The Empty Black Uniform

The AP reports, October 5:

Dempsey Opposes 4-Star’s Demotion


WASHINGTON—America’s top military officer is opposing the demotion of a four-star general who is accused of spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on lavish travel and other expenses in a case that has been sitting on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s desk for weeks, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is among those who believe that Gen. William Ward, the former head of U.S. Africa Command, should be allowed to retire at his full four-star general rank, the officials said.

A Defense Department inspector general’s report released in mid-August concluded that Ward “engaged in multiple forms of misconduct related to official and unofficial travel.” It said Ward “conducted official travel for primarily personal reasons,” misused military aircraft and received reimbursement for travel expenses that far exceeded the approved daily military rate without authorization.

Panetta is hearing from all sides as he weighs his options in the case, and he has not made a final decision, officials said.

Other officials have argued that the allegations made against Ward in in the IG report were very serious and that senior officers need to be held accountable. Officials have suggested that similar misconduct by a lower ranking officer or enlisted military member would garner severe punishment or dismissal.

Asked about the matter, Dempsey said Thursday that he doesn’t comment on recommendations he makes to the defense secretary. Pentagon press secretary George Little also declined to comment.

Retiring as a three-star would cost Ward nearly $30,000 a year in retirement pay—giving him about $208,802 a year rather than the $236,650 he would get as a four-star. He also could be required to reimburse the Defense Department for tens of thousands of dollars in flight costs and other expenses that he incurred while at Africa Command.

Several officials described the internal debate on condition of anonymity because it involves sensitive personnel racial issues.

The inspector general’s report found that Ward used military vehicles to shuttle his wife on shopping trips and to a spa and billed the government for a refueling stop overnight in Bermuda, where the couple stayed in a $750 suite, a Defense Department investigation found. It detailed lengthy stays at lavish hotels for Ward, his wife and his staff members, and the use of five-vehicle motorcades when he traveled to Washington.

It also said Ward and his wife, Joyce, accepted dinner and Broadway show tickets from a government contractor during a trip during which he went backstage to meet actor Denzel Washington. The couple and several staff members also spent two nights at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

The allegations, coming after a 17-month investigation, have delayed Ward’s planned April 2011 retirement. And they were an embarrassing end note to his career, since he had claimed a place in history as the military’s first commander of Africa Command.

Panetta’s options regarding Ward are limited by complex laws and military guidelines. He can only demote Ward and force him to retire as a three-star lieutenant general.

In order for Ward to be demoted to two-star rank, investigators would have to conclude that he also had problems before moving to Africa Command, and officials said that does not appear to be the case.

October 13

A reader writes:

I don’t understand the complex regulations that only allow him to be demoted to a two-star general if it can be proved that his misconduct began before he was assigned to Africa. My ex-husband, an Air Force captain, was booted out of the Air Force in the 1980s for being both dishonest and a screw-up, and I have heard of numerous enlisted service members who have been given general discharges or dishonorable discharges for drinking too much and getting into fights, etc.

Despite the general’s lofty rank, why can’t there be an Article 15 hearing to toss him out of the service with NO pension at all? He is supposed to be setting an example of propriety for all of the men and women that he commands, but once again, we see that there are special standards for blacks. Does anybody really believe that this man’s dishonesty did not begin until he was assigned to Africa?

Ed H. writes:

I grew up on military bases around the world. Recently I began working on many of the same bases I remember from the 1960s. The effect of using the U.S. military as a platform for social experimentation is everywhere. Most notable is the insane level of rank inflation. When I was growing up, a full bird colonel was a rarity, and he was most likely a veteran of WWII, Korea, or Vietnam. He was also invariably white, male, in his late forties and he had won his rank over many years. By contrast, in today’s Army everyone is a winner, and rank has been awarded on the basis of race, gender, and bureaucratic performance.

One example might illustrate this. I was standing on the Metro train platform at the Pentagon and I heard two teenage girls behind me. They were doing a perfect imitation of California valley girls. “Oh my god … I mean really … this is just soooo rad … ” It was grating on my nerves and I began moving away from what I assumed were two teenagers. Turning around I saw two women in their twenties, giggling, tossing their hair, snapping gum, looking at People Magazine, and wearing full bird colonel wings on their U.S. Army uniforms.

That a four star black general used the Army as any black might scam any other Federal program isn’t a surprise at all. When thinking about four star General Ward remember that George S. Patton was only promoted to the same rank in April 1945 after having taken the Third Army from Normandy across Europe to complete victory.

James P. writes:

Appropriately enough, the only time General Ward was anywhere near combat was in 1992-93, when Ward, then a Colonel, commanded U.S. troops during the fiasco in Somalia.

Note that he has a chest covered in ribbons even though he has never been shot at directly.

Terry Morris writes:

So we’re going to pay this guy between $208K and $236K a year for his retirement regardless? My, my, my! Isn’t the American taxpaying public generous with … its posterity’s money.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 12, 2012 04:01 PM | Send

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