WASHINGTON – Army Secretary John McHugh said Monday he will soon decide whether Gen. William “Kip” Ward, accused of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel funds, should repay the money.
Whether Ward and another general recently accused of bullying staff — Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, former head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency — get to retire at their final ranks will be the decision of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
In a joint press conference with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, McHugh said he expected to decide within 10 days whether Ward, the former commander of U.S. Africa Command, must return misused funds to the Department of Defense.
According to a report by the DOD Inspector General report, Ward was reimbursed for personal travel expenses and gifts, and allowed his wife to travel on military aircraft “without sufficient justifications,” among other alleged improprieties.
Odierno denied that top generals get slaps on the wrist for offenses that lower-ranking officers or junior enlisted personnel would receive harsh punishment for.
"Whether it’s a private or a general, we take them all incredibly seriously,” Odierno said. “This is not a good old boy network.”
If Ward were forced to retire with three stars, rather than with the four he wore as AFRICOM commander, it would be a major financial hit, Odierno said.
“Going from 4 to 3 stars is a million-dollar cost,” Odierno said. “I’ve never heard of a private getting fined a million dollars.”