Reader letters Jan. 25

Jan 24, 2013

Righting the record on military pay

To the editor:

In a recent letter to the editor a gentleman wrote about re-examining defense spending. The author made statements about military generals that were misleading and false.

He said he got that information from a Washington Post article.  Regardless, the statements were misleading and in at least one case false.

He stated “active generals receive perks befitting a billionaire (such as) palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aids to carry their bags and press their uniforms (and) food prepared by gourmet chef.  Once retired, they get a $220,000 pension......”

First let me address the false statement.  Generals and admirals (flag officers) do not get $220,000 pensions.  Flag officer’s salaries basic pay is limited by Level II of the Executive Schedule which is $179,701.20 per year.  Of the roughly 900 flag officers in all the armed services, there are only 39 four star flag officers.

With possibly a few exceptions, only the four-star officers reach the Level II Executive Schedule limit. They can not have a retired pay in excess of their active duty pay.

Military retired pay is too complicated to explain here. If you are interested Google military retired pay.

The bottom line is that the vast majority of flag officers retire with closer to a little more than half of what was claimed by the Washington Post article.

Now I will address the “perks befitting a billionaire.”

The 39 four-star flag officers will most likely have drivers, security guards and aids.  Consider their responsibilities and need for security. However, the vast majority of flag officers do not have these perks.

Sixty/seventy years ago those perks were more common. but not today.  As far as palatial homes, again, most don’t come close.

Most flag officers live in residential communities.  The Commandant of the Marine Corps lives in an historical large home in Washington D.C., but he is the head of the entire Marine Corps.

Regarding the gourmet chiefs: I don’t know about the heads of the services, but I do know that the overwhelming majority of flag officers do not have chiefs, they live in residential communities with their families like most of us.

W. C. Courtney

Captain, USN (Ret)


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