A top U.S. Air Force commander, General Philip Breedlove, has emerged as the leading contender to become NATO's supreme allied commander after Marine General John Allen withdrew his name from consideration this week, a NATO official told Reuters on Thursday.
Allen, who was caught up but later cleared in the scandal that forced CIA chief David Petraeus to resign last year, commanded U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan until Feb. 10 and had been President Barack Obama's nominee for the U.S. military's top job in Europe.
But on Tuesday, Allen announced his intention to retire, citing his wife's health.
It is unclear when Obama will announce a new nominee.
Breedlove is currently the commander of U.S. Air Force units in Europe and Africa and a former vice chief of staff of the Air Force. During his long military career, he commanded a fighter squadron, an operations group and three fighter wings.
A biography on the Air Force's website describes Breedlove as a command pilot with 3,500 flying hours, primarily in the F-16 fighter jet.