ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army’s surgeon general is stepping down amid the controversy over sub-standard conditions for outpatient veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, officials said Monday.

The Army said in a news release that Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley submitted his request to retire Sunday. A senior Defense official said acting Army Secretary Peter Geren asked Kiley to retire.

Kiley said he decided to retire because it was “in the best interest of the Army,” the news release says.

“I want to allow Acting Secretary Geren, General Schoomaker, and the leaders of the Army Medical Command to focus completely on the way ahead and the Army Action Plan to improve all aspects of soldier care,” Kiley said in the news release.

He is the latest casualty of the Walter Reed scandal, which has seen the commander of Walter Reed lose his command and Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey resign.

The Washington Post first exposed deplorable conditions for outpatients at Walter Reed, including bugs, mice and mold in Building 18, which housed 76 soldiers recovering from war wounds.

Kiley’s initial response was to downplay the Washington Post stories, calling them “one-sided.”

“While we have some issues here, this is not a horrific, catastrophic failure at Walter Reed,” Kiley told reporters after the story broke.

Later, when he was asked about how he was unaware of the conditions at Walter Reed, Kiley told lawmakers, “I don’t do barracks inspections at Walter Reed.”

Deputy Surgeon General Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock has assumed the position as surgeon general, the news release says. Geren also has ordered an advisory board convene to pick the next surgeon general.

Whichever officer the board chooses must be approved by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate, the news release says.

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