'Rent-a-General' Business Is Booming for Contractors

When officers retire, the vast majority pick up lucrative consulting jobs
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2010 2:06 PM CST
This undated handout photo provided by General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada shows an RG-31 vehicle. For retired generals, advising on weapons development and procurement is a profitable business.   (AP Photo/General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada)

(Newser) – For America's military generals, retirement is when the real money starts pouring in. It's no secret that former officers often show up on the payrolls of defense contractors, but a Boston Globe investigation into what it terms the "rent-a-general" business puts some eyebrow-raising numbers to the trend: 80% of retiring three- and four-star officers went to work as consultants or defense executives in 2004-'08. That's up from 50% a decade ago.

What's more, many work for defense contractors and as consultants to the Pentagon, a conflict of interest met with shrugs. Another: Defense firms routinely begin recruiting generals while they're still in the military. “We are changing the perception and maybe the reality of what it means to be a general,’’ a retired Air Force officer tells the Globe. "The fundamental question is whether this is shaping the acquisition system and influencing what the Pentagon buys. I think the answer is yes." Read the full investigation here.

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