In another black eye for the U.S. military this week, a retiring four-star general who headed the U.S. Africa Command was demoted to three stars for spending thousands of dollars on travel and other expenses that weren’t authorized.
Gen. William “Kip” Ward, who planned to retire next April, was demoted Tuesday by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a move that will cost Ward $30,000 a year in retirement pay, the Associated Press reported.
As a four-star general, Ward would have commanded $236,650 annually in retirement pay. The demotion knocks his payments to $208,802 a year and Ward will retire as a three-star lieutenant general.
In a report released last year by the Defense Department Inspector General, Ward was accused of having his wife go on shopping and spa trips using military vehicles and having the government foot the bill for a refueling stop in Bermuda. Ward and his wife stayed at a $750 suite on the island.
Ward had explanations for the spending but the government found evidence that contradicted his claims, according to the AP.
The report also found that Ward cost the government $129,000 in expenses for an 11-day trip to Washington and Atlanta. Only three days of the trip were part of official business, NBC News reported.
The military is trying to recoup $82,000 from Ward.
Ward spokesman Chris Garrett responded vaguely to the demotion.
"While General 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,” Garrett said in a statement, adding that the general "has never been motivated by personal gain and fulfilled each and every mission assigned to him and served his country and the men and women assigned to his commands with distinction."
Ward’s demotion comes during a week when CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus resigned following revelations he had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
The affair came to light after military liaison Jill Kelley said she received “threatening” e-mails from Broadwell, who viewed Kelley as a rival for the married Petraeus. An FBI investigation into the e-mails uncovered the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell.
Also ensnared in the probe was Gen. John Allen, who heads military operations in Afghanistan. The FBI investigation found Allen engaged in “inappropriate” e-mail conversations with Kelley.