defence Secretary Leon Panetta has demoted four-star General William E. Ward over allegations that he spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a lavish lifestyle while head of U.S. Army Africa Command (AFRICOM), Lolita Baldor of The Associated Press reports.Ward will retire as a three-star lieutenant general, in spite of America’s top military officer arguing against the demotion, and will also repay the government $82,000.
The demotion comes four days after retired four-star Army Gen. David Petraeus resigned as CIA director because of an extramarital affair and one day after it was announced that four-star Marine Gen. John Allen is being investigated for improper communications with the woman who prompted the investigation that ousted Petraeus.
Here is a recap of Ward’s alleged misconduct:
- $129,000 on an 11-day trip to Washington with his wife and 13 staff where he only had short engagements on the first three days of the trip. The cost covers the hotel and ‘other’ costs such as transportation.
- $10,000 on hotel rooms for himself and staff during a ‘refueling stop’ in Bermuda on the way to an engagement in Germany. He and his wife stayed in a $750 suite. The bill does not include transport or other costs.
- $18,500 on producing and publishing 2,000 books about the Command’s plush residence in Germany and its first three years of work.
- One staffer stayed in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in McLean, Virginia for 49 consecutive nights in early 2010 — even though Ward was in the area for just 18 of the nights.
- Use of government-rented vehicles to run errands including collecting flowers, books, football game tickets and snacks.
- Dinner and a Broadway show — paid for by a government contractor — before meeting Denzel Washington and staying in the five-star Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
- Wife joined him on 52 of his 79 trips even though she had no official capacity.
- Ward also set official meetings after being refused the use of military aircraft for personal travel.
Retiring as a three-star will cost Ward nearly $30,000 a year in retirement pay — giving him about $208,802 a year rather than the $236,650 he would get as a four-star.
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