By Joe Gould - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Aug 17, 2012 14:37:57 EDT
The report says he used military vehicles to shuttle his wife shopping and to spas, and billed the government for a refueling stop overnight in Bermuda, where the couple stayed in a $750 suite.
In January 2011, Ward allegedly took an 11-day trip to Washington and Atlanta with an entourage of 13 military and civilian personnel which cost $129,000, and he conducted less than three days of official business, the report states.
During the trip, Ward visited wounded warriors one day, spent 90 minutes at Forces Command on another day and attended a meeting at the State Department a third day, the report states. He told investigators he met with members of Congress during the trip, but they found no evidence to support the claim.
The 99-page investigative report released by the Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office on Aug. 17, under a Freedom of Information Act request, concludes Ward, “engaged in multiple forms of misconduct related to official and unofficial travel.”
One incident involved Joyce Ward asking a staff member to go buy her a bag of “dark chocolate Snickers” bars, saying the general would provide “a couple of dollars” for it.
Ward’s responses to the allegations are contained in the report. He denies committing any impropriety and accused his accusers of “character assassination.” He defended the Bermuda layover as a “crew stop” and blamed his staff for making the decision to stay there rather than flying on to Stuttgart, Germany-based Africa Command.
The report describes how Ward spent several hundred thousand dollars allowing unauthorized people, including family members, to fly on government planes, and spent excessive amounts of money on hotel rooms, transportation and other expenses when he traveled as head of Africa Command.
“He misused his position and his subordinates’ time, Government funds, and rental vehicles,” the report states. “He failed to use a [government travel charge card] as required and received reimbursement for travel expenses that exceeded the per diem rates without actual expense allowance approvals. Finally, he improperly accepted gifts from a prohibited source.”
In one case, his request to use military aircraft for a personal trip was denied, so he abruptly changed the trip to an official one, adding a quick meeting, and went anyway.
In numerous other cases, he and his wife used staff and government-rented cars to run errands, pick up flowers, books, snacks and event tickets.
Ward faces possible demotion following a 17-month investigation, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to make a final decision on the matter before the end of the month, The Associated Press reported, citing several unnamed defense officials.
The report recommends the Army secretary, John McHugh, take “appropriate action,” and conduct an analysis of whether Ward should reimburse the government for his travel expenses.
Further, it recommends the defense secretary issue guidance to combatant commanders regarding military travel and reassess the size of security details assigned to “high-risk personnel.”