Former AFRICOM general demoted over excessive spending

 Gen. William “Kip” Ward  had served as head of the U.S. Africa Command. Gen. William “Kip” Ward had served as head of the U.S. Africa Command. Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday demoted former Gen. William “Kip” Ward, who had served as head of the U.S. Africa Command, following allegations of “unauthorized expenses” and “lavish travel,” the Associated Press reported.

Ward, the first head of the Stuttgart, Germany-based U.S AFRICOM, was investigated for excessive spending, including his family’s unauthorized use of government planes, hotel stays and miscellaneous expenses during official trips. The Defense Department’s inspector general report released to Federal News Radio found that Ward brought his wife and 13 aides on an 11-day trip that cost taxpayers $129,000, but he conducted official business on only three of those days. AP reported Ward must repay the government $82,000.

AP reported in August that Ward intended to retire from the military in April 2011, but the Army held up the process because of the investigation. He was most recently working as the special assistant to the vice chief of the Army, a position the AP called a “holding area” for military officials under investigation.

The demotion means Ward will retire as a three-star lieutenant general instead of a four-star general, which according to the AP could mean a difference of as much as $1 million in retirement pay.
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