You don't see this every day: Four-star Army Gen. William "Kip" Ward is under investigation for burning through hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on lavish travel and hotels, according to The Associated Press' Lolita C. Baldor, and as a result, Ward is just biding his time in what's basically a timeout. In this case, taking a mundane desk job in Northern Virginia as the investigation plays out. As Baldor describes it, the place sounds a lot like New York City's infamous "rubber rooms" for teaches accused of breaking the rules:
Ward stepped down early last year after serving as the first head of the Europe-based Africa Command, which was created in 2007, and he intended to retire. He did all the paperwork and was hosted at a retirement ceremony in April 2011 at Fort Myer in Virginia, but the Army halted his plans to leave because of the investigation.
Ever since then, he has been working in Northern Virginia, serving as a special assistant to the vice chief of the Army. That Army office long has been used as a holding area for general officers of varying ranks. For some it's a way station where senior officers under investigation go to await their fate.
It sounds like Ward was this close to pulling a George Costanza and going out (i.e. retiring) on top. But he doesn't appear to be getting off that easy. The AP says he's accused of spending "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." Those are some serious allegations, especially considering he's a four-star general, the highest rank in the Army. If he's demoted and forced to retire at a lower rank, The AP says it could cost him $1 million in retirement pay.