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Truthout: Binders Full of Generals

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Rear Admiral Hamlin Tallent (Ret.):
Rear Admiral Tallent went to work for Sentek Global, a defense consulting company with defense program clients such as Space and Naval Warfare

Systems (SPAWAR)General Paul X. Kelley, USMC
General Kelley went to work for one of the largest Washington lobbyist firms, Cassidy and Associates, helping defense companies get their piece of the Pentagon’s budget pie.

Civilian Control

Perhaps some of the resentment against President Obama was that he was one of only a few president sin history who refused to get rolled by the generals and asserted civilian control after years of President George W. Bush going along with most of what his generals told him to do. Some of the top military showed open contempt for President Obama when the young president took office, similar to the hazing a young President Kennedy received.

As I wrote in a past column on military versus civilian control:

From accounts in [Rolling Stone reporter Michael] Hastings’ book and other news accounts, the top generals didn’t have much respect for Obama when he first came into office. What probably made that situation worse was that they were so used to President George W. Bush’s rubber stamp of what they wanted in the war, once the war started. (Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pushed back hard and severely before the Iraq war when some generals were concerned that we didn’t have enough troops and no exit strategy. But once we were in the war, Bush claimed that he was going to listen to the generals on the ground.)

In the end, the generals underestimated Obama’s civilian resolve, which was hardened like Kennedy’s when he saw that they were trying to undercut and go around his authority. Jonathan Alter’s book, “The Promise,” illustrates Obama’s first round of attempted hazing by the military brass. Hastings describes in his book the contempt that the top generals had when Obama said that he was going to honor the troop withdrawal agreement with Iraq and have troops leave at the end of 2011. (There is plenty of controversy surrounding the State Department’s 5,000-person army of hired mercenaries, but they are small compared to the troops that Obama pulled out.) The generals and some hawks in the administration leaked like crazy to the press that this was a “soft” date and insisted on the caveat that it depended on the old phrase of “the situation on the ground,” as the date neared.

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  1. Comment by Duck:

    Give up their military retirement to participate in the political process by endorsing a candidate or go to work for private industry? Aren’t you just a liberal key board Gestapo commando tart, coat tailing on the military industrial complex democrat paranoia!

    You apparently forget, or have no idea, that military personnel are people, and even better, Americans (well, most of them are). Are you an American? Do you by chance also rail against the Patriot Act?

    You suggest we silence and restrict civilians who, by the way, were gagged and restricted by requirement for 20-30 years of their military lives to begin with.

    I don’t recall any statement nearly 30 years ago when I signed my military entrance documents, saying that if I chose to stay in 20 ~ 30 years and earn a retirement, that the constitutional, personal freedoms I gave up (knowingly) by joining the military, would be on my back for the rest of my life. I do know I can still be held to account under military justice by the mere fact I draw a pension, but that is so obscure and reserved for heinous crimes against America itself, not some whimsical act. How about you though, any such restrictions in your life?

    Would you further suggest any military flag officer or just any well known former military person, be restricted from running for political office? Seems that’s not a far leap. Any former presidents spring to mind? Google it, I know you know how to do that.

  2. Comment by Hamlin Tallent:

    So, It is interesting to me that you can print my name and opine that it is the money that causes me to support Romney. You have never met me or talked with me. You don’t know me. It is even more interesting that you believe retired military should take no public stance on the future of the country. Does that also mean Admiral Nathman and General Powell should not support Obama, or is supporting Democrats okay with you? You are something of an idiot aren’t you?

    • Comment by Forseti:

      It is not that we believe retired military personnel should not take a stance on the future of our country. A citizen of the US is free to take any stance they so chose. Retired and active duty military are subject to UCMJ, regarding politics:

      Article 2 of the UCMJ, retired members of the military drawing pay, as well as active-duty service members, are subject to UCMJ provisions.


      This site supports everyone and anyone who has served our country honorably. However, anyone- especially retired senior officers who put career advancement and cold hard cash before the safety of our troops on the ground should be held accountable. As a taxpayer I am fed up with the fraud waste and abuse of funds that goes unabated at the Pentagon. I am also disgusted at the thought that I am supporting six digit retirement salaries for retired flag officers who have been in charge at defense contractors, while soldiers have died.

      Maybe you should use your soapbox and MAN UP to supporting the men and women currently serving in the military and keep them out of harms way from preventable dangers, while they are serving our country.

      And finally, this article was written by Dana Rasor and published by TruthOut. Ms Rasor founded the Project on Military Procurement (now called the Project on Government Oversight, or POGO) and I doubt she would appreciate being referred to as an idiot.

      • Comment by Hamlin Tallent:

        i do not see how you link the fact i supported Governor Romney to career advancement and cold hard cash. BTW i did MAN UP for 32 years and while doing so every thing i ate, drank, flew, sailed in, wore, shot, dropped, etc. was made by a defense contractor. The uniformed military actually “makes” nothing. It consumes. So your demonization of defense contractors without the benefit of citing any specific crime is a bit astonishing.

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