Opinion: It’s Time to Rein-In Our Generals

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There is no more patriotic an Editorial Board in any newspaper in America than the editors at USA Herald. We love our country; we are admittedly biased toward support of our military unless proven abjectly wrong and we stand with our troops and respect and honor their service and sacrifice. Despite our passion and support of our troops, we believe it is time for Congress to act and require an even greater commitment and an elevated standard of behavior from our military’s highest leaders.

We will NEVER question the motivation of those that serve in any public service capacity, especially the military. However, regardless of motivation, if the result of that service leads to a convoluted and even perverted sense of duty immediately following the end of that service, then it forces any proper thinking individual to wonder about the motivations and decisions that immediately preceded the initial retirement years of those serving. Of course, this is the time when the power of those in question is at its zenith.

The military has long been one of the greatest networking, mentor-protégé type organizations ever established. It only makes sense that good leaders would seek to find the best leaders to serve under them and promote these protégés along the way as they themselves are promoted. However, when one’s mentor becomes a highly-paid consultant (aka lobbyist) for a company from which your branch of service buys billions of dollars’ worth of goods and services, and that mentor recruits you to join him when your service expires, it only leads to the impression that the next step for the new generation of leaders is to cash in too.

Gone are the days when our generals returned home to quiet lives of retirement, farms, universities, military academies, family businesses or even non-defense related corporate America. We believe that men still serve for services’ sake as we find it doubtful that many would sign up for military duty only for the possibility that they could one day become a consultant for a defense contractor. Yet, when this happens time and time again, it changes the perspective of those in high-level service. Worse still, it tarnishes the perceptions the rest of us have of these men when we see it happen repeatedly.

In this case, however, we believe the negative perception of Generals moving from the military to the contractor world is actually far less dangerous than the reality of it. In other words, this dog’s bite is much nastier than his bark! In truth, the Vietnam era complaints of incestuousness and self-serving interests of the military–industrial complex, and indeed, the corruption alleged by liberals of the day has been entirely validated by the actions of our retiring generals.

A recent report by RT News confirmed that 70 percent of the admirals and generals who retired between 2009 and 2011 became consultants to defense contractors. This shocking statistic doesn’t even cover the more frightening fact of the additional contracts of the same population that may have become consultants or advocates for foreign governments.

The startling revelation and lack of initial disclosure that followed retired Lt. General Mike Flynn’s resignation as the Head of the NSA only underscore how little we know about our military leaders when they leave the service with vast knowledge of our American defense systems and policy. Flynn’s work involved advocacy for a foreign government, something that should be an obvious disqualifier for any man about to become the head one of the nation’s most powerful intelligence agencies.

If honor, duty and country and the retirement packages for generals are not enough to motivate these men and women to live non-conflicting if not virtuous lives post-retirement, then Congress needs to mandate it. Our heroes who serve at the very highest levels of our military owe it to the men they leave behind in service to live their retirement years not bastardizing themselves as advocates for the manufacturers of the weapons they used in service, much less the nations for whom we fought with or against. This standard is, admittedly, incredibly high but it is one worthy of the men and women who hold the rank of General or Admiral. This may be the very highest standard in the world, and it is what our military leaders should demand of themselves, their predecessors and their successors.

We believe that if these steps are not taken and taken soon, the U.S military will merely come to replicate the disgusting prostitution of public service and the revolving door of Congress to K Street. The American people expect more from their military leaders. Congress should demand more from our military leaders (and of themselves, but we have long given up on that) and our military leaders themselves should demand nothing but the highest standards of themselves.

These are, remember, our heroes, and it is only our goal that we can keep honoring them with hero status. None have done anything wrong here or violated any rules, we merely think the perception is so bad it must be addressed now. Anything less would not befit the tradition and legacies that we all hold so dear.