Major General sacked after alcohol, sexual misconduct charges
Maj. Gen. Ralph Baker, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, was fired from his command last Thursday after an administrative hearing on alcohol and sexual misconduct charges.
Baker has appealed the administrative action to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. But since senior commanders such as Ham have broad latitude in decisions to relieve subordinates of command, Hagel's decision may focus more on the financial punishment doled out by Ham, officials said.
Details of how much his pay was docked were not released.
The allegations against Baker involve harassment and inappropriate contact, said the officials, who were not authorized to talk publicly about the case so spoke on condition of anonymity.
Baker took over the task force, based at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, last May and was scheduled to leave the job in the near future.
He has returned to Washington and is temporarily serving as a special assistant to the director of the Army staff while he awaits Hagel's decision. Such special assistant posts are routinely used as way stations for general officers who are under investigation and awaiting their fate, or for others who have been promoted and are waiting for their new job to open up.
Ham is retiring and is scheduled to turn over his command to Army Gen. David Rodriguez in a ceremony Friday.
Ham's predecessor, Army Gen. William "Kip" Ward, was demoted in rank from four stars to three, and retired as a lieutenant general after investigators determined that he had misused government funds for lavish spending while heading U.S. Africa Command.
There have been a string of sexual misconduct charges against general officers and Congress doesn't think that the military justice system is dealing adequately with the problem:
In particular, a recent decision by Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin to reverse the sexual assault conviction against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, a former inspector general at Aviano Air Base in Italy, infuriated senators. And it triggered calls for a harder look at the military's justice system.
Hagel has ordered a review of Franklin's decision, but he has told members of Congress that neither he nor the Air Force secretary is empowered to overrule Franklin, who is the commander of the 3rd Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
I don't think it's a problem with the military justice system. The problem is general officers who still think it's the 1980's. Behavior that was tolerated or swept under the rug back then is prosecuted today. Until senior officers realize the changed landscape in personal relations with staff, we'll probably have more of these incidents.