A two-star US Army general in the US Africa Command may have been fired on March 28 for inappropriate contact and sexual harassment, possibly fueled by alcohol. On Thursday, the Department of Defense acknowledged that Maj. Gen. Ralph Baker, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, was ordered fired by the US commanding general in Africa, Gen. Carter Ham.
Defense officials told CNN that Baker was fired for “loss of confidence” in his ability to do his job, and they acknowledged that he will appeal. In fact, Baker has already taken his appeal to US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
However, the Associated Press said that anonymous officials told them that Baker was actually axed because of misconduct involving alcohol and sex, including sexual harassment. The AP said that the officials would only speak if their identities were concealed, because they weren’t authorized to comment.
In addition to being fired, Baker may have been heavily fined a portion of his pay, although Department of Defense officials wouldn’t say how much the misconduct has cost the former general.
The new Army general firing comes amid a swirl of investigations and scandal that has haunted US Army operations in Africa for months.
Former four-star general Kip Ward, former head of the Africa command, was at the center of a spending spree scandal just a few months ago. He lost a star and was forced to retire as a three-star general after he was allegedly caught in the act of more or less bilking the Army to fund his lavish lifestyle.
For example, he was accused of taking an 11-day trip to Washington and Atlanta, not normally particularly pricey destinations, that cost the taxpayers $109,000 — and only three days of the lavish trip actually involved any Army business. After a closer look, the Army said that Ward had extended trips seven times for personal reasons, each time then applying for and receiving reimbursement for those costs.
One of those trips allegedly included a notorious week in Bermuda, where his wife came along and took an unauthorized joyride in at least one armored vehicle.
The new firing of yet another US Army general could mean that the Africa Command is cleaning house.
[army in Africa photo courtesy US Army]