Amid two high profile defense scandals, this is the third case of misconduct by a US general. Head of US Africa Command, General William Ward has been stripped of one of his stars resulting in his demotion by Defense Secretaryon Tuesday.
Ward has been accused of spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and unauthorized expenses. In addition to his demotion he is also required to repay $82,000 to the government. The demotion case comes amid resignation of Army Generalfrom CIA after his extramarital affair surfaced and Marine Gen. John Allen’s ongoing investigation over improper communication with a woman.
“Secretary Panetta insists that leaders within the Department of Defense exemplify both professional excellence and sound judgment," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement. "The secretary is committed to ensuring that any improprieties or misconduct by senior officers are dealt with swiftly and appropriately."
A spokesman for General Ward says that the general has always served the people of his country with commitment and distinction and has never tried to get personal gains from any mission assigned to him. "While Gen. Ward is not perfect he has always been guided by his faith in God and the belief that there is no greater honor as a patriot than to lead those who choose to serve our nation in the armed forces," spokesman Chris Garrett said in a statement.
According to defense officials, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey tried to convince Panetta to allow Ward to retire with all his stars. Retiring with one star less, Ward will get $30,000 less in retirement pay which will equal to $208,802 instead of $236,650 a year.
Details of his lavish spending have been outlined in a report with shows the General used military vehicles to send his wife to shopping trips and a beauty spa, while billing the government for a refueling stop in Bermuda where the couple stayed in a $750 suite. The general is also charged with extending his oversea trips resulting in very large increase to costs and also for accepting a dinner and tickets to Broadway from a government contractor.
Ward tried to shed off allegations a number of times, however, officials involved in investigating his case found his statement contradictory. The allegations, that come after a 17 month long investigation have undoubtedly put a shameful end note to Ward’s career.