Panetta stripped Gen. William “Kip” Ward of a star Tuesday (Nov. 13), demoting him down to a three-star general, thanks to lavish government spending sprees.
In light of this latest damaging story, Panetta made it clear that the choices of select members do not reflect the entire Department of Defense. “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.”
Ward, a former head of U.S. Africa Command is accused of spending military money and vehicles to take his wife shopping, to a spa, and on a trip to Bermuda where the couple stayed in a $750 a night suite. During a trip to Washington, Ward, his wife, Joyce, and his staff members used a five-vehicle motorcade, according to a report by the Defense Department.
The couple also received tickets to a Broadway show where they went back stage and met with Denzel Washington, and also stayed at the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel, all on the government's dime.
A spokesperson for Ward noted that he is “not perfect” but maintained that 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.”
News of his demotion is more than just a blow to his career, but will cost him nearly $30,000 a year in retirement pay. As a result Wards take home pay will be $208,802 instead of $236,650. He must also pay the government back $82,000.
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