The Army's top military officer is pointing out that punishing a four-star general through demotion can be harsh, forcing the officer to lose as much as $1 million in retirement pay.

At issue is how former Africa Command head Gen. William Ward will be reprimanded. A Pentagon report says Ward spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on lavish travel and other expenses.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno tells reporters that he takes bad behavior by officers very seriously and insists there is no "good old boy" network that protects general officers in determining discipline. But he also noted that the loss of one star in rank would be a significant loss. Odierno suggests that lower level officers would never be asked to pay such a high price.