Documents obtained from the Freedom of Information Act show that more than 500 former U.S. military personnel have taken lucrative jobs in the service of foreign governments. Notably, Saudi Arabia has employed 15 retired U.S. generals and admirals as paid consultants for their armed forces. Former military personnel are being paid handsomely by U.S. allies and enemies to acquire America’s military talent. However, retired military personnel assisting with the defense of another country carries a risk of military secrets falling into the hands of U.S. enemies.
Danielle Wallace; October 19, 2022
A report published Tuesday asserted that retired U.S. generals and admirals have taken high-paying top jobs for Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other wealthy oil-rich kingdoms.
The Washington Post reported that “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.”
Citing documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the report added that in Saudi Arabia alone, 15 retired U.S. generals and admirals have worked as paid consultants for the defense ministry – led by bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler — since 2016.
Those who reportedly work as paid advisers for Saudi Arabia include U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones, a national security adviser to former President Obama, and retired U.S. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who led the National Security Agency under Obama and former President George W. Bush.
In October 2018, journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to the Post and a long-term resident of the U.S., was murdered in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence says a team of 15 Saudi operatives were flown in to kill or capture Khashoggi. The operation was directly approved by bin Salman to crush dissenters.
Since Khashoggi’s killing, others who work for Saudi Arabia allegedly include a retired four-star Air Force general and a former commanding general of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Retired military personnel have also reportedly worked as civilian contractors for the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf monarchies.
The Post pointed to Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war, which United Nations investigators say resulted in human rights abuses and the deaths of thousands of civilians.
Congress permits retired troops and reservists to be employed by foreign governments if they first receive approval from their branch of the military and the State Department.
The Post sued the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the State Department in federal court under FOIA for records on the purported practice long kept hush-hush.
Following a two-year legal fight, The Post said it received more than 4,000 pages of documents, including case files for about 450 retired soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Delivering the newspaper a win in September regarding pay package details, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta described the government’s privacy arguments as “unconvincing,” saying, “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 documents show that foreign governments pay handsomely for U.S. military talent, with salary and benefit packages reaching six and, sometimes, seven figures — far more than what most American service members earn while on active duty. At the top of the scale, active four-star generals earn $203,698 a year in basic pay,” the Post reports.
“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,” according to the newspaper.
Besides retired general and admirals, records reportedly show other former enlisted personnel collect big.
“Saudi Arabia hired a former Navy SEAL to work as a special operations adviser for $258,000 a year,” The Post reports. “The UAE 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.”
Fox News Digital reached out to the State Department regarding the Post’s investigation.
“Following review and approval from the applicant’s respective military service, the Department of State reviews applications for employment with a foreign government by reservists or military retirees in accordance with 37 U.S.C. § 908,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “We refer you to DoD for further details on the Foreign Government Employment process.”
In response to a Fox News Digital request for any information regarding the Post’s investigation, a Department of Defense spokesperson said, “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, information they may have obtained through Federal employment, and other information protected by The Privacy Act.”
“Safeguarding national security and classified information, as well as preventing conflicts of interest, are always paramount for the Department,” the spokesperson added. “The Military Departments gives 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.”