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A senior military officer who had an affair while deputy commander of North America’s early-warning system is leaving the military.

Lieutenant-General Christopher Coates announced his pending departure in a message to service members Monday morning, weeks after the affair with an American civilian while he was second-in-command at NORAD headquarters in Colorado became public.

“Last week I asked the [chief of the defence staff] for my release,” Lt.-Gen. Coates wrote in his message, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

“I want to emphasize that this is my decision. After much reflection, I made this decision for my own personal reasons, including what I believe would be in the best interests of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

The Department of National Defence has said Lt.-Gen. Coates did not violate any rules as the civilian was not under his command, and that he reported the affair to American and Canadian officials.

The affair nonetheless cast a spotlight on Lt.-Gen. Coates, who was not mentioned in the military’s recent round of postings and retirements for senior military officers, raising questions about his future.

Lt.-Gen. Coates returned to Canada from Colorado last year to take over as commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, which is responsible for running all military operations in Canada and around the world.

Then earlier this month, Rear Admiral J.R. Auchterlonie was promoted to vice-admiral and was named as the new commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command and there was no mention of what would happen to Lt.-Gen. Coates.

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