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US defence secretary Panetta demotes US general

world Updated: Nov 14, 2012 11:43 IST

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US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has demoted a former head of the Africa command on charges of lavish travel and spending.

General William Ward, former Commander of US Africa Command, would now be retired at the grade of Lieutenant General, the Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said yesterday while informing reporters on the decision taken by Panetta in this regard.

"The Department of the Army will also seek to recoup roughly USD 82,000 in expenses stemming from General Ward's misconduct in travel, misuse of military aircraft, misuse of staff, and the receipt of reimbursements to which he was not entitled," he said.

In June, the Department of Defence Inspector General issued a report of investigation substantiating that General Ward had engaged in numerous substantiated acts of misconduct related to misuse of government funds during his tenure as Commander of US Africa Command.

Since departing US Africa Command, by operation of law General Ward reverted to the grade of Major General and is currently serving as a Special Assistant to the Army Vice Chief of Staff in that grade.

"Panetta insists that leaders within the Department of Defence exemplify both professional excellence and sound judgement," Little said, adding that Panetta is committed to ensuring that any improprieties or misconduct by senior officers are dealt with swiftly and appropriately.