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Generals, admirals may get more ethics training earlier in careers

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Pentagon's findings

• Ethics training for generals and admirals is adequate, but it should begin earlier in their careers.

• Joint Chiefs should take a closer look at the staffing support, travel privileges and other perks provided to senior officers.

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By The Washington Post
Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 9:38 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon announced on Friday that it will examine whether its generals and admirals receive too many perks and said they should receive more ethics training earlier in their careers.

The measures are a preliminary response to a directive issued last month by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who ordered a review into misconduct by top brass as a result of investigations involving several leaders, including the commander of the war in Afghanistan.

On Friday, however, the Pentagon gave no indication that sweeping reforms were in store, and officials downplayed a string of scandals involving senior officers as isolated incidents.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said Panetta believes the misconduct is limited to a “very small number” of senior officers. Panetta decided to let the Joint Chiefs of Staff determine on their own whether further reforms are needed, instead of imposing changes.

The review will be led by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Dempsey gave Panetta a preliminary report a week ago in which he concluded that generals and admirals received adequate ethics training, but that the Defense Department ought to begin that training earlier in their careers.

Dempsey also recommended that the Joint Chiefs take a closer look at the staffing support, travel privileges and other perquisites provided to senior officers.

By the time commanders achieve four-star rank, they often travel in corporate-style jets, with their own cooks, drivers and dozens of aides who perform personal errands.

Some leaders get accustomed to the cushy treatment. After he retired from the Army as a four-star general to become director of the CIA, for instance, David Petraeus instructed aides to hand him bottles of water at precise intervals during his jogging routine and have fresh, sliced pineapple available during business trips before bedtime.

Petraeus, who retired from the Army in 2011 to become CIA director, resigned last month; he admitted to the FBI that he had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Panetta has not given Dempsey and the Joint Chiefs a deadline for their review. Nor has he “formed an opinion” as to whether they are afforded excessive benefits.

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