Recently outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has made a number of public comments regarding reducing the defense budget. He has already cut a number of weapons programs and proposed the reduction or elimination of more. He has also suggested strongly that changes should be made in personnel programs for current or retired service members and their families in medical benefits, pay, and retirement (for current active service members). All of his recommendations require congressional and or executive branch approvals to achieve savings to reduce the budget deficit.
One program that he could cut with the stroke of his pen is the Pentagon’s Senior Mentors Program. While we are considering cutting benefits to enlisted soldiers (active and retired) and their families the Senior Mentors Program has more than 150 retired three and four star admirals and generals being paid up to $179,000 per year (up to $440 per hour) while also collecting full retirement benefits of up to $220,000 per year. In addition, each of these “mentors” are permitted to be on the payroll of a defense contractor; a conflict of interest waiting to happen as they spy and advocate for their defense contractor employers.
Secretary Gates should terminate this program that facilitates these war profiteers masquerading as mentors before the Pentagon experiences an embarrassment at best and a scandal at worst.
Major General (Ret.) Dennis Laich is the Director of the PATRIOTS Program (www.ODUPatriots.com) for veterans at Ohio Dominican University.
This entry is cross-posted at Generally Speaking.