According to a recent report, retired U.S. admirals and generals have taken high-paying top jobs for Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and other wealthy oil-producing kingdoms.
The Washington Post reported, “more than 500 retired U.S. military personnel — including scores of generals and admirals — have taken lucrative jobs since 2015 working for foreign governments, mostly in countries known for human rights abuses and political repression.”
Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) said that in Saudi Arabia alone, 15 retired U.S. admirals and generals have worked as paid defense ministry consultants since 2016, led by the kingdom’s de facto ruler, bin Salman.
Retired U.S. Army General Keith Alexander, who led the National Security Agency under former President George W. Bush, and Obama, as well as U.S. Marine General James L. Jones, who previously served as national security advisor to former President Obama, reportedly worked as paid advisors for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a long-time U.S. resident of the United States and reporter, was murdered in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a team of 15 Saudi operatives was flown in to capture or kill Khashoggi. According to reports, the Crown Prince directly approved the operation to crush dissenters.
Since Khashoggi’s murder, others who work for Saudi Arabia have included a former commanding general of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and a four-star Air Force general. Personnel retired from the military have also reportedly worked as civilian contractors for some Persian Gulf monarchies, including the United Arab Emirates.
According to U.N. investigators, the Post report pointed out the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and human rights abuses.
Congress allows reservists and retired troops to be employed by foreign governments after receiving approval from the State Department and their military branch. The Post sued the State Department, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Navy, and the Army in federal court under the Freedom of Information Act for records on the practice, which has long been kept quiet.
Following a two-year legal battle, the Washington Post said it had received over 4,000 pages of documents, including case files for about 450 retired airmen, Marines, soldiers, and sailors. The paper won a victory in September regarding details about pay packages. United States District Judge Amit P. Mehta described the privacy arguments put forward by the government as “unconvincing,” stating, “the public has a right to know if high-ranking military leaders are taking advantage of their stations — or might be perceived to be doing so — to create employment opportunities with foreign governments in retirement.”
The released documents demonstrate that foreign governments pay well for U.S. military talent. Benefit and salary packages can reach six, sometimes seven figures — far more significant than service members earn on active duty. According to the Post, four-star generals earn $203,698 a year in basic pay at the top of the pay scale.
“In comparison, the government of Australia has given consulting deals worth more than $10 million to several former senior U.S. Navy officials. A consulting firm owned by six retired Pentagon officials and military officers negotiated a $23.6 million contract with Qatar, a Persian Gulf sheikhdom that hosts a major U.S. air base, though the proposal later fell through. In Azerbaijan, a retired U.S. Air Force general was offered a consulting gig at a rate of $5,000 a day,” said the Post. In addition to admirals and retired generals, records reportedly show other formerly enlisted personnel are also paid handsomely.
According to the Post report, “Saudi Arabia hired a former Navy SEAL to work as a special operations adviser for $258,000 a year. The U.A.E. gave annual compensation packages worth more than $200,000 to helicopter pilots and $120,000 to aircraft mechanics. In Indonesia, a government-owned mining firm employed a retired U.S. Marine master sergeant as a transportation consultant at a rate of $500 a day, plus living expenses.”
Department of Defense spokesperson says retired military members free to seek employment.
When asked by Fox News Digital for further information regarding the Post’s reporting, a Department of Defense spokesperson stated, “As private U.S. citizens, retired service members are free to seek employment at their discretion. These individuals remain bound by the laws governing the non-disclosure of any non-public Government information: including classified information, the information they may have obtained through Federal employment, and other information protected by The Privacy Act.”
The spokesperson added, “Safeguarding national security and classified information, as well as preventing conflicts of interest, are always paramount for the Department. The Military Departments give it due weight and consideration in its review of foreign government employment requests. However, in addition to the limitations on foreign government employment that apply to military retirees, all former DoD personnel are subject to a variety of post-government employment restrictions within law and regulation, including 18 USC 207 and 18 U.S.C. 798.”