Of all the spending cuts and budget battles the Pentagon is confronting, none is causing more angst than Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’s vow to start getting rid of generals and admirals, the Washington Post reports. By almost any measure, the military is more top-heavy an institution than it has been for decades. Today, there are 40 four-star generals and admirals — one more than in 1971, during the Vietnam War, even though the number of active-duty troops has shrunk by almost half. The number of active-duty generals and admirals of all rank, meanwhile, has increased by about 13 percent since 1996. But the defense secretary’s pledge Monday to cut about 5 percent of the brass is nothing short of seismic for many at the Pentagon. The cuts would be the largest in the upper ranks since a similar squeeze at the end of the Cold War, when the collapse of the Soviet Union prompted the military to downsize.
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