WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press has learned that a four-star Army general who was the first head of the new U.S. Africa Command is under investigation and facing demotion for possibly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars improperly on lavish travel, hotels and other items.

Several defense officials said Wednesday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected soon to decide the fate of Gen. William “Kip” Ward.

Officials said Ward is facing numerous allegations that he allowed unauthorized people, including family members, to fly on government planes, and that he spent excessive amounts of money on hotel rooms, transportation and other expenses. A demotion could cost Ward about $1 million in retirement pay.

A request seeking comment from Ward was not immediately fulfilled.

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