The Tampa Socialite Who Stole CENTCOM’s Christmas

Gen. John Allen, ISAF Commander. Photo courtesy of the DoD.

The fallout continues from former CIA director David Petraeus’ affair with his biographer. A report, by the Associated Press in the Tampa Tribune, cites a source who suggests the annual U.S. Central Command holiday party has been cancelled due to the high visibility of the broadening scandal.

Jill Kelley is the Tampa socialite who first alerted the FBI about threatening emails she received that eventually revealed Petraeus’ affair. That led to an examination of Kelley’s emails with the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen. The FBI referred those “reportedly” thousands of emails between Kelley and Allen to the Department of Defense Inspector General which is investigating.

But, Kelley was known by the top brass beyond Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base. Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman reports she received the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s second-highest award for civilians:

Kelley was recognized for “outstanding public service to the United States Central Command, the MacDill Air Force Base community and the Department of Defense from October 31, 2008 to May 31, 2010,” according to the award citation. “Mrs. Kelley distinguished herself by exceptional service while supporting the mission of the United Central Command, building positive relationships between the military and the Tampa community, supporting community outreach, and advancing various military endeavors.”

The citation also states that Kelley’s “willingness to host engagements with Senior National Representatives from more than 60 countries was indicative of her support for both the Coalition’s effort and the mission of United States Central Command.”

Gen. Allen’s nomination to be Commander of United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe is on hold pending the Inspector General’s investigation.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has asked the Senate to “act promptly” on the nomination of General Joseph Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, to succeed General Allen at ISAF.

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