allen’s nomination was suspended after he was ensnared in the scandal that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus.

Allen’s emails with Jill Kelley, the woman who sparked the FBI inquiry that uncovered Petraeus’s extramarital affair, became the subject of a Defense Department inspector general investigation.

Allen denied any wrongdoing, and he was ultimately cleared in the investigation.

The White House said it would renominate Allen for the European post, but he opted instead to retire from the military, citing his wife’s declining health.

Obama in a statement said Breedlove has established trust and deep relations with our NATO allies and partners, “assets he will draw upon in taking on this important new role on behalf of the United States and the Alliance.”

Breedlove is currently commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of NATO’s Allied Air Command.

NATO approved his nomination on Thursday and said he is expected to take over in spring 2013 if confirmed by the Senate.