The Pentagon is getting serious about symbolism:
With the Iraq war over and troops in Afghanistan on their way home, the U.S. military is getting down to brass tacks: culling generals and admirals from its top-heavy ranks.
Pentagon officials said they have eliminated 27 jobs for generals and admirals since March, the first time the Defense Department has imposed such a reduction since the aftermath of the Cold War, when the collapse of the Soviet Union prompted the military to downsize.
The cuts are part of a broader plan to shrink the upper ranks by 10 percent over five years, restoring them to the their size when the country was last at peace, before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The first round of cuts will save around $4 million per year, and so of course is enthusiastically supported by members of a notoriously tightfisted Congress. Even so, some Pentagon critics say the services are slow-rolling the initiative. To that criticism, one senior flag officer replied:
(The) armed services have up to two years to phase out a job targeted for elimination. “You need time to work this,” he added. “You can’t just give people their pink slips.”
Not flag and general officers, certainly, who will retire with generous pension and medical benefits, and have ready access to lucrative business development positions with major defense contractors. The “pink slip” treatment is reserved for mid-grade officers and enlisted personnel, who will be kicked to the curb with The Gratitude of a Thankful Nation, and some counseling on how to write a resume.
No retirement checks, of course. No benefits.
No doubt, as Admiral Lord Nelson was wont to say, their love of country will keep them warm.