A four-star general and former head of the U.S. Africa Command is under investigation for allegedly misspending hundreds of thousands of dollars on hotels, travel, and a host of lavish amenities. Gen. William “Kip” Ward, who has been under investigation for about 17 months, retired but was retained on active duty in Virginia to serve as an assistant to the vice chief of the Army.
Disciplinary action is still up in the air, but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to issue a decision after a report by the Defense Department inspector general is released; it is unclear whether Ward will face criminal charges. Panetta’s decision is confined by a string of military guidelines and circuitous laws, and he will have to vouch to Congress that Ward served competently at the rank at which he is retired.
The general could be demoted to a three-star rank, which would purportedly cost him up to a million dollars in retirement pay over time. It is unlikely that he would be demoted to two-star, officials claim, because investigators would have to resolve that Ward also misspent money prior to his transfer to the Africa Command.
Allegations regarding Gen. Ward’s misconduct include permitting unauthorized people, including family members, to fly on government planes and spending exorbitant amounts of federal dollars on transportation, hotel rooms, and other expenses, when he headed the Africa Command.
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Photo of Gen. William "Kip" Ward receiving the rank of four-star general: AP Images