General Ward Demoted.
This has been a bad week for the leaders of the U.S Armed Forces, as the former head of the U.S. Africa Command, Gen. William “Kip” Ward, has been stripped of a star by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta after an internal investigation revealed that he had inappropriately spent tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for lavish personal vacations and expenses.
Gen. Ward, an African American, had already stepped down as head of the new Africa Command early last year, but he was stopped from retiring—after he had already held a retirement ceremony in April 2011—by Panetta until the Army investigation was complete.
A report by the Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office, released in August, accused Ward of misusing his position, his subordinates’ time, government funds, and rental vehicles. Ward allowed unauthorized people, including family members, to fly on government planes, and spent excessive amounts of money on hotel rooms, transportation and other expenses when he traveled as head of Africa Command. The general even allowed his wife to use military vehicles to shop and visit spas, and he billed the government for a refueling stop overnight in Bermuda, where the couple stayed in a $750 suite—for a trip whose cost exceeded $10,700 for his party of 12, staff and the aircrew.
In addition, in January 2011 Ward allegedly took an 11-day trip to Washington and Atlanta with an entourage of 13 military and civilian personnel which cost $129,000, and he conducted less than three days of official business, the report states.
After the release of the report, Panetta stripped Ward of a star so that he will now retire as a three-star lieutenant general. He will also have to repay the government $82,000.
Of course, the Ward scandal comes at a time when the Obama administration is dealing with the resignation of retired Army Gen. David Petraeus as CIA director because of an extramarital affair and Marine Gen. John Allen is being investigated for allegedly improper communications with a woman.