Friday, August 27, 2010

Generals hate cutback plan

Sorry, I was too sick to blog last night, but this is worth reading this morning. As you may recall DefSec Gates called for thinning the ranks of top brass at the Pentagon. Unsurprisingly, Pentagon top brass hate the idea.
Pentagon officials said the measures were aimed at more than a number. Mr. Gates said he wanted to flatten a bureaucracy that had experienced significant “brass creep,” swelling to “cumbersome and top-heavy proportions.” He complained, for example, that a request to send a dog-handling team to Afghanistan goes through no fewer than five four-star headquarters. [...]

According to the Pentagon, there are now 963 generals and admirals leading the armed forces, about 100 more than on Sept. 11, 2001. Meanwhile, the overall number of active duty personnel has declined to some 1.5 million from 2.2 million in 1985, even though the Army and Marine Corps have grown since the Sept. 11 attacks, to carry out the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It's not even that these guys make all that money.
The salary cap for generals is about $180,000, up from $130,000 a decade ago, according to Todd Harrison at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a private research group in Washington. Like all officers and enlisted personnel, generals have the benefit of the military pension system, which gives everybody who serves 40 years a pension equal to their full pay.
It's their support staff that cost the taxpayers so much.
Salaries and benefits, however, are the least of it. The biggest costs are created by the generals’ staffs — including security details, senior advisers, communications teams, schedulers and personal aides. Mr. Harrison said that the annual cost of salary, benefits and staff for each of the military’s highest-ranking generals and admirals — 40 four-star and 146 three-star — easily exceeded $1 million.
The interviewed generals are peeved that they're being charged with a culture of entitlement. But what the hell do they do all day? Their war strategies haven't exactly been a brilliant success except for military contractors. And I'm betting these same guys are out there suggesting union pensioners should get cut off because "we just can't afford to pay them anymore."

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