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US Africa Command chief laments depletion of trust amid scandal in top military ranks

The head of U.S. Africa Command says the "shortcomings" of any top military leader reflect badly on the entire officer corps.

With America's top ranks ensnared in scandal, Gen. Carter Ham told reporters in Paris on Wednesday that such cases "undermine the trust" that officers receive from service members and the public.

A day earlier, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta demoted Gen. William "Kip" Ward after he was accused spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and other unauthorized expenses.

Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus has resigned as CIA director because of an extramarital affair and Marine Gen. John Allen is being investigated for improper communications with a woman.

Ham said "any taint on an individual has a tendency to blemish the institution — and it's unhelpful."

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