US general demoted over 5-star hotel spending

WASHINGTON - A four-star general who headed US Africa Command has been demoted amid charges he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on pricey travel, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta demoted General William "Kip" Ward, who was asked to reimburse $82,000 for having inappropriately used Pentagon travel funds, a senior defense official said on condition of anonymity.

The four-star general "will retire at the rank of lieutenant general," a three-star post, a second senior defense official said.

The travel mishaps included bringing Ward's wife on extended business trips, according to a Defense Department Inspector General's report released in June.

One in Bermuda involved a suite for $747 a night at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess. And his wife also allegedly made unauthorized use of armored vehicles.

Ward, the first AFRICOM commander from 2007-2011 based in Stuttgart, has denied the allegations. He currently serves as a special assistant to the US Army's vice chief of staff.

The inspector general's report found that Ward took an 11-day trip to Washington and Atlanta with his military entourage that cost $129,000 and of which only three days were for official business. The primary purpose of the trip was personal.

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