High-ranking generals and admirals earn their stars. They earn their stripes. Then, they earn their cash. New research by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)found 70 percent (or 76) of the 108 three-and-four star generals and admirals who retired between 2009 and 2011 took jobs with defense contractors or consultants. In at least a few cases, the retirees have continued to advise the Department of Defense while on the payroll of defense contractors, suggesting the Pentagon may not always be receiving unbiased counsel.
In 2011 alone, the Department of Defense committed to spending nearly $100 billion with the five largest defense contractors - Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman. At least nine of the top-level generals and admirals who retired between 2009 and 2011 took positions with those five companies. In addition, 12 generals who retired during that period have gone on to work for Burdeshaw Associates, a “rent-a-general” consulting firm specializing in helping companies obtain defense contracts. Burdeshaw’s clients have included Northrop Grumman.