Majority of Retired 4-Stars Employed by Defense Industry

| October 5, 2023

Majority of Retired 4-Star Officers Got Jobs in Defense Industry, New Report Says

More than 80% of the highest-ranking military officers who left the service over the past five years moved into jobs working for the defense industry, according to a new think tank report.

Twenty-six of the 32 four-star officers who retired after June 2018 were then employed by “the arms industry as board members, advisors, executives, consultants, lobbyists, or members of financial institutions that invest in the defense sector,” according to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a defense-focused think tank that advocates for peace and diplomacy.

The report argues that the staggering statistic “generates the appearance — and in some cases the reality — of conflicts of interest in the making of defense policy and in the shaping of the size and composition of the Pentagon budget.”

This absolutely unsurprising news leaves unanswered what the remaining 20% of retired four-stars do. 5 US Code Section 3326 mandates a 180-day waiting period between military retirement and an appointment to the DOD ostensibly to prevent the appearance of conflicting, special interests. Should Big Defense do likewise? Because it’s all about appearances.

Category: Big Pentagon, Reality Check

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

“This absolutely unsurprising news leaves unanswered what the remaining 20% of retired four-stars do.”

Here’s a thought: retired 4-Stars (and 3-Stars for that matter) simply fade away after retiring from the military. Their retirement is worth $200k+ annually: How Much Does A 4 Star General Make In Retirement? – Greatsenioryears Forty years of “service” is sure to net a hefty VA disability rating too, should they want to deal with that.

It may be petty on my part, as I retired and am still working. But let’s compare and contrast…I’m in my mid-40s with three children under 18, a mortgage, and making $19/hour to supplement my $32k retirement and 100% disability. I’m glad to be able to still work, but all told I’m sitting at about $110k/year, or half of what those O-10s get in retirement alone. An average O-10 (or O-9) is in their 60s, with grown children, multiple investments to include properties, and by choosing to take these sorts of jobs is probably clearing $400k or more annually.

Few of us make it to 40 years in any job. Since O-8 is the last permanent rank, make it a requirement that anyone accepting nominative O-9 and up jobs agree to fully retire afterward. Those that refuse the rank get to retire as MGs or RADMs and maybe take post-military employment in some capacity.

The defense industry needs Subject Matter Experts, who most of us would agree are career officers with various commands and higher-level military education. That said, there are plenty of extremely capable COLs and CAPTs out there who just never made the leap to seeing stars. I would think that they, and to a lesser extent O-7/O-8, could do as good of a job as someone like Milley, with much less perception of a conflict of interest.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

I put in 37 years and did the early age 62 retirement because the company stopped our pension when I had 35 years in so I waited two years and got out with 35 years of pension.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Forgot to add in that it was in 2007 that I retired at 62


This is how the gubmit works

Health Secretary sets policy and when leaving office goes to work for a pharmaceutical company.

General/Admiral pushes for weapons programs and when they retire they go to work for defense contractors.

Presidents set policies which benefit their friends and families. When they leave office they get book deals and ridiculous amounts for speaking fees from people who benefited from their policies.


“Majority of Retired 4-Star Officers Got Jobs in Defense Industry”…
What are the F’ing odds!

No doubt they had these jobs secured well before they retired.


Of course, the defense industry could hire folks with no DoD knowledge or experience. That would help appearances, but the resultant gear might be even less helpful. Tanks and Fighters designed by musicians?

And for regulatory roles, hiring the ignorant also seems unwise.

Hiring a bunch of academics with no real experience is proven disastrous.

So how to staff these things, yet reward virtue and crush vice?


Maybe I worked with too many outstanding Colonels, but I maintain that O-6’s should get the jobs. They’re often already groomed for service as GO/FOs, have the requisite education and assignments, and just lack getting that first star to qualify them for coffee duty for the O-9 and further consideration to take a division or equivalent assignment. A good O-6 is about 10-15 years younger than an O-10, has around 30 years of service, and has already served as Chief of Staff for an O-8.


They do get the jobs. I’ve actually seen a retired General working for a retired Colonel. Colonel was a program Manager at Boeing.


I once served with a 1LT who supposedly leads 13 generals and admirals: Rachel Washburn – Wikipedia

It’s certainly not unprecedented, but I think that most senior GOs/FOs with 40+ years of service should just pass the torch to their younger and much more energetic retired O-6 and lower counterparts. Go enjoy your Corvette, six-figure pension, and grandkids, Sir/Ma’am. Let the guys and gals who never made it to the levels of influence that affect defense procurement and projects that you did take the lead, so that we can avoid any accusations of influence and conflict of interest.


I bet the retired general liked being told what was expected of him by a retired colonel .


It’s all about the Rolodex and opening doors. For the kiddies, a Rolodex is an old app where you used to keep your contacts.

Having people in the military that are of high rank and used to work for you is very useful if you are in industry. But then you end up making the literal combat ship because it is also inbred.


