Ben Freeman, Project on Government Oversight - In addition to extramarital affairs and “flirtatious e-mails,” the General Petraeus sex scandal highlighted another of the Pentagon’s dirty little secrets – generals live like billionaires, and taxpayers are footing the bill.
As the Washington Post reported, these perks “befitting a billionaire,” include, “palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags, press their uniforms and track their schedules in 10-minute increments. Their food is prepared by gourmet chefs. If they want music with their dinner parties, their staff can summon a string quartet or a choir.”
Lavish perks bestowed to generals increase with higher ranks, as Raymond Dubois, former DoD director of Administration and Management from 2002 to 2005, told Air Force Times. “A four-star has an airplane. A three-star often doesn’t…Can a three-star get an airplane when he needs it? Not always. Does a four-star get an airplane when he needs it? Always. Many times he’ll already have a G5 sitting on the runway, gassed up. There are the kinds of costs that are fairly significant when you add them all up,” according to Dubois.
Taxpayers are paying for this largesse, and they keep paying long after the generals retire—even if they are receiving other salaries and benefits.
General Petraeus, for example, will reportedly receive a $220,000 annual pension for the rest of his life. Petraeus is reaping the benefits of a 2007 provision that dramatically increased the pensions of top generals and admirals, but not the lower ranking soldiers they command. The Pentagon’s press office told POGO, for the average three-star general or admiral that retires from the military, “the annual difference in retired pay between the old and new criteria is about $39,900,” per year.