America

Pentagon Brass 'Squeals' Over Cuts: Wash Post

Pentagon from AF1

hide captionThe Pentagon, as seen from Air Force One, Feb. 12, 2009. 

Charles Dharapak/AP

The fallout from Defense Secretary Bob Gates' announcement that he plans to streamline the Pentagon's operation to reduce costs has evidently set a lot of military brass trembling in their highly polished shoes, according to a Washington Post report.

Gates has caused many generals and admirals and those aspiring to become flag officers to wonder if they will get that additional star they've coveted or a star at all.

A snippet:

"Our headquarters and support bureaucracies — military and civilian alike — have swelled to cumbersome and top-heavy proportions," Gates said in a speech Thursday to the Marines' Memorial Association in San Francisco, adding that the top layers have "grown accustomed to operating with little consideration for cost."

The push has caused some squealing at the Pentagon, as one- and two-star generals and admirals privately fret that they could be forced to retire early. Up-and-coming colonels and captains worry that fewer plum posts will be available.

The description of senior officers billeted to the Pentagon "squealing" is a certainly not a very flattering one but it makes the point that some of the military's most ambitious people are understandably upset.

At its end, the story raises a very important point which needs more exploration. Will the narrowing of the top of the military pyramid accelerate the exit of more junior officers.

Because of the repeated tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military, particularly the Army junior officers, such as captains, have been leaving in relatively high numbers, causing some analysts to worry about the military's ability to sustain its commitments.

Gates' decision to prune back the number of senior officer positions could make some officers decide to leave.

But (Raymond F. DuBois, a defense official during the George W. Bush administration,) ... added that he would be reluctant to cut many one-star jobs, which he said are necessary to keep as career incentives for ambitious colonels and captains.

Of course, there's the countervailing force of a weak private-sector job market which might help keep of those officers in uniform.

Still, an interesting story.

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