This is how Marine Corps Aviation got the MV-22B and F-35B shoved up its ass without DOD/DON ever seriously considering other less expensive/more viable options to replace the CH-46 and the AV-8B.

The standard condescending, dismissive, sneering response from USMC 4-stars over the years when challenged about these programs by operational Fleet squadron Marine Aviators (paraphrased):

“Pfffft. You don’t get the BIG PICTURE. Next question.”

Apparently, the BIG PICTURE was that active duty GOs had to get those programs up and running so that they could start “consulting” after retirement, regardless of the already well-known, significant operational limitations that both T/M/S aircraft would experience when they went into operational service in the Fleet.

*Please see both the retired USMC CH-46 General Officer Mafia and the retired USMC AV-8B General Officer Mafia (in all ranks O-7 thru O-10) from the late ’80s until the present day.


They make the E4 Mafia look like posers.


The “alleged” E4 Mafia.


I am still waiting and I retired from active service 19+ years ago.

When do I find out who THEY are?
When do I get shown the BIG PICTURE?
and When do I get to meet the REGULAR CREW CHIEF?


In other breaking news…fire’s hot, water’s wet, defecation has an odor, Hitlery’s a murderous bitch, and Epstein didn’t kill himself. Nothing to see here, move along.

Sewer critters change their uniform for a suit. Them $600 hammers and toilet seats aren’t going to sell themselves on their merits.


Next you’ll be saying that walls keep out illegal immigrants. Everybody knows that walls are racist and they don’t work.


This comment brought to you by Pfizer®?

And/or…(see below)?

war criminals be like.jpeg

In a meme:
comment image


During my military industrial complex career I ran into a few
situations where the visitor in the suit and tie obviously had
his regular suit in the cleaners.
Go Signal……


It’s not just MIC companies. Remember Theranos? (see image)

Gotta make sure those idiots know who is buttering their bread!
If those retarded service members ever started to think for themselves or notice the corruption that surrounds them, well, they just might overthrow this place so Grandma don’t get evicted for failure to pay the $17.76 359th payment on her mortgage.

I say we all “put on the glasses, or start eating that trashcan” (not pictured):

theranos fucks.png
Veritas Omnia Vincit

comment image

Dave Hardin

And, it is not just limited to General grade officers. In my experience, there is a flood of retried military that flock to Defense Contractors and DOD Civil Service jobs regardless of rank.

The major issue I have with that is too many of them spend a significant amount of their working hours dedicated to increasing their military benefits.

Their job focus seems to become bilking as much out of the system as they can.

Too many who are employed in DOD Civil Service jobs are unqualified or under qualified for their position.

JMHO from the experiences and observations I have.

Last edited 4 months ago by Dave Hardin

Concur. I share your observances on a daily basis.

*DISCLAIMER* I, too, am an eebil, triple-dipping federal gubmint employee. My organization is 98% veterans, ranging from E8 to E4. However, comma, dot dot dot… and there’s always a however… we’re actually productive, enjoy what we do, and have an excellent working relationship with the units we support. Other organizations here, not so much.

Dave Hardin

Sure, Sure, Sure, it’s always the “other” guy. (smile, wink, wink)


“Guy”? That’s not very inclusive. Did you just assume their gender?

Dave Hardin

I “identified” that pronoun incorrectly. I should not have generalized in such an unthinking way.

Please replace “guy” with “genital organ weeds”

I stand corrected.

Last edited 4 months ago by Dave Hardin

I think I’ve had enough inclusivity for one day.


The problem is that a 4-star can go pretty much straight to work for LM, Leidos, etc….. without issues. Yet I’ve worked with a lot of O-4 and above who receive lifetime bans on employment with defense-related companies. I guess those JAG personnel can’t seem to find fault with someone like Vuono (going back a ways) getting a sweet gig with L3 and MPRI.


Off topic, but affects the subjects.
Holy shit.

[Army-Navy game hotel reservations canceled
due to influx of migrants in Massachusetts]

Last edited 4 months ago by MarineDad61

Note to everyone –
Editing of comment spacing and typos is working again!

Dave Hardin

I did the upgrades to many things last night.

Dave Hardin

Last edited 4 months ago by Dave Hardin

For my video response,
I chose this music video that was BANNED on MTV
back in the 80s.

Anyone can watch it and see why, even though
much much worse passes for music videos today.

DEVO – “That’s Good”


Another song that will never get air time is *Intergalactic Laxative* by Donovan.

My link skills are Suspect on my best days, so you would be better off looking for yourselves.


This was our contraband in 6th grade.
It was a game of hot potato,
when a teacher learned the 45 record
was being passed around,
taken home every day by another classmate.


Let’s see how this works…


Yes, that link gets there.

Better yet, to expand and display here,
instead of youtu dot be,
use a link to youtube dot com


Thanks. Then all the other crap won’t show up as well.


“Why new weapons programs cost trillions”, Alternate headline. TIFIFY.


No big deal. They are just key players in that military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about.