U.S. Army Gen. William “Kip” Ward, a Black four-star general, was demoted to lieutenant general Nov. 13 and fined $82,000 for lavish and excessive spending while he was at the head of the U.S. Africa Command.
The decision on Ward was delivered Nov. 13 by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta after review of the findings of an inspector general report that concluded Ward engaged in excessive spending while at the top of AFRICOM.
Panetta stripped Ward of a star, meaning he will retire at the lower, three-star rank and receive less in his military pension.
He will lose about $30,000 annually in retirement, netting him about $208,802 a year rather than $236,650 for a retired four-star general.
A spokesman for Ward said he “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.”
“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.
Ward was the first commander of AFRICOM, serving until April 2011. Ward used government vehicles to transport his wife on shopping and spa trips. The cost of accommodations during an overnight refueling stop in Bermuda resulted in Ward and his wife staying in a $750 a night hotel suite. The report cited this as an example of lavish hotel and travel arrangements for the couple and Ward’s staff during his stint as AFRICOM chief.
In addition, Ward and his wife also accepted dinner and Broadway tickets from a defense contractor in violation of government rules. The couple met Denzel Washington backstage after the play and stayed at the Waldorf Astoria hotel with their staff.
The allegations tarnish the otherwise illustrious career of Ward, one of a few African-American generals and the first U.S. commander of AFRICOM.
According to a Department of Defense Inspector General’s released in August after a 17-month investigation, Ward “engaged in multiple forms of misconduct related to official and unofficial travel,” including using military aircraft and allowing his wife, Joyce, to travel on military aircraft and vehicles without authorization or reimbursement; and received travel reimbursement when “the predominant purpose of the travel was personal.”
The case against Ward, a career Army veteran and graduate of Morgan State University, surfaces during a spasm of civilian disciplinary proceedings against U.S. top military commanders.
Also in the administrative crosshairs are:
*Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair for multiple sexual misconduct charges. The counts include forcible sodomy on five women, including female officers who served with him. Pending is a decision on whether to proceed to a court-martial;
*Former Central Intelligence Agency director and former four-star Gen. David H. Petraeus for adultery with his one-time biographer;
* Gen. John Allen, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, for potentially inappropriate communications with Florida socialite Jill Kelley, whose name surfaced during the Petraeus investigation. Allen says he has done nothing wrong and
*Adm. James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, was cautioned by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to exercise better oversight of his staff after an investigation into travel and expense questions, including a trip to a wine dinner in France. Stavridis was cleared of any misconduct.