Retired Generals and Admirals Cash In with Lucrative Jobs with Defense Contractors

Monday, November 26, 2012
Vice Admiral David “Jack” Dorsett

Spending decades in the military for the nation’s top generals and admirals usually results in these officers cashing in their knowledge and experience—and connections—for high-paying positions with defense contractors.


About 70% of the three- and four-star generals and admirals who retired between 2009 and 2011 went on to join defense companies or became consultants, according to a new report from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).


CREW also found that in some cases, the retired commanders were still advising the Department of Defense while on the payroll of defense contractors, raising questions of potential conflicts of interest.


This habit of the Pentagon’s top brass is not illegal. “Nonetheless, their heavily traveled path through the military-industrial complex continues to raise important questions about the intersection of national security and the interests of private companies that stand to make billions of dollars,” CREW wrote in their report.


While still in the military, these generals and admirals can earn from $164,000 to $179,000 a year. Once they accept jobs or board positions with defense contractors, the retirees can earn as much if not more than their old military paychecks.


For example, former Marine Corps General James Cartwright was elected to the Raytheon Co. board of directors after retiring. In this capacity, Cartwright received $85,000 as an annual cash retainer, plus $1,500 for each board meeting he attended, and $120,000 worth of restricted stock grants.


Vice Admiral David “Jack” Dorsett, the director of naval intelligence, retired on August 1, 2011, and immediately took a job as vice president of cybersecurity with defense contractor Northrop Grumman. Seven months later, Northrop Grumman won a $16.3 million contract to provide cybersecurity and information operations support for the Navy.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Strategic Maneuvers: The Revolving Door from the Pentagon to the Private Sector (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) (pdf)

Star Creeps: Petraeus & the Price of the Top-Heavy Pentagon (by Ben Freeman, Project on Government Oversight)

Food Supply Company, Employing Former Head of Defense Contracting Agency, Wins $4 Billion No-Bid Contract (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov0

Is Being a General Just a Resume-Builder on the Road to Wealth? (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